Try Going Back to School for Your Next Meeting

Not everyone walking around college campuses this month is a student, and some won’t be leaving at the end of the day. More universities than ever are including conference hotels on their grounds to accommodate meetings of the mind in academic settings. In fact, a cottage industry of campus hotel management companies has emerged.

Check out some of these properties and the opportunities they represent for creating smarter meetings.

Southern Management Corporation

The Hotel at the University of Maryland opened at the beginning of September and offers 297 guest rooms, four restaurants, a lobby bar, open-air Zen garden terrace and spa. Southern Management Corporation owns and operates the hotel and works in partnership with the university. Ten separate event spaces totaling 43,000 sq. ft. are named for notable figures, including the Wright brothers, who taught the first army pilots how to fly at the world’s oldest continuously operating airport (located just around the corner); Harriet Tubman, who was born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore; and Muppets creator and UMD graduate Jim Henson. The hotel also boasts a penthouse event space with views of the campus. The company already operates The Hotel at Arundel Preserve near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. “We wanted to spark economic growth along Baltimore Avenue and throughout the town of College Park,” explained developer David H. Hillman.

Graduate Hotels

This Chicago-based company runs nine hotels on college campuses—Ann Arbor, Athens, Berkeley, Charlottesville, Lincoln, Madison, Oxford, Richmond and Tempe—and has plans for three new locations—Iowa City, Minneapolis and Seattle—in the next year. Graduate Berkeley (formerly Hotel Durant) was purchased and completely renovated in 2015. It offers 1,836 sq. ft. of meeting space in three areas, including a boardroom, dining room and conference space, popular with banquets. Like Graduate’s other campus properties, the decor pulses with local art, academic memorabilia and free Wi-Fi.

LVX Preferred Hotels & Resorts

The Charles Hotel, Harvard Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, opened in 1985. The five-star property has welcomed celebrities, scholars, moguls, artists, philanthropists, politicians, opinion-makers and world leaders. Dignitaries making this campus tradition a temporary base include Barbra Streisand, former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton, Ben Affleck and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It includes 18,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space, 295 guest rooms, the local culinary gem Henrietta’s Table, the decadent nightlife of Noir and the world-famous jazz club Regattabar.

Cornell University

Students from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration have been working at The Statler Hotel at the heart of the campus in Ithaca, New York, since it was built in 1950 as an experiment in hotel education. The contemporary-style property includes 153 guest rooms, three restaurants and an Ivy League experience with every visit. Gatherings held in Statler’s 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including J. Willard Marriott Executive Education Center and Carrier Ballroom, get high marks from attendees for training a future generation of hospitality experts.

Morris Inn at Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame owns and operates its own hotel and conference center based on the motto “where scholarship and hospitality meet.” Notre Dame Conference Center houses 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space spread out over 12 seminar rooms and a 375-seat auditorium equipped with translation services for as many as 14 different languages all at once. The 150-guest-room Morris Inn was built in 1952 as the result of a gift from an alum. It was renovated in 2013 thanks to another gift from the benefactor’s daughter and is now a AAA Four Diamond Hotel.