Every aspect of the new AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek—from the Mediterranean flourishes to the way the façade seems perfectly enmeshed in the tropical surroundings—was designed to offer convention and leisure guests an unparalleled experience. At Rosen Shingle Creek, every architectural detail is a reflection of the Golden Era of Florida hotels, while the hotel itself incorporates just about every modern amenity imaginable.
“My vision was to create a hotel that rivaled the legendary hotels this state is famous for,” declared Harris Rosen, founder and president of the award-winning Rosen Hotels & Hotels.
One of the most exhilarating aspects of Rosen Shingle Creek is the way the design enhances the quality of light that comes into almost all the public spaces. The sheer radiance of the interior spaces allows guests to connect with the outside environment—a rare quality among properties this large. In fact, while the convention area’s pre-function spaces are massive, some areas are enhanced with views to gardens, the golf course or if they are on the interior of the property, include large skylights to energize the guest experience.
Another striking detail is the entrance to the hotel tower, which showcases an 80-foot by 80-foot porte-cochere graced by a multi-tiered fountain. This majestic feature, a collaboration between landscape architect Paul Verlander and Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock/Architects, Inc. (HHCP), includes an exquisite pool with four large Florida sand crane sculptures spouting water into the lower pools. Equally engaging is Rosen Shingle Creek’s reception desk, behind which is a floor to ceiling glass wall that forms a looking glass into a tropical garden, a true delight for out-of-town, and especially international guests. The other end of the lobby is also an eye catcher with its massive pre-cast fireplace and seating area.
The hotel also includes a secondary transportation lobby adjacent to the monumental “Rotunda,” which serves as a reference point for guests coming from the hotel tower to the grand ballrooms. This stunning space, with its wood-clad multi-tiered ceilings, soars over 70 feet in height incorporating layers of clearstory windows.
These extraordinary design ideas—playing up the natural light, utilizing dramatic design features to enhance the welcome experience—did not come about serendipitously.
Rosen Hotels & Resorts has had a long running relationship with Maitland, Florida-based HHCP Architects. These two prominent Central Florida entities have collaborated on four other projects, including three major hotel hotels. And the results have been consistently exceptional.
Tom Hurley, one of the original partners of the 31-year old award-winning architecture firm was the lead designer on Rosen Shingle Creek and proclaimed that “every project we have worked on with Rosen has been a terrific experience. But this one, in particular, we knew had the potential to transcend anything we had done together before.”
Because of the incredible scope of this project, Rosen turned to another trusted partner for the contracting and construction—Welbro Building Corporation. Headquartered in Maitland, Florida, Welbro has been a major player in the Florida construction market for over 27 years and is especially experienced in the hotel/hospitality markets. They are consistently ranked among the nation’s top contractors by Engineering News Record.
The team understood early on the scale of the project on which they were working. In fact, the project was launched with a comprehensive tour around the state, studying and exploring some of the grand hotels of Florida. Hurley explained. “It was the start of an intensely collaborative process that got the entire team—Rosen, HHCP, two interior design teams—Wm. B. Dodson, Inc. and Kristine Gregonis Associates, Inc. and Welbro Construction—started on the same page. We went to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and the northeast part of the state. We even created scrapbooks of each of the properties we visited.”
That trip gave the team the opportunity to really delve into what they envisioned for this new project. Rosen’s idea was a Mediterranean theme, “an Italian revival with Moorish overtones,” Hurley said. “So, we took that idea and challenged ourselves to make it as great as it could be.”
“When I first envisioned the Rosen Shingle Creek, I set my sights high,” explained Rosen. “I studied the hotels that I had always admired. I examined the renowned hotels, with their colorful histories, enviable reputations and household names. And I decided that my next hotel, this hotel, must be of that caliber.”
Upon returning to Central Florida, the team conducted studies on four different sites before settling on the Shingle Creek property. But once this particular site became available, Rosen knew that it was ideal. The history and geography of the land melded perfectly with his idea of paying tribute to Florida’s colorful past.
