Steven and I went to my first ever Auburn game over the weekend and we had a blast!!! Auburn won which made the day even better for me! We spent the weekend in Auburn and stayed at this little hotel called the University Inn. It is right in the heart of downtown Auburn and near everything.
I was skeptical at first as the hotel has some pretty awful reviews, but ultimately I decided that even if it was absolutely terrible it was just a place to sleep and didn’t really matter. I wasn’t surprised by the caliber of the rooms or the parking lot, but what I was amazed by was the fact that the owners are sitting on a gold mine and not doing anything to fix it up. That being said, I am taking this post to a place where I have never gone before….hotel consulting. (insert dramatic music here)
The first thing you have to understand about this location is a 14 minute walk (approximately 1 mile) from Jordan Hare Stadium, home of the Auburn Tigers.
There is only one other hotel closet than the University Inn. The other hotel is a 3 star hotel. They have tons of room and have an amazing location. If the University Inn were a restaurant, Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives would do a feature on it.
Depending on the website you visit the hotel has between 41 – 46 rooms. There are several issues, but I think the greater majority of the challenges at this hotel are cosmetic. Yes, there are some construction issues as well, but I’ll get to that.
The number one thing that should be addressed is the electrical needs upgraded. In our room there were a total of 3 outlets. Each of the outlets in the main room were over loaded and one actually had an extension cord hooking the mini fridge, microwave, TV, and a lamp all to out outlet. The second outlet in the main room had two lamps plugged in. The other outlet was in the bathroom sink/closet area. We also found that the overhead light in the bathroom sink/closet area was a “recent” addition. They had installed a long florescent type light over the sink, however there was once upon a time a different kind of light there and the hole for the wires was still visible. To be able to plug in our phone chargers we had to unplug lamps.
The stairs heading up to our room gave me a sense of vertigo. There were uneven and shook in some places. The building itself needs painted and some upgrades to the wiring (there were cables and wires all clearly visible in the breezeway).
The parking lot could use some could also use some work (repaved, striped, reconfigured).
The tubs and showers need replaced and retiled. The tub in our bathroom looked like it had been painted. It had a teeny tiny shower head that barely put out any water. There were 3 different kinds of tiles on the walls. The floors in the bathroom and sink areas are clearly stick down “wood look” planks. There were very cheap and uneven to walk on. The sink/vanity itself needs updating and was stained. The toilet was a commercial style toilet that you would expect to see restaurant, not what you would expect to see in a hotel.
The floor in the main room was uneven, but the carpet appeared to be relatively new.
That covers the greatest majority of the “construction” things. Depending on the electrical this should cost approximately $46,000. I estimated high on quite a bit, but still $1,000/room to bring it up to standard isn’t bad. I also got estimates from my friends and contacts in the business. The Inn would have to be able to use my contacts to get some of these rates.
After that it’s all the “fluff”, the cosmetic/decor stuff (and the amenities).
In our room there was a table that we used as a night stand on one side of the bed, nothing on the other side. There was a desk, double dresser, two side chairs, and the mini fridge “holder”. The TV sat on top of the double dresser. There were two side lamps and one touchier type lamp. There were 2 generic “flowery/pastel” pieces of art.
As for upgrades, I don’t think the bed was that bad, the mattress slept fine and the headboard was ok. The linens (both on the bed and the bath linens) desperately need upgraded. There should be a side table for both sides of the bed in a King room and one in the middle for a double room. The dresser was cheap and the laminate was pealing. None of the furniture matched.
I think the artwork should be changed out to something that would depict the fact that this is an Auburn hotel. The hotel is less than a block away from Toomer’s Corner. If the owner took pictures around town and framed them, this would be perfect art for the rooms. As for the linens, I would monopolize on the burnt orange and navy of the Auburn colors. Navy bedspreads with burnt orange throw pillows. Upgrade the sheets and the towels. As for the rest of the furnishings in the room I would choose one style and go with it.
The overall decor upgrades should cost approximately another $65,000. Again I estimated high. And again, I used my friends and contacts in the design and decor industry. I also didn’t include the price of a coffee maker per room, which they could desperately use.
Now I know what you’re saying. “Carol, that’s $111,000 just in upgrades and repairs. How could they ever recoup that cost?”
The current base rate for a room on a football weekend is $220. They have a 2 night minimum stay requirement which means that each football weekend each room brings in approximately $440. This season alone, Auburn has 7 home games. If they sold out the hotel (which it usually is) for each of those games, that brings in a total of $141,680.
There are hotels in the area that are charging $300 – $400 a night with a 2 night minimum stay. If University Inn did some of the upgrades I’ve mentioned they could continue to charge the regular $220. But if they did all the upgrades I’ve listed, installed coffee makers in each room, and had a better breakfast offering (instead of day old honey buns and bottom of the pot coffee) the Inn could charge at least $300 if not more.
Yes, I know it’s a lot of up front cost, but ultimately the return would be amazing and it would pay for itself in one football season.