About Harris Rosen, President and C.O.O. of Rosen Hotels & Resorts
Born and raised on New York City’s lower eastside, Rosen received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1961 from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. He served for three years in the United States Army as an officer in Germany and South Korea, and then completed the Advanced Management course at the University of Virginia’s Graduate School of Business on a Hilton Corporation Scholarship.
Rosen began his career at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City as a convention salesman. He continued with the Hilton Hotel Corporation occupying various management positions in some of the larger Hilton hotels. He worked as the Director of Food and Beverage Operations at the Pittsburgh Hilton, the Assistant General Manager at the Buffalo Statler/Hilton, the Assistant General Manager at the Dallas Hilton, the Assistant General Manager at the New Yorker Hotel and the Manager of the Cape Kennedy Hilton.
Rosen then joined the Post Company of Dallas as Director of Hotel Operations and while there was involved in the development and management of one of the finest resort properties in Acapulco. He left the Post Company after several years to join the Disney Company in California as Director of Hotel Planning. He was intimately involved in the design and development of the Contemporary Resort Hotel and the Polynesian Village Hotel which opened at Walt Disney World in Orlando in October of 1971.
In 1974, Rosen left Disney to purchase the 256 room Quality Inn on International Drive in Orlando. Today, with 728 rooms it is the second largest Quality Inn in the chain. Along the way, Rosen acquired the International Inn, recently renamed the Rosen Inn closest to Universal and then shortly thereafter constructed the Quality Inn Plaza currently the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, which at the time was the largest Quality Inn with 1020 rooms.
In 1987, he completed the first phase of the 320 Comfort Inn at Lake Buena Vista; a year later, he completed the second phase creating a 640-room hotel, the largest Comfort Inn in the chain. The hotel is now the Clarion Inn at Lake Buena Vista.
This was followed in 1991 with the opening of the 800-room Rosen Plaza, the first convention property within the Rosen Hotel family. In 1995, Rosen opened the 1,334-room Rosen Centre Hotel, which is contiguous to the Orange County Convention Center.
In 2001, Rosen acquired 250 acres directly east of the 1.5-million sq. ft. expansion of the Orange County Convention Center. On this site, he developed his newest property, the 1,500-room AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek luxury hotel which opened in September 2006. The hotel has approximately 445,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space and includes the Shingle Creek Golf Club, The Spa at Shingle Creek, walking and jogging trails, seasonal fishing, four outdoor swimming pools and 14 dining/lounging options including the AAA Four Diamond A Land Remembered classic steakhouse and AAA Four Diamond Cala Bella Italian Bistro.
In 2002, Rosen donated a 20-acre site to the University of Central Florida for the Rosen College of Hospitality Management. In addition, Rosen provided approximately $10 million in additional funds to construct the college. The college opened in January 2004 and is currently the fastest growing college in the United States having grown from 75 students to a current enrollment of nearly 3,000 in just 6 years.
In recent years, Rosen has served as the Honorary Co-Chair of the Bethune-Cookman College Statue Project with the late Dr. Dorothy Height, President Emeriti of the National Council of Negro Women. The purpose of this initiative was to have a statue sculpted of America’s beloved Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune including fountains and landscaping on the campus of Bethune-Cookman College which Dr. Bethune founded in 1904. The fundraiser was a huge success and in January, 2005, the statue was unveiled on the Bethune-Cookman College campus.
Rosen is a member of the Cornell Society of Hotelmen, and the Waldorf Astoria Distinguished Alumni Association, he is also the past President of the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He currently serves on the board of directors of the YMCA Aquatic Center. Rosen’s philanthropic endeavors include a $2.5 million dollar scholarship endowment for UCF, (which was matched by the State), and a continuing multi-million dollar commitment to the Tangelo Park neighborhood. The Tangelo Park Program has since its inception provided free preschool to all two-, three-, and four-year olds who live in the Tangelo Park neighborhood. In addition, he provides an all-expense paid education for those who reside in the Tangelo Park neighborhood and are accepted to vocational school, community college, junior college or a four-year public college in the state of Florida. Thus far, approximately 190 youngsters who reside in the neighborhood have been provided full college scholarships.
Rosen contributed approximately $3.5 million to design and build a new Jewish Community Center located in southwest Orlando which opened in September, 2009. The JCC accommodates approximately 150 students, ages ranging from 2 months to 5 years old and provides state-of-the-art recreational facilities as well. In addition, Rosen was recently listed in Forbes magazine as the 30th most generous philanthropist in 2008 in America for having given away over $30 million.
The Tangelo Park Program defines a new kind of philanthropy. Funding is not allocated in the conventional sense of “funding;” rather Mr. Rosen simply pays the bills, attends every community meeting, and provides services only when the community identifies its needs. Therefore, the person who funds the program participates actively on a day-to-day basis.
The reporting structure is informal. There is no project officer and data are collected on an as needed basis. Tangelo is a private sector initiative in the public community that strips away many bureaucratic impediments to making progress that in so many cases cripples good intended programs. The Tangelo program is politically non-threatening, long-term, and student-centric.
The Tangelo Park Program has the two necessary components for success: a philanthropic spirit of giving and staying and volunteers, who become totally involved. Tangelo is a community that cares. The Tangelo Park Program gives young people hope. The template is simple to replicate with no need for new ideas for the program—just promote the program to perpetuate it.
Tangelo should not be viewed as an intervention in the conventional sense of project funding cycles that emanate from the public and some private sectors. There was a beginning, but in the foreseeable future, there will be no end to the Tangelo Park Program initiative that is funded in perpetuity by Mr. Harris Rosen, an Orlando, Florida hotelier. Mr. Rosen’s philosophy is, “To always do the right thing.”