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New hotel dedicated

5:03 p.m., Nov. 22, 2004--Just moments after conferring an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on J. Willard Marriott Jr., the chairman and CEO of Marriott International Inc., Sunday, Nov. 21, University officials and guests walked the short distance from the Clayton Hall Conference Center to the new Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware to watch the ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially dedicated Marriott’s--and the University’s--new 126-room hotel.

The business-class hotel, adjacent to the recently renovated conference center off New London Road in Newark, will also serve as an education and research facility for UD’s Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) and will be managed by the Shaner Hotel Group of State College, Pa.

The hotel is a partnership between UD and the Shaner Hotel Group, which also manages the University’s Conference Services. Under the terms of the partnership, the University is the majority owner of the hotel.

See related article:

Newest UD classroom also a hotel

At a ceremony preceding the ribbon cutting, University officials, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, HRIM faculty and students, representatives of the Marriott chain and the Shaner group listened as UD President David P. Roselle said that Marriott was being awarded “the University’s highest honor.” He said the hotel dedication was to follow, but that the real objective was to celebrate the hospitality industry.

“The impact of the new hotel is significant,” he said. “The hotel will serve as a ‘working laboratory’ for our students and faculty, providing a hands-on experience in all aspects of today’s hotel industry.... The hotel also houses the Marriott Center for Hospitality and Tourism, funded in part by a generous grant from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.” Roselle said the center has state-of-the-art, high-tech classrooms featuring video-conferencing and wireless technology and an experimental guest room where new technologies and products will be tested by guests.

After asking for a round of applause for all who made the project possible, Roselle introduced Kathy Smith, a 1978 UD CHEP graduate and the senior vice president for talent management and organizational capability for Marriott International.

Smith, addressing HRIM students, said, “the new facility will provide tremendous opportunities for students.”

J. Willard Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International Inc.
She said the hospitality industry is a $545 billion direct travel expenditures business, accounts for 11 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 200 million jobs. “Travel and tourism are one of the top three employers in 28 U.S. states and Washington D.C.,” she said, noting that Marriott hires and promotes 1,500 associates each year, 450 of them from university campuses.

Smith urged students to learn more than just management skills. She said her company looks for leadership, customer service, communication and organizational skills, technical expertise and teamwork. “Take advantage of the opportunity to experience the industry in this new facility,” she said.

Roselle then introduced Lance Shaner, chairman and CEO of the Shaner Hotel Group, which owns and operates 23 hotels in 15 states.

“It’s an honor for us to be associated with your fine institution,” Shaner said. “Students in HRIM will be involved in all aspects of hotel operation. It offers students a hands-on opportunity to be there at start-up and for operation.” Students will experience “total immersion” in the hotel industry and be able to apply theory to reality, he said.

Howard Cosgrove, chairman of the UD Board of Trustees, conferred the honorary degree on Marriott. Cosgrove said the honor is given to those “whose contributions to the quality of our nation warrant exceptional recognition.”

Cosgrove called Marriott, “an unparalleled businessman,” saying, “You have led the transformation of the company from a family restaurant business to a $19 billion global lodging company with 2,700 properties in 70 countries.... As a hospitality industry icon...you have set the standard for the world’s providers of hospitality services... As a visionary leader, you have based your life’s work on the underlying ‘spirit to serve,’ continuing a business environment based on a philosophy begun by your parents, J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, more than 75 years ago.”

“I understand that today I am officially a Fightin’ Blue Hen,” Marriott said. “My parents would have been thrilled to have been here.”

Cutting the ribbon to open the new hotel are (from left) Bill Sullivan, managing director of the hotel; Tim Barnekov, dean of the College of Human Services, Education and Public Policy; UD President David Roselle; J. Willard Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International Inc.; Fred DeMicco, ARAMARK Chair and chairperson of the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management; Lance Shaner, chairman and CEO of the Shaner Hotel Group; Kathy Smith, senior vice president for talent management and organizational capability for Marriott International Inc.; David Hollowell, executive vice president and University treasurer; and Howard Cosgrove; chairman of the UD Board of Trustees.
Marriott said that UD’s campus is beautiful, the HRIM program one of the finest in the country and the new Courtyard a great contribution to the hospitality industry.

“It’s a great honor to open a new hotel here and an even greater honor to receive this honorary degree,” he said. Marriott received a standing ovation from the audience of more than 200.

After the awarding of the degree, participants walked to the hotel for the official ribbon-cutting and then entered the new facility to be greeted by two large ice sculptures, one of the UD logo in a bed of blue and yellow flowers, the other a giant M surrounded by red flowers. The symbol of hospitality, pineapples, also were prominently displayed. The UD Jazz Trio played soft jazz as students served hors d’oeuvres, and guests toured the rooms, especially an experimental technology room.

The high-tech hotel room will be offered to some guests at the hotel, and those who stay in the room will give students feedback on the technological innovations they use so that decisions can be made as to what features will become part of the next generation hotel room.

Currently installed in the experimental room are a jacuzzi, a desk massage chair, a miniature vending machine that makes freshly ground coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte and mocha, a plasma television that allows video conferencing with Clayton Hall, a Roomba Discovery SE Robotic Vacuum and a mini webcam to allow those inside the room to see who is in the hall. As new technologies are developed, they will be introduced to the public via the room.

Article by Barbara Garrison
Photos by Kathy Atkinson

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