Harris Rosen

Taking risks and continually seeking success

Hotelier, Philanthropist, and Entrepreneur: Harris Rosen created a hospitality empire in the Orlando area built on strong relationships with motorcoach companies in the northeast. A graduate of Cornell University’s renowned School of Hotel Administration, he rose through the ranks of corporate hospitality providers to become the Director of Hotel Planning for Walt Disney World in 1968. In that role he oversaw the design and development of the Contemporary Resort Hotel, the Polynesian Village Hotel and the Fort Wilderness Campground. He was part of the team that opened Walt Disney World in 1971.

Harris Rosen will share his story of striking out on his own after achieving success in the corporate world.

In 1974 Rosen left Disney to purchase the 256-room bankrupt Quality Inn on International Drive in Orlando. The oil embargo was at its height and many Orlando hotels were bankrupt or closed.
To book business for the hotel on which he’d spent his entire $20,000 life savings, Rosen had to hitchhike to the Northeast to meet with motor coach companies. Once there, he met prospective
clients in bars and pubs often negotiating contracts on cocktail napkins.

I would ask ‘What rate do they want to stay with us? and they would say 9 dollars, or 8 or 7. “I would write that rate down and the name of the company on a cocktail napkin, sign my name, and that was the contract. We shook hands and that was it,” recalled Rosen. Often, his new clients felt so sorry for him, having no money and no transportation, they would drive him to their competitors for his next appointment. After seeing much of New England — securing new contracts all along the way– Rosen returned home five days later thrilled and excited to have completed his mission with enough business to sustain the hotel for the first year.

Rosen Hotels & Resorts

Founded in 1974, Rosen Hotels & Resorts currently features a collection of nine Central Florida hotels providing 6,694 guestrooms—approximately six percent of the Central Florida inventory. The award-winning collection includes six leisure hotels—the 728-room Rosen Inn International, 1020-room Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, 315-room Rosen Inn (closest to Universal Orlando Resort®), 640-room Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista, 134-room Midpointe Hotel and the 224 Clarion Inn and Suites at International Drive. Three luxury convention properties — the 800-room Rosen Plaza, 1334-room Rosen Centre and 1501-room Rosen Shingle Creek—combined feature 700,000 sq. ft. of versatile meeting and event space.

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