Issa Homes has been building award-winning luxury residences for discerning celebrities, athletes, and families since 1972. Meet the people who help bring your luxury home vision to life.
Founder and Chairman
Francis Issa’s philosophy drives every new home and design decision: build with the homeowner in mind.
Issa Homes founder Francis Issa’s family connection to the Walt Disney World® brand spans many decades—all the way back to when Walt Disney was himself a guest at the Issa family’s hotel.
The Myrtle Bank, founded by Francis’ father and uncle, Abe Issa, was the top hotel in Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s. Francis excelled as Managing Director of two Issa hotel properties and in expanding their successful properties, found his passion for building luxury properties.
While Abe went on to earn the moniker “The Father of Jamaican Tourism,” Francis set his sights on Florida’s Gold Coast. After earning his Business Administration and Finance degree at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA, Francis had a serendipitous encounter with building industry leader Fred Castillo. Together, the duo secured a small loan of $12,000 and used it to fund the building of their first two homes in Hollywood, Florida. The proceeds from those home sales, each of which surpassed their expectations funding their first subdivision purchase.
Today, Issa Homes is renowned for its namesake’s commitment to luxury and safety in equal measures. As the builder of thousands of luxury homes for discerning celebrities, athletes, and successful business people in an area of the world most vulnerable to hurricanes, the company has unrivaled experience in marrying structural integrity with comfort, luxury, and aesthetic intrigue.
Partner and President
Creating the best customer experience possible is Don Hempel’s mission when meeting with home buyers.
Design, development, homeowner relations and marketing leader Hempel work with architects and designers to ensure each Issa Homes custom luxury build exceeds its buyers’ expectations. A graduate of the University of Miami with a Business Degree and a licensed general contractor, he operated the successful residential building brand Hempel Homes prior to joining Issa Homes in 1987.
As a managing partner and President, Don oversaw over 600 luxury Issa Homes builds in Arvida’s Weston community over 13 years and when Disney invited Issa Homes to build in Celebration, Hempel was at the helm.
Today, when he’s not enjoying being on the water with friends and family or visiting his old stomping grounds in the Bahamas, Don is laser-focused on creating the best customer experiences possible for Issa Homes homeowners. He delights in overdelivering on luxury buyers’ expectations.
Don lives in Celebration, Florida with his wife and kids. He spends time in Anna Maria Island and Jupiter, Florida where he enjoys family, fishing and Miami Hurricanes football.
What’s the best thing about building in Orlando?
“The location, the lifestyle, and access to almost every part of Florida in every direction,” said Hempel.