A Yale-themed ‘Study’

Paul McGowan, owner of the Study at Yale, uses lots of adjectives to describe his new hotel on Chapel Street.

“It’s a bit European, a bit eclectic, a bit traditional, a bit contemporary,” he said while riding in the hotel’s elevator last week. “But it’s really about Yale, too.”

The rooms at the Study at Yale are outfitted with plush leather chairs and ample desk space — basic essentials for Ivy League clientele.
Ginger Jiang
The rooms at the Study at Yale are outfitted with plush leather chairs and ample desk space — basic essentials for Ivy League clientele.

There is no doubt that McGowan is betting on Yale to bolster his business; indeed, it is no coincidence that the hotel opened just in time for Parents’ Weekend. With a two-night minimum stay and higher rates for the weekend, the Study is sold out tonight — despite its having been open just over a week.

But more than simply counting on Yale parents and alumni for patronage, McGowan also looked to the campus for design inspiration. His hotel is only the fifth in the New Haven downtown area, but it is without a doubt the most up-to-date. McGowan started with relatively little: The Study is a renovation of the old Colony hotel, a drab 1970s relic with only 86 rooms that he bought in 2006 for roughly $7 million and has spent the better part of two years renovating.

Other hotels, though, are catching on. Including the 124 rooms at the Study, New Haven proper has around 800 hotel rooms. Many of those will be renovated and many more will be added in the coming months as competition increases in a market that some say has long been complacent, according to some local hotel managers.

A bookish study

If the Study is any barometer, then there are many visitors to New Haven in search of seersucker bathrobes and a location just a (literal) stone’s throw from Pierson College.

Anthony Moir, the Study’s sales and marketing director, described an almost endless number of connections between the Study and Yale on a tour of the hotel for the News.

For starters, with the permission of Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, the Study is known formally as the Study at Yale. This is also true of the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale and the Courtyard by Marriott at Yale. But many of the Study’s walls are also painted a shade of Yale blue; photographs in each room show the campus in various seasons; and students of the Yale School of Music produced music to be played over the lobby speaker system.

The best — and most expensive — rooms at the Study are those that face north, with large windows facing the intimate courtyards of Yale’s residential colleges. But even views to the south are tied to Yale, as variously colored glass panes evoke the campus’s playful stained glass designed by G. Owen Bonawit and others.

The new hotel is just down the street from the renovated Rudolph Hall, and across from the Yale School of Art’s Green Hall. Yet it is also a bookish hotel, with plush leather chairs and lamps that Moir described as “conducive to reading.”

With rates beginning at $279 a night and rising as high as $1,400 for a presidential suite, the Study might also be said to have highbrow prices. But Ginny Kozlowski, president and chief executive of the Greater New Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted in an interview that while the Study is certainly at the high end of New Haven hotels, rates in the region have been steadily rising over the last decade.

Adding mattresses

The Study’s main competition is the Omni, long a mainstay of Yale’s more moneyed visitors. Moir said the Omni, a 306-room facility that is almost indistinguishable from other Omni hotels around the country, “can’t really compete with us as far as the look and feel of the hotel.”

But Thomas Sullivan, the Omni’s general manager, said there is more to a hotel than the flat-screen televisions and iPod docking stations that the Study boasts.

“When the lights are turned out at night, every hotel room is basically the same,” he said. “So what it comes down to is service. The new competition is just going to help keep us sharp on our toes.”

Kozlowski added, however, that there is enough demand in New Haven to allow for both the Study and the Omni to succeed.

Other hoteliers said they are hoping to get in on the success, as well.

The Courtyard by Marriott will soon add 47 rooms to its current 160, and the New Haven Hotel on George Street is set to undergo a complete renovation that will add an indeterminate number of rooms, the hotels’ respective managers said. Centerplan Companies, which is developing a site at the intersection of College and Crown streets, has said its overall, mixed-use plans are in flux because of the economy, but it is proceeding with plans for a hotel on the site.

“New Haven is revitalizing,” Robert Rosenblatt, the New Haven Hotel’s general manager, said. “And travelers want to see that revitalization in their hotel rooms.”

Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, Yale’s associate vice president of New Haven and State Affairs, noted that Yale’s expansion contributes to the added demand for hotel rooms. With a new School of Management campus in the works, two new residential colleges set to add hundreds of students to Yale College and the Smilow Cancer Center already under construction, Yale will soon bring even more guests to New Haven hotels — even those who do not share the University’s name.

“It seems clear that the market will continue to grow in terms of visitors to campus,” Morand said. “This makes New Haven a pretty unique city, given the economic climate elsewhere.”

Sulivan, the general manager at the Omni, put Yale’s role as a magnet to New Haven more simply.

“Orlando has Disney,” he said. “New Haven has Yale.”

Comments

  • Yes!

