October 03, 2021
The Alfond Inn — at Rollins College
300 East New England Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
Check-in Date: Friday, September 24, 2021
Check-out Date: Sunday, September 26, 2021
This entry is, hopefully, the first in a series of reviews on our short weekend getaways in and around the Central Florida area. I decided to refer to these writings as “hotel stays” instead of the more cliché “staycations” which, to me, attempts to legitimize a new normal in travel fueled by the Covid-19 hysteria.
For our first outing, we decided to pick The Alfond Inn in Winter Park because whenever we drove past the Inn during our frequent visits to the area, we were impressed by the upscale clientele arriving at the porte cochere. By upscale, I’m referring to the high-end auto marques: Mercedes Benz, Porsche, BMW, Audi, Tesla, Maserati, and now the Genesis GV80. One evening to our surprise we noticed, parked in the entrance, a Rolls Royce—painted entirely in camouflage!!
Check-in was quick and easy even at peak arrival time. The Inn provides valet parking so no need to worry about finding parking along the street especially on weekends. We were surprised to find that the Inn accepts pets and we observed one guest who had two dogs leashed where one could have been a Great Dane.
Amazingly, we never had to wait for an elevator during the entire length of our stay, unlike what you experience on cruise ships and at most other hotels. Since our room was on the 5th floor, we had to cover four floors to get to the lobby—no problem even if the elevator was already occupied and happened to be going in the opposite direction.
The Alfond Inn, a Florida boutique hotel, is owned by Rollins College with revenues directed towards the college’s scholarship fund.
As you would expect from a boutique hotel with a AAA Four Diamond Rating, the room rates and fees are reflective of an award-winning hotel.
Room Sub Total: USD $598.00 (excluding taxes and fees)
Taxes & Fees: USD $203.36
Sub Total: USD $801.36
Service Fee: USD $19.99
In addition, to the room rate and fees, the Inn charges USD $20.00 per day for valet parking.
The outdoor heated pool is located on the second floor near the fitness center. The pool is long enough as well as deep enough for swimming.
Hamilton’s Kitchen is the hotel restaurant serving a Brunch on the weekend. I ordered the classic Soup and Grilled Cheese for $14.00 prepared with white cheddar cheese layered between slices of intense multi-grain bread. Appropriately, the soup was tomato.
For breakfast we chose to walk the few blocks up and over to the Panera Bread on the corner of N. Park & W. Canton Avenues. We like the bagels and breakfast sandwiches as well as the unlimited self-serve coffee.
Friday dinner was at the Tabla on N. Park Ave. For an appetizer I had the Chinese Bhel, “Crispy Noodles and Julienne Vegetables tossed in Chili-Garlic Sauce” which was very good. For dinner I foolishly chose the Lamb Biryani which was mostly rice and strong Indian spices. I prefer Indian buffets over sit down Indian restaurants since I can choose the dishes I like, usually tandoori, vindaloo, or curry. Nevertheless, their garlic naan was excellent.
Saturday dinner was at the Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen and Bar on N. Orange Ave. in Winter Park. For appetizers we ordered a selection of oysters from the raw bar. I also ordered the Shrimp & Corn Chowder, “Fresh-shucked corn, wild-caught shrimp, new potatoes, leeks, poblanos, green onions, cream based” which was very good. For my Main course, I ordered the cod and clam strips from the Fish Camp Classics. While I never believed it possible not to like anything [deep] fried, I wasn’t impressed with the order. The clams were mostly breading and dry, the hush puppies were good, however the plate was overloaded with fries which weren’t really special.
After breakfast on Saturday, we took a short drive over to Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando. The gardens reside on 50 acres and includes the Leu House Museum. Leu Gardens is the perfect place to get out and walk around for a few hours and also ideal for photography. Speaking of photography, this was my first outing using my new lens, a Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS. This was also my first serious outing shooting RAW+JPG. I was especially anxious to test out how the lens would perform in low-light conditions since it isn’t a necessarily fast lens. As it turned out the lens took pretty decent shots hand-held at night around the hotel which is a testament to Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. On the negative side, there was one instance at Leu Gardens where the lens had difficulty determining the focus on a foreground vertical image instead of another vertical image alongside but in the background. I was eventually able to convince it to focus on the correct foreground image (this image is included in my Photo Gallery).
Sunday, we drove out to the Korea House restaurant in Longwood since we were disappointed with the food being served at the recently re-opened Shin Jung in Orlando. The bulgogi and pajeon (scallion pancake) were excellent which easily qualified the Korea House as one of our new favorite restaurants.
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