Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Winter Park's Langford Resort Hotel

At mid-century, the fabulous hi-rise beach resorts of Miami were known for hosting celebrities, having exotic nightclubs and creating detailed interiors to amaze their guests. The closest Central Florida can come to matching that phenomena would have been the Langford Resort Hotel, formerly of Winter Park.

Robert E. Langford built the Langford Apartments in 1949 and the hotel a couple years later. Coming from the hotel business in Chicago, the Langford family purchased land in Winter Park during the Depression. In an essay about the hotel written by Mr. Langford, he describes building the hotel:
"I traveled around Florida with my architect checking out the design of other hotels. I told the architect I wanted to get away from the straight symmetrical-type hotel building. We decided to build around the trees... I wanted to keep the tropical effect.

I traveled the world a couple times. A lot of my ideas came from those trips. For instance, the balconies on the front of the hotel was my idea... When we were working up our plans for the swimming pool, my architect wanted to place the pool in the parking lot, but I said, 'No, people like to look at the water.'

We had diving boards, Olympic divers came from all over to practice in our pool. There were two instructors here from Hungary who taught and gave lessons. We had water ballets, shows and contests."

Their rack brochure states: "With an ambiance of quaint European inns, the Langford Resort Hotel is like a tropical oasis nestled in the fashionable Winter Park district of Orlando."

The hotel became a cherished Central Florida institution until it closed in 2000. My brother and I were mesmerized by the property and its incredible bar, the Del Prado Lounge, named after the Langford's Chicago hotel. Langford describes the decor of the bar saying:
"The tile we selected came from Puerto Rico. The top of the bar came form Mexico. I like murals, and I enjoyed decorating."
The eclectic style had elements from a little bit of everything; tiki, Native American, pirate, Spanish, Southwest... you name it. Cannons and anchors surrounded the pool. A Japanese Torii marked the entrance to the spa. Mermaids decorated the bathrooms. Backlit can can girls graced the walls of the conference room. The entire space was a delight for the eyes. And the eclectic group of people who hung out there just added to the ambiance.

As my brother began studying to become a professional photographer, he turned his lens to the Langford and chronicled the legendary property, the staff and its loyal patrons, through the very last day of operation. Following are some of his photos documenting that period of time. The property was demolished to make way for condos and has sat vacant for almost nine years. Just last week, however, it was announced that Rollins College had purchased the property to build, you guessed it, another hotel.

Images by Kilby Photo

If you have Langford memories you'd like to share, join the I Miss The Langford group on Facebook.


  1. I apologize for the inconsistencies in the text formatting. Blogspot and I aren't seeing eye to eye today.

  2. Thank you SO much for these images! I have fond memories of the Langford Hotel, but sadly I was never able to capture the ambiance of the interiors with a photograph and all of the images that I've since seen are all postcards. I had the pleasure of staying in the Safari Room and could never quite describe the wild decor to people, but there it is! Thank you so much.

  3. Great memories staying here when we would visit Winter Park with my family! Seemed like such a magical place but most of the 1980's seemed magical! So sad they had to destroy this place. There was no other place like it in the world!!!!!

  4. I took swimming lessons here around 1964. The instructor's name was Hank. I was around 5 years old at the time. I remember a parrot in the breezeway by the pool!

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  6. stayed at the Langford several times on vacation in February's during our trips south to attend races in Daytona, or just visit Winter Park. Its a shame the condition of the property at last prior to closing. Long live the old places, way too many new cookie-cutter hotels.

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  8. I met my grandma and grandpa for the first time in 1999 and it scared my memory so much I love that place and always told myself one day I'll be back so I have a family now and was planning a trip to Florida spring of 2017 bring my wife and kids so I went to book a suite and found out it closed in 2000 I've been telling my family about this place and now it's closed I don't want to come to Florida now we were so excited now my family will be very disappointed well that's to bad it was one of the best places I've ever stayed and now I'm sad by Langford

  9. Does anyone have photos of the cannons and anchors around the pool?

  10. Booked the Tree Top Room for our daughter's and son-in law's wedding in the early 80's and remember the tiny elevator to get up to it. Room was so beautiful with all the light coming in. Still have pictures and wonderful memories of that day.

  11. I was cashier in the Anchor Room restaurant in 1986. There were so many unforgettable characters there!

  12. I was a waiter there in the empire room with Sam.