New Hampshire's Plymouth State University has taken a proactive step toward opening a new revenue stream on campus. The university's newest residence hall -- a 96,000 square foot, seven-story facility -- will convert to a 188-room hotel during the summer months.
As reported by Building Design and Construction, the new Merrill Place residence hall opened last August, and has all the necessary components to act as a full-service hotel. In addition to standard lodging, the building has been constructed with built-in reception and concierge stations, as well as includes a conference center that has thus far been booked solid.
University officials maintain that Merrill Place’s primary purpose is to provide campus housing for students, which comes in response to a boost in admissions over the past few years. Plymouth State currently has 4,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students, and with the opening of Merrill Place, the university can now offer campus housing to 60% of its undergrads.
“Aligning program and aesthetics with a revenue-generating model is increasingly critical to today’s budget-conscious colleges and universities,” said Yanel de Angel, an Associate Principal for the project's architect, Perkins + Will. “The students here have embraced this whole idea about a residence hall with a hospitality layer. And we came away thinking that we might be able to take a little bit of risk with our designs in the future.”
By doubling as a hotel and conference center, the $33 million project will also provide a valuable service to the surrounding Plymouth, N.H. community. Plymouth previously boasted just one event facility with a total capacity of 330 people, and only a handful of hotels. The new conference center at Merrill Place can accommodate 276 seated attendees and 827 standing attendees.
On the student residence side of the coin, there are two room sizes available to student residents: 10 x 18 feet and 11.6 by 18 feet. Some of the smaller student rooms are currently single occupancy, while double-occupancy rooms will see the two twin beds pushed together and rented as a single king bed rooms for hotel purposes.
Following recent administrative personnel changes, Plymouth State has been slower to market Merrill Place as a summer-season hotel than initially expected, though the university has begun compiling advertising campaign materials. There are plans to offer hotel room and the conference center rentals both as a package and individually.