The Winter Park hotel market is slated to experience a jolt of new development activity.
The city has about 140 hotel rooms available today, but plans for new hotels suggest that number can jump up to nearly 700 over the next three years
Currently, all of its active hotel rooms are concentrated around Winter Park’s main drag, Park Avenue. Those include the boutique 28-room Park Plaza hotel at 307 S. Park Ave. and the Alfond Inn at Rollins, which presently offers travelers a selection to book one of its 112 rooms.
City spokeswoman Clarissa Howard said although the city does not keep track of hotel inventory, talks with municipal partners have often suggested there’s a shortage of rooms in Winter Park.
“Rollins has challenges finding hotel rooms for parents on busy weekends," she wrote in a written response. “Alfond is typically always booked.”
The city has long been a haven for old-money snowbirds from the north, and also acts as the stomping grounds for thousands of students that attend the growing 80-acre Rollins College campus along Holt Avenue.
Hospitality experts active in the area agree that the market presents an opportunity to supply a growing demand for hotels rooms.
One developer taking advantage includes Dan Bellows.
Bellows is involved in three of the five sites GrowthSpotter identified as having substantial plans for a new hotel development in Winter Park.
Underway at his roughly 75-acre Ravaudage master-planned community are two national flags: a select-service Hilton Garden Inn and a limited-service SpringHill Suites hotel by Marriott.
The 102-room Hilton Garden Inn at 1275 Lee Rd. will open in April, while the 126-room Marriott SpringHill Suites at 1127 N. Orlando Ave. is expected to break ground next week. Bellows said that project is expected to open May 2021.
He’s also part of the development team set to bring a three-story hotel at 655 W. Morse Boulevard.
Bellows’ Sydgan Corporation is requesting approvals from the city to modify previously approved plans for a 120-unit hotel that will allow him to expand to 140 rooms.
As part of the deal, a portion of the 2.7-acre property on the northeast corner of Symonds Avenue and Pennsylvania Boulevard would be donated to the city to use as a regional stormwater pond and community park, Bellows said.
The development site is next to where senior independent living provider Holiday Retirement relocated its headquarters from Oregon.
If approved next month, Bellows said the company will be in for permitting by May. The hotel will then likely open before the end of 2021 with Finfrock handling construction, he added.
Construction for the Alfond Inn expansion, which will add 73 rooms to the current 112-room hotel, will also begin around the same time.
Rollins College spokesman Sam Stark said the expansion, slated to begin last summer, will now begin construction this spring. The addition should be completed before the end of 2021.
The final piece of land in Winter Park that’s currently being primed for a hotel is the site of the proposed 118-unit Henderson Hotel on Lake Killarney.
The development team behind the project sought approvals from the city late last year, but plans were withdrawn and a future date for presentation has not been discussed with the city yet.
Adam Wonus of Atrium Management Company, a partner in the development team, told GrowthSpotter they’re currently adding a lakefront component to plans.
The modification would offer a public space along the lake that extends toward the back of where Oviedo-based developer Hill Gray Seven is planning to redevelop the old Ranch Mall, he said.
“It’s a small boutique hotel that’s paying tribute to Winter Park and its history,” Wonus said. A clearer completion date will be decided closer to when plans are resubmitted.
With more than 550 hotel rooms in the pipeline, developers need to give their projects a competing edge, Bellows said.
“The Alfond Inn is a tremendous asset, but it primarily caters to Rollins College,” he said. “What’s unique about Morse, is the hotel will be very pedestrian-friendly and very walkable."
His hotels in Ravaudage will cater to travelers seeking a lower price point, he said. "They’ll have more of a business clientele, and that product does not exist [in Winter Park].”
Wonus said the Henderson hotel will serve to complement the planned redevelopment of the Ranch Mall and will stand out as Winter Park’s first and sole lakefront hotel.
Eli Aden, a representative at UP Development, said with the abundance of hotel expansions anticipated in the area, the company is waiting to see if the Winter Park market will absorb additional supply.
The firm owns a development site a 900 and 950 N. Orlando Ave. that was rumored to house a potential hotel development, but Aden said the company has not yet finalized plans.
Bellows said he believes that too much development at one time can potentially weigh down Winter Park’s overall hotel growth. “How many hotels can Winter Park hold? I don’t think it can hold as many more than what’s already approved.”