College living, hotel style

September 28, 2009 2:58:50 PM PDT
It's not your typical college dorm living arrangement. Some local students at Rutgers University are spending their semester living in a hotel. The unique living experience isn't just helping the school, it's also a big boost to the hotel during the economic crisis. Kailynn Barbour has the perfect atmosphere for studying, with lots of amenities.

"It's kind of like having a mini apartment," she said. "I have the mini-fridge, I have my own bathroom, I have a nice little patio, so it's different, I like it."

What's not to like about being a college student, living in a nice hotel where there is a gym, a pool at your disposal plus once-a-week maid service?

"The parents that come here often say that they wish they were the ones moving in here," said Delmy Lendof, with Rutgers University.

The Crowne Plaza, in Somerset, is home this year to 500 Rutgers University students, who have their own wing of the hotel. It follows a more temporary arrangement from last year to deal with a shortage of dormitory rooms on the Rutgers Campus.

"It's not the ideal situation, because we don't ever want to have students at a hotel, so it's not ideal," Lendof said. "But we are pretty pleased with the fact that we are able to provide students with an option."

Students get their meals from the hotel kitchen for take out or they can eat in the fancy restaurant. They are required to be at least sophomores.

"In the dorm last year, we shared a bathroom with 10 other guys on a floor which is, I'm sure you can imagine, gets to be quite interesting at times," said student Tom Bonfonti.

Rutgers is not the first university in the nation to have a student residency arrangement with a nearby hotel.

The students pay Rutgers at dormitory rates. The hotel gives the university a package deal.

"It's good for us because they've occupied a significant portion of a building that wasn't very full," hotel manager Dan Williams said.

There's also free shuttle bus service to the campus. Rutgers hopes the completion of new dorms in a couple of years will eliminate the need for the hotel. But in the meantime, the students are not complaining.