A veritable rags-to-riches story, Rosen
started from humble beginnings, joining
the Army and attending Cornell University’s acclaimed hospitality school before
angling into an entry-level job with New
York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, where his
youthful bravado talked him into a sales
position and soon after entry into Hilton’s
management training program. An independent thinker and firebrand from his
start in the hospitality industry, Rosen famously worked for Disney but soon found
the corporate environment there a tad too
stifling for his independent attitude.
After starting his ownership portfolio with
a two-story Quality Inn—now the Rosen Inn
International, where his humble office occupies a former guest room—Rosen Hotels
& Resorts now counts seven major properties in Orlando, including two attached to
the Orange County Convention Center.
But for a person with the integrity of
Rosen, success comes with the responsibility to give back.
“It really happened about 25 years ago
when I was in the final stages of designing
our fifth property and sixth property, and
dreaming about a seventh property, which
would be a resort,” he said. “It just occurred to
me that it was really time for me to say, ‘Thank
you, God,’ for all of the blessings I’ve received,
and to start thinking about offering a helping
hand to those that needed a helping hand. It’s
not something everyone can do, because if
you have a family, that’s your first priority, but
if you’ve been blessed, why not do a lot?”
Beginning with healthcare and free college
tuition programs for his employees, whom
he refers to as associates—“We’re not a
company with an employer and employees.
We are a family with associates.”—Rosen has
since branched out to assisting underserved
Orlando communities and providing relief to
Haiti, where many of his associates hail from.
(See “Rosen Relief” sidebar, next page.)
This high level of giving has translated into
one of the lowest employee turnover rates in
the industry, which Rosen feels is in part due
to the benefits his company provides.
“Management philosophy and philan-
thropic philosophy really coincide,” he said.
But business sense aside, the real reason
for his charitable efforts is much less complicated and much more pure.
“We do it for very simple reasons—be-
cause it’s the right thing to do, and because
we love America,” said Rosen, whose moth-
er’s family came from Austria-Hungary and
his dad’s from Ukraine. “I’ve had wonderful
opportunities, and here I am today. We are
so grateful and appreciative that all we’re
trying to do is say, ‘Thank you for being
born here and all of the blessings over the
years.’ It’s really not that complicated.”
His work helping the underserved Orlando
communities of Tangelo Park and Parramore
provides educational resources that give youth
a critical first step on the ladder of success.
“We hear a lot about income inequality,
and it does exist, and it’s expected to exist
For Orlando hospitality industry icon Harris Rosen, charity may have begun at home, when he shocked the business world some 25 years ago by offering his employees a low-cost healthcare program—later
building his own medical clinic—and free college tuition for
them and their families. But since then, his philanthropic
heart has expanded through Orlando and beyond via an
impressive number of humanitarian programs that have
made a massive difference to those in need.
Hotel legend Harris Rosen shows us that success should be shared
2016 BOB GRAHAM CENTER
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
MIXTE ST JEAN DE JONC LABEILLE-HARRIS ROSEN SCHOOL, HAITI
TANGELO PARK SCHOOL
GIVE KIDS THE WORLD