The Presidential Suite has never been so aptly named. With three living ex-presi-dents as alumni, it is likely that the Study at Yule, a newly built on-campus hotel just might fill that suite as it was intended.
Paul McGowan, a former executive at Starwood Hotels and Resorts who launched his own company Hospitality 3 in 2003, saw the opportunity to tap into an active market of visiting parents and famous visitors of all walks of life. He chose Yale as the flagship effort for his university hotel concept.
The hotel is located in the center of Yale’s New Haven campus, on a spot where an inn previously stood. According to the designer of The Study at Yale, Jill Greaves of Toronto-bused KPMB Architects, “that space on campus has been an inn for hundreds of years.” “It had the karma of a hotel and meeting place,” she said.
Yet, the hotel did not share the same Ivy League reputation as the university, and did not appeal to a well-traveled guest. “It looked a bit like a motel, said Greaves.
The building was gutted and two floors were added, which allowed for the architectural team in create 124 guestrooms.
Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest walks through the glass facade, and is greeted by two public spaces meant for relaxing; a living room and a restaurant/bar, Heirloom. Unexpectedly, Heirloom’s bar is popular with the university’s graduate students.
In Greaves’ design, comfort and the guest’s ease of use was critical. All furniture in the hotel was custom-designed and fit to property, ‘The symmetry between dining room. and lounge was important,'” she said.
In the hotel’s renovation, large, uncovered windows were used to let in ample amounts of natural light. All guestrooms have a full-width window as well.
“We made desks to fit along the full window wall,” said Greaves. ” The rooms also have a bookcase, and other elements of upscale dorm rooms. We tried to utilize design ideas that were bits and pieces of the campus environments. We provided good reading material in every room, along with a leather reading chair and an ottoman.”
The Presidential Suite shares the clean lines and artistic touches that the typical guestrooms offer. The bathroom is larger, fit for a Presidential entourage, and includes a kitchenette.
Seven “studies” were built for the hotel. They are designed to offer den-like accommodations for artists or professionals who need more space. There is a dedicated “Artists Studio” suite that is equipped with an easel and art supplies.
“It’s a unique idea in the campus environment,” said Greaves. “It gives the university a place where people can meet and feel comfortable.”
McGowan, the hotels owner, plans to take The Study at Yale, and use it as a model for other university hotels.
Greaves agrees that there is opportunity to place location-specific hotels on campuses nationwide.
“A lot of campuses have historic elements and places that are under-utilized and these campuses attract visitors for academic and business purposes,” she said.
‘The guaranteed audience is an inherent draw for hoteliers. It doesn’t hurt that the: clientele at Yale, or at another major university hotel, might be some the most famous and best connected guests around. Talk about word of mouth.