Campus hotels full during move-in and RNC, but limited space exists elsewhere

Open hotel rooms around the metro area still exist, but for families who will move in their kids near the beginning of the school year, ideal prices or locations might not be found.

Alex Ebert

The AmericInn in Baldwin , Wis., was not Margie Gedeit’s first choice in lodging. Actually, it was her fifth.

She first tried the University Radisson Hotel, then the Days Hotel, but both told her that there was no room. She would have to find another place to stay while she moved her daughter into her Dinkytown house at the beginning of the coming school year.

Although hotel rooms for that time are elusive, they aren’t gone. University Housing and Residential Life posted a list of hotels near the University that have vacancies over Aug. 26 and 27 – days most people would stay over to help move their children into the University’s residence halls.

Currently, 13 of the 16 hotels listed on the Housing and Residential Life Web site still have rooms available, even with the Republican National Convention in St. Paul fast approaching.

However, the University Radisson Hotel and the Days Hotel are both completely booked, and rooms once available for movers are now taken up by the shakers. The RNC – with all of its entertainment, media and political machinery – will be taking up those rooms and many others in the Twin Cities area.

Gedeit, a Wisconsin native who stays at either the University Radisson or the Days Hotel when she visits Minneapolis, said that she couldn’t find any affordable rooms around campus.

Gedeit said she thought her only options were paying $350 for a room at the Fairfield Inn in Bloomington or $80 for the AmericInn in Baldwin, Wis. – 46 miles away from the University – and she chose the long drive.

Movers might also notice a price increase when they are renting rooms. Some hotels, including the Fairfield Inn in Roseville , will raise their prices dramatically from Aug. 27 to Sept. 6.

A room with one king-size bed at the Fairfield Inn costs $144.99 plus tax on Aug. 26. But from Aug. 27 to Sept. 6 that same room costs $309.99 plus tax, according to its Web site.

Some delegations were even put in hotels outside of the Twin Cities. The Puerto Rico delegation is staying in the Holiday Inn Courtyard in Arbor Lakes – 25 miles away from the Xcel Energy Center, the convention’s location.

Some parents decided to drive far out of the way, like Jill Ladwig . The southeast Wisconsin resident plans to stay with her sister in Rochester while she moves her daughter, Whitney, into the residence halls on Aug. 27.

Ladwig said that, since Housing and Residential Life hasn’t finalized student housing assignments, which are set to be finished by July 31, parents haven’t been able to formalize their plans for moving in their students.

How the University is handling the hotel crunch

The hotel crunch means the University has less leeway with its room assignments than it did in the past.

Two years ago, 100 University students took up temporary lodging in what is now the Days Hotel when Housing and Residential Life couldn’t find room for them in the residential halls, housing spokesman Mannix Clark said.

Complete with room service and a housecleaning once a week, Kristen Kangas , now a University alumna, said the University more than made up for the inconvenience. Kangas said that she and other stranded students were provided a shuttle van to give them lifts around campus.

This year, expanded housing in the sold-out Days Hotel isn’t an option, so Clark said the University will need to play it safe.

“Occasionally, in the housing business, we do something that airplanes do, where ‘I’m low, I can overbook and work myself out,’ ” Clark said.

This year, however, “We know we’re going to fit because we have no other option,” he said.

With no hotel vacancies around campus, Clark said Housing and Residential Life had to play it safe. Instead of pushing the “guaranteed housing application” past its May 1 deadline, the University closed the application process on time.