“What we liked most about this particular spot,” Rosen elaborated, “was its location and the fact that it was a lovely wooded site with many trees—pines and oaks—and wildlife. I decided on the spot to purchase this land.”
“A few days later,” Rosen continued, “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 and discovered, much to my surprise, that it was actually Shingle Creek, the very headwaters to Florida’s famous Everglades. I knew then, that Shingle Creek would be the name of our new hotel.”
Hurley agreed that the site would be ideal. But he also knew there would be challenges ahead. “Rosen’s goal was a 1,500-room hotel, but he wanted to be sure that it felt warm and intimate—not an easy task with such a large property. We could have easily put up a 30-story tower, but that wasn’t what he wanted. Essentially, we had to create something expansive that didn’t feel big.”
Rosen himself issued numerous challenges to the design team. He initiated the discussion of creating a massive column-free ballroom. The challenge pushed the design team to think beyond the ordinary and pushed building technology, too. The resulting 95,000 square foot Gatlin Ballroom is one of the largest column-free ballrooms in the United States.
Rosen Shingle Creek also includes three signature meeting rooms that offer guests access to a large exterior lawn area to be used for special events. One of these meeting rooms even features an upper balcony to be used for pre-function cocktail events so guests can then descend a monumental staircase to the banquet below.
“This is the third (here’s where we say third and wondered about the number) major convention hotel we’ve designed with Rosen, so obviously there’s a strong relationship there,” Hurley said. “Rosen respects our abilities, and between our organization and theirs, we have a healthy give and take of ideas and suggestions. But the biggest thing, from my standpoint, is that those guys really know what they’re doing. We’ve worked on hotels all over the world, and believe me, Rosen is the best in the business.”
Rosen feels similarly about working with HHCP, “First of all, these guys are world-class architects, experienced, knowledgeable and full of great ideas. But what I enjoy most about working with HHCP is that they know how to listen, they understand what we’re looking for, and they know how to present their ideas. Better yet, they know how to take our ideas and make them better. Much better. ”
Hurley commented that one thing that made the process unique for his team was how Rosen allowed various members of the hotel staff to get involved—and not just at the executive level. Rosen brought in representatives from the valet department to share their ideas and expertise to make the parking situation run more smoothly. He solicited input from representatives of the housekeeping department to discuss how to best manage moving laundry through the elevators to the laundry room. Food service, baggage and other departments were invited into the process in a similar manner. As a result, Rosen Shingle Creek is not just aesthetically pleasing, but it operates incredibly efficiently, too. Consequently, the staff is as comfortable as the guests./p>
“I think what amazes me the most,” Hurley concluded, “is how close the finished Rosen Shingle Creek is to the original concept drawings. The character has truly stayed the same.”
Rosen himself echoes the sentiment, “I know that I set my sights high when I first envisioned this hotel. But what I never could have envisioned is that the final product would actually exceed my expectations. I’ve never been as proud of a commercial project as I am of Shingle Creek.”
While Rosen Shingle Creek continues to rack up rave reviews, its success can easily be traced back to one thing—the collaborative process. As Hurley and Rosen both acknowledge, this accomplishment is a reflection of all the members of the team coming to the table with a shared vision and common values and being led by one of the foremost hospitality teams in the world.
Rosen Hotels & Resorts currently owns and operates seven properties in the Orlando market. The growth of Rosen Hotels & Resorts over the past 38 years has been fueled by numerous hospitality-industry awards, employee longevity and a reputation for quality. For more information about Rosen Hotels & Resorts, visit www.rosenhotels.com.
An innovator in architecture since 1975, Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock/Architects, Inc. (HHCP) delivers award-winning, imaginative designs and exceptional services for clients around the world. With a talented, diverse staff of more than 80 architects, planners and support personnel based in Orlando and Beijing, China, HHCP offers clients a unique breadth and depth of expertise through its diverse practice areas. For more information about HHCP, visit www.hhcp.com.