“Black-out weekend” hits the Elm City

Elm City hotels such as the Study will see an influx of visitors this Weekend.
Elm City hotels such as the Study will see an influx of visitors this Weekend. Photo by Alex Schmeling.

Before thousands of Harvard and Yale alums, parents and friends flock to the Elm City to take part in the football game festivities, they experience a whole different game — finding hotels for the weekend.

For the Omni Hotel, the Study and the New Haven Hotel, University events including family weekend, freshmen move-in, commencement, reunions and the Game, mark the hotel’s busiest weekends. For many alums interviewed by the News said they choose between the old Guard Omni Hotel and the Study, a more modern hotel on Chapel Street. While the Study offers a fresh alternative to travelers in the Elm City, the Omni’s traditional style and strong service appeal to customers, according to those interviewed. Of the 15 people interviewed, only three mentioned the New Haven Hotel, which underwent a major renovation after an ownership transfer in 2007, as a potential hotel option for the weekend. The New Haven Hotel filled to capacity on Thursday night, while the Omni has been filled for several weeks and the Study has been filled for a year.

The Study opened in the beginning of the 2008 school year with the intention of putting a “more upscale product on the market,” according to owner Paul McGowan in a 2010 interview with the News. General Manager of the Study Anthony Moir said that in order to accommodate the crowds on what he called a “black-out weekend” because of the massive influx of business, all members of management will be working the weekend, in addition to extra belle staff and concierge staff.

“As we get more popular and busier, more people want to be here,” Moir said. “We’ve been accepted within the Yale community, which we really appreciate.”

Moir believes that the Study’s prime location and reputation have developed high demand for the hotel’s rooms — parents who wish to stay there for graduation must book the room four years in advance.

He added that many of the hotel’s customers are repeat guests that annually come to these special events. The University’s Alumni Board and representatives from the President’s Office, for example, will stay at the Study this weekend, according to Moir.

Jennifer Sorensen, a Yale parent who has stayed at the Study several times, said she is attracted to the Study because of its unique rooms. Since Commencement, the Study has updated all of its quarters with new carpeting and new color palettes — in addition to setting up a new lounge in the hotel’s restaurant Heirloom, a big draw for the hotel and for the community as well, Moir said. One Yale parent and visitor, Mallory Saunderson, said she was disappointed to hear that the Study was not offering rooms when she called in February, anticipating that rooms would still be available. Instead, Saunderson decided to stay at the larger Omni, which she characterized as another high-quality hotel in the area with good service and comfortable rooms.

The Omni’s size serves to its advantage, as the facility features 306 rooms, compared to the 124 at the Study. While the Omni was sold out for several weeks, cancellations have caused six rooms to still be available as of Thursday night.

During the past two years, the Omni has also undergone a renovation of its own, performing a routine update to its lobby, guest suites and corridors, according to front desk workers. The Omni’s director of sales and marketing was not able to comment.

New Haven Hotel Maintenance and Front Desk Manager John, who declined to include his last name without consent for a boss, said that the hotel’s 118 rooms typically become full three months before significant events. However, this year the rooms were only full two days before the Game. Sorensen added the New Haven Hotel still could attract travelers given its central location.

The Game kicks off at 12 p.m. this Saturday at the Yale Bowl.

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