Upon visiting the new AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, most guests first find themselves entranced by a magnificent hotel with an astonishing 462,000 sq. ft. of meeting/event space. They are amazed by the hotel’s exceptional array of high-end amenities, including a luxurious 13,000-square-foot Spa at Shingle Creek and the award-winning Shingle Creek Golf Club. But those who look a little deeper will discover something even more intriguing. They will discover the hotel’s roots—a tribute to the glory days of the Florida frontier, an homage to the area’s spectacular natural landscape, and even a reference to the golden age of luxury hotels in Florida.
The Importance of The Creek. The History of Its Name.
Rosen Shingle Creek rises majestically from a spectacular 230-acre parcel of land, boasting a quintessential Florida landscape. It is this land that, literally and figuratively, provides the foundation for the hotel.
Harris Rosen, founder and president of the award-winning Rosen Hotels & Resorts, elaborates, “It all started in about 2000, when I began to seriously consider developing a new hotel property. We investigated a number of sites in Central Florida and finally honed in on one. What we liked most about this particular spot was its location and the fact that it was a lovely wooded site with many trees—pines and oaks—and wildlife.” Rosen says that he fell in love with the site instantly and decided on the spot to purchase it, but it would be several days before he could take a closer look at the land he had acquired.
“A few days after the purchase,” Rosen continues, “I took a helicopter flight over the site and viewed it from a different perspective. In the air, I discovered a little stream meandering through the property on the eastern most border heading due south. I asked the helicopter pilot if he knew anything about this little stream and he said, no. When we landed, I began to make inquiries about the little waterway and discovered, much to my surprise, that it was actually Shingle Creek, the very headwaters to Florida’s famous Everglades.”
Soon, Rosen discovered more about the history of the region. He learned that, long before businessmen and vacationers began venturing to this area, the land surrounding Shingle Creek was home to the Seminole Indians before being claimed by settlers in the early 1820s. In fact, it was this group of hearty pioneers who discovered that the area’s abundant cypress trees were not only beautiful, but also useful in the construction of their new homesteads. These settlers harvested the trees for building material and transported them down the creek to be used primarily as roof shingles. That, of course, is how they came to call the pristine waterway, “Shingle Creek.”
A Growing Community—In the Late 1800s.
The first settlement in the region emerged just east of the creek, adjacent to a military trail that served as the first travel route between present day Sanford and Tampa. At first, the settlement, also called Shingle Creek, was home only to the sawmill where the shingles were made. But growth was inevitable. The first trading post was built at a low water crossing point just steps away from where Rosen Shingle Creek sits today, and, over the course the next few decades, a thriving community emerged with active commerce along the lush, cypress-lined banks. When the Shingle Creek settlement peaked in the early 1900s, it included a train depot and general store, as well as the first church and post office in Osceola County.
Anxious to learn more about the harsh life of Central Florida’s early pioneers, Rosen picked up Patrick D. Smith’s novel, A Land Remembered. The book made a deep impression on Rosen.
“So precious is Patrick’s book,” Rosen says, “that we have dedicated our entire Shingle Creek Hotel to it.” In fact, the novel, which tells the story of how, over the course of three generations, the MacIvey family lifts itself from dirt-poor Crackers to wealthy real estate tycoons, can be read as a striking parallel to the life of Rosen himself, who emerged from a childhood in the poor lower east side of New York City to become the successful hotelier that he is today. Rosen Shingle Creek’s signature restaurant “A Land Remembered” is named after the novel, and Rosen dreams of one day forging a 140-mile wilderness trail from the creek all the way south to Lake Okeechobee. “And,” Rosen says, “we shall name it The Patrick D. Smith Trail, in honor of the author of the most wonderful book, “A Land Remembered.”
Renaissance of A Region.
In addition to memorializing the region’s rich history and hearty pioneers, Rosen was committed to showcasing the area’s natural beauty, as well.
When he first purchased the 250 acres of land along the Shingle Creek, Rosen marveled at the abundant native flowers and plants, and he envisioned making these natural wonders a focal point of the hotel inside and out. Rich with dense oaks, towering pines and majestic cypress trees, this site, Rosen felt, captured the essence of Florida’s natural magnificence. After donating 20 acres to the University of Central Florida for the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Rosen committed to emphasizing the natural beauty of the area everywhere possible.
All along the property, guests can walk amongst native plants and vegetation, including lady palms, bamboo, pygmy date palms and more. Inside, the guest rooms are decorated with original framed photographs that depict the meadows, streams and flowers of the Shingle Creek area. These breathtaking images, which capture a wide array of species including Pink Irises, Crown of Thorns and Air Plants, were captured by Garritt Toohey, who at the time was Vice President of Rosen Hotels. (Toohey has since retired.)
Rosen Shingle Creek’s ballrooms and meeting spaces further reflect the importance of Florida’s natural wonders in the concept of the hotel. Each room honors the state’s magnificent lakes, rivers and landmarks with names like Wekiwa, St. Johns, Suwannee, Butler and Sebastian./p>
Today, more than a century after the original settlement was established around Shingle Creek, this remarkable waterway and the vibrant region that surrounds it are again the epicenter of an enthralling community.
“I wanted to create an enduring legacy with this hotel,” Rosen explained. “A legacy not just to me or this company, but to the Florida I know and love, to the original pioneers who believed in the potential of this area and were true survivors. Rosen Shingle Creek embodies the spirit of the real, authentic Florida in every regard.”
For more information about Rosen Shingle Creek, call (866) 996-6338 or visit www.rosenshinglecreek.com.
Rosen Hotels & Resorts currently owns and operates seven properties in the Orlando market. Numerous hospitality-industry awards, employee longevity and a reputation for quality have fueled the growth of Rosen Hotels & Resorts over the past 34 years. For more information about Rosen Hotels & Resorts, visit www.rosenhotels.com.