New Hotel on Campus Opens
Doors to Visitors This Week
William Abikoff had been biding his time for several years, sometimes hopeful, occasionally nervous, as he lined up a major conference of mathematicians at the UConn campus. What he needed was a hotel, and the signs were in turn possible, then poor, then good.
This week, those signs will say "Welcome to UConn" and the new Nathan Hale Inn and Conference Center, as the math professor's hopes become reality, and more than 110 mathematicians from across the globe journey to Storrs for the 2001 Ahlfors-Bers Colloquium at the University of Connecticut.
"Nothing compares with having a hotel and the atmosphere of a meeting held on campus. It's such a contrast to the coldness of a downtown hotel," Abikoff said last week, as he scrambled to nail down the final details of the conference, one of the most important mathematics conferences of the year, and one with a 60-year
"This puts us in a different league," he said. "It makes us an attractive site, gives us the ability to invite colleagues to campus for major meetings. It becomes a recruiting tool."
Abikoff's colleagues will be among the first to cross the threshold of the Nathan Hale Inn and Conference
Center, which opens today. Located behind South Campus, the University's first on-campus hotel offers 100 rooms, a business center complete with Internet access, five conference rooms, a jacuzzi, swimming pool, and fitness center and, by the end of the month, a restaurant and lounge. More than 140 parking spaces surround the five-story building.
"The phones are constantly ringing," says David Kornfeld, general manager of the Inn. "We're getting calls from schools, colleges and departments who are bringing in speakers or planning conferences. I'm looking forward to being here."
Kathe Gable, director of public affairs for the School of Nursing, is happy that Kornfeld is here, too.
"We sponsor a lot of events, bring in a lot of speakers, and we do bookings all around the area - in hotels and bed-and-breakfasts," says Gable. "But it's different having people here. The University has so much to offer that people don't see if they're not housed on campus. There's networking between events, a chance to see and use our resources."
The Nathan Hale Inn will be the fourth hotel opening Kornfeld has been involved in for MeriStar Hotels and Resorts, the Washington, D.C.-based firm that will manage the property. Kornfeld last worked at a hotel in Princeton, N.J., and before that, at a conference center owned by Pennsylvania State University.
"A university hotel is different," Kornfeld says. "At most hotels you fill rooms with corporate clients, then look to educators and the social market to fill the rest of the vacancies. At a university, you flip that ratio, rely on educators first."
Kornfeld also will be relying on the athletic teams of various universities, including UConn. He says a number of teams already have inquired about staying at the Inn when they visit Storrs for games against the Huskies, and UConn student-athletes also will spend some time at the hotel when residence halls are closed during semester breaks.
Students will also play a role in operating the Inn, Kornfeld says. Of the hotels 60-70 employees, more than half will be UConn students.
Room rates will vary from $89 to $149 per night, with special group rates available for conferences, alumni, and other special groups. For information or registration, call (860) 427-7888.