    Finally some competition for the Omni! New Haven's been waiting for this…

  • S

    Great! Many times I have trouble booking hotel rooms for guests to our (yale-affiliated) center, because the omni is full, the courtyard is full. and given a very bad experience with another option, will never use them again. welcome to the Study!

  • Anon

    I think it's disgusting that Yale continues to allow New Haven hotels to totally rip off parents and friends during Parent's Weekend and Commencement. My parents can barely afford to fly in this economic climate, how can they possibly afford a $575 per night room at The Study (with min. 3 nights) during graduation?

  • Anonymous

    New Haven really needs some hotel rooms on the cheaper side too (other than the nonsense you get at the Duncan which can't even classify as a motel). A reasonable, no frills $65/night motel. That said…

    #3 - Your parents should look VERY early at numerous hotels and motels in outlying communities. A 5 minute drive from North Haven or a 15 minute drive from Milford are totally worth the hotel savings.

  • Steve

    I am eagerly awaiting the next New Haven hotel that simply does NOT bear the name "at Yale." Please!

  • hmm

    great to see this place opening up. looks beautiful. but $279 for an average night its quite pricey. i wonder how much business they'll actually get. maybe there's enough wealthy parents out there to make it work? i hope so. or maybe i just wish i could afford that kind of luxury.

  • Bob

    @Steve

    They name them "at Yale" because Yale is the only reason they exist, and the only reason anyone would ever want to stay at a hotel in New Haven.

  • Econ

    To #3,

    It's called supply and demand.

    If the hotels kept their rates cheap in the face of massive demand- then some families would book huge numbers of rooms.

    But raising the price to equilibrate with demand, the hotels assure a fair apportionment of resources.

    The increased prices also provide an incentive for the hotels to expand their capacity- which is why the Marriott is adding another wing of rooms, and why The Study at Yale is entering the market.

    The prize of Parents Weekend and Graduation increased rates/revenue is enough to float the hotels during the dead months of december through march.

    I bet you are for "price gouging laws" after hurricanes too? Then I guess I should thank you for all the gasoline shortages those laws cause.

  • Matt

    @ #4: C'mon, the Duncan isn't that bad! Sure I had to lock Mom in after her trip to the shared "bathroom," which was nasty, and I nearly got into a fist-fight with the drunk "caretaker" because I was too loud trying to open the 16th century door. That said, the room itself was fine, and I was able to negotiate the price down to $30 per night. Also, Mom survived.

  • Anonymous

    The Duncan is a fine option, you over privileged cad. I've stayed there and that's where my parents will stay.

    "My parents can barely afford to fly in this economic climate"
    HA! That's precious.

  • jouster

    #3: "Allow?"

    Yale doesn't own the hotels. What woudl you have them do?

  • @ Econ (Unregistered User)

    I hope that you werent econ at yale.

    "If the hotels kept their rates cheap in the face of massive demand- then some families would book huge numbers of rooms." Fear of overbooking by one family is hardly reason enough to triple already inflated rates. You simply monitor/limit the number of rooms that can be reserved by any family or, at the very least, allow guests to lock in a lower rate by booking earlier.

    The hotels are raising their prices around parents' weekend/graduation based on pure free market greed. it's not necessarily a bad thing but it would be nice if the office of yale/new haven negotiated for a certain block of rooms to be held at a reasonable/normal rate and reserved on a first come, first-served basis.

    until then, parents can, as #4 suggested, stay in nearby towns where the rates are cheaper - that's what we did on graduation and it worked out perfectly (less convenient, but doable).

  • Jack

    I always stay in the Duncan. I love it! It's something out the past. And who can complain about the price? Fifty bucks. I only wish NY or Boston had something like it. Get over it. It's only a lace you sleep!

  • alum

    I love the Duncan too!

    To those complaining about the prices, keep in mind that New Haven is an international destination for conferences and events due to the presence of Yale and Yale-New Haven Hospital. A lot of the visitors here can easily afford $600 per night hotel rooms because they are coming on business trips.

  • Spherical Cow

    Cheers to the Duncan! (And to #10) Have none of you ever stayed at a Motel 6 before?! (…oh right… probably not) Well, the Duncan is perfectly clean, and plenty of the rooms, #9 Matt, have private baths, for ~$50 a night. I suppose if you want laundry service, and in-house dining you'll have to go elsewhere.

    Oh wait! Thai Taste is in the basement!

  • Eeeww

    Do you guys all work at the Duncan? My parents stayed there last year, and after seeing their rooms, I'd bet that the hotel would be shut down by health inspectors should they ever check it out.

  • co-sign #16

    I agree, they must be Duncan employees.

    $50 is a real stretch for a place where I was afraid to put down my stuff, let alone fall asleep. Maybe it was just the room they showed me, but I had no desire to pay a full $50 to reenact Misery.

    I am not elitist but I do expect the place to be clean, well-lit, and not smell like moth balls - oh wait, does make me elitist?