Living resort style in hotels

For some students, vacation didn’t end once school started. When everyone else was settling into their dorms and apartments, they were moving into a hotel. Due to a shortage of on-campus housing, about 300 students had to be moved into the Holiday Inn across from the University of Miami and for the first time ever, to the Dadeland Marriott.

“We had a record number of students that signed up for housing last spring when they had a chance to continue staying at the dorms for the upcoming semester,” said Jon Baldessari, associate director of the Department of Residence Halls. “That, combined with a strong freshman class, led to an overflow.”

For the past three years, the Department of Residence Halls has dealt with this overflow by placing students at the Holiday Inn. Each student is put on a waiting list and when a student living on campus cancels registration, transfers schools, or has to leave the university, someone living at the hotel moves onto campus in his place.

In the few weeks since classes started, the number of students staying at these hotels has dropped to 275, with an emphasis on moving out those at the Dadeland Marriott first.

However, living in a hotel while going to college isn’t quite the same as living on campus. Students at the Holiday Inn take the Hurry ‘Cane to class, others walk across U.S.1, and those at the Marriott take the Metrorail for their longer commute. They also have access to the hotel pools, fitness centers, maid service, and room service.

“You have a lot more freedom living here,” said Tim Divis, a junior and exchange student from England. “[At the Holiday Inn] you can bring anyone to your dorm at any hour, without having to sign them in after 10 p.m. You get a balcony if you’re lucky, and the maids make the bed.”

Students living at the hotels pay the same housing fee as those living on campus in a double occupancy room, and the Department of Residence provides them with monthly passes for the Metrorail. Since freshmen are required to live on campus their first year, nearly all of the students staying at the hotels are transfer and international students.

“In my other college, the dorm rooms were really small – now I’m living in a resort,” said Alex Brown-Gitelman, sophomore, who is living at the Dadeland Marriott. “I didn’t have to bring bed sheets or a TV, the beds are bigger, and we have our own showers.”

Not all students feel as lucky. The commute can be inconvenient, and the Metrorail only runs until midnight, after which they have to find alternate forms of transportation.

“I’ve been [at the Marriott] two weeks but now I’m moving into Hecht. It’s going to be easier to go to class and get involved,” Cristine Mantis, sophomore, said.

The Department of Residence said that while some students living at Holiday Inn may be there all semester, all will be on campus by the spring. In the meantime, they try to simulate the on-campus experience with R.A. programs. On any given day, students are visiting each others’ rooms, taking the elevator in their towels to the pool, and socializing in the hallways.

“It’s like the campus is brought here,” Lara Berman, junior, said. “People make this their home and college.”

Natalia Maldonado can be contacted at n.maldonado@umiami.edu.