The Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center has opened for business, featuring the fully functioning hotel, Marriott’s Spring-Hill Suites, and state-of-the-art classrooms. Located just northwest of the Tivoli, the HLC is gearing up for a Sept. 14 opening celebration and a Sept. 27 community gala and fundraiser.
While the hotel already had its ribbon cutting ceremony and officially opened for business Aug. 3, the Sept. 14 opening celebrations will be geared toward the faculty and staff of the HLC and MSU Denver.
There will be open house tours on rotation where guests will tour the hotel’s property and guest rooms, view MSU Denver students’ artwork that fills the HLC and tour the classrooms, all while snacking on hors d’ouvres and sipping on wine presented by the hotel’s banquet chef. The first tour is scheduled at 2:30 p.m and the day will end at 6:00 p.m.
The hotel is operated by the professional hotel management firm Sage Hospitality, and provides hands-on training opportunities for students in MSU Denver’s Hospitality, Tourism and Events Department.
“What’s really nice is that the hotel and classrooms are connected, so it gives a great opportunity for students to see a full Marriot in action and how it works,” said Anne Frye, director of sales and marketing for the Marriott. “There’s only 10 [buildings like] these in the country. The point of the project is to provide a learning center for hospitality students to be the next generation of hospitality professionals not in just Denver but in the whole country.”
The community gala and fundraiser on Sept. 27 will be a public event, with tickets priced at $100 and $125 at the door. The event is to promote community involvement and interest in the HLC at MSU Denver and to learn about why it is important for the city and university. Gov. Hickenlooper and Mayor Hancock are among the invited attendees. All proceeds from the event will go to the HLC. No taxpayer dollars were used in funding the HLC or hotel — rather, it was a public-private partnership. HLC @ Metro is a non-profit corporation.
“Anyone that wants to be in hospitality I would definitely recommend working and being in the hospitality program,” said Bryce Walker, an MSU Denver senior. “Having the opportunity to open a hotel has been an amazing experience — to work with the university , work with Sage hospitality and the great Marriott Hotel, its been a amazing experience. We’re excited to have the internships come aboard.”
Walker has three classes left to graduate and unfortunately has not taken any classes in the HLC.
“It’s state-of-the-art classrooms — the wine analysis labs, the quality food labs, they’re just some really cool classes. It makes me want to start all over again,” Walker said.
According to Frye, business is good at the hotel and with a great location, design, and student involvement, they’ve already been booking with many popular corporations and businesses, including MSU Denver itself.
Cathy Lucas, associate to the president for marketing and communications, said it was worth the investment as well.
“Keep in mind no taxpayers’ dollars were used,” Lucas said. “The economy was starting to slip into recession when this project was first initiated. Both our foundation board and our trustees wanted to move forward with this project so we could provide teaching and learning for our faculty and staff. Also it’s a way to infuse additional dollars in the tourism industry.”