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Hotels fill quickly for May 2005 graduation

By Jennifer Amsler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 19, 2004
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Students graduating in May will have one more thing to worry about besides the usual commotion of commencement - they will have to figure out where their out-of-town relatives will stay as hotels begin to fill for that weekend.

Some popular upscale hotels in the Tucson area are already booked solid for graduation weekend, May 13-15, 2005, and others are close to selling out. In addition, hotel rates are higher on the weekend because of the increased demand.

Patty Doar, president of Arizona Inn, said the hotel started taking reservations for graduation weekend May 14, 2004, exactly one year in advance. Doar said the 86 rooms booked almost immediately and the hotel has a waiting list of 50.

"Parents of students find us when their kids first come to Tucson. They want to stay with us when they graduate," Doar said.

Arizona Inn, 2200 E. Elm St., is only a mile from campus and its standard rooms start at $219 a night for graduation weekend.

Kevin Tracy, director of revenue management for Marriott University Park, 880 E. Second St., said only about 30 rooms are available for May graduation weekend.

"It's our location that sells us. It's all about the location," Tracy said.

Tracy said Marriott University Park is a hot-spot hotel for parents of students because of the proximity to campus events and quality service.

The on-campus hotel fills up every year for big campus events such as graduation, Tracy said. He expects rooms to be completely booked in February.

"There is always a flurry of reservations after degree checks," he said.

In order to reserve a room for May's

graduation, a person must pay for the room in advance and commit to at least two nights, Tracy said.

Arizona Inn and Marriott University Park are both located near campus, but even some hotels miles away are seeing a rush from parents to reserve rooms months in advance.

The Westin La Paloma, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive, only has a few rooms left for May 13 and is sold out for the rest of the weekend, said Sally Mildren, media relations for the resort.

Angela Colvin, administrative manager at Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, said the resort is less than half full for May graduation weekend but will fill up completely within the next few months even though it is about 10 miles away from campus.

Colvin said out-of-town relatives find the Hacienda Del Sol, 5601 N. Hacienda Del Sol Road, appealing because it is a 12-minute drive to UA campus, and is on a spacious and historic property with views of Tucson's city lights at night.

"You really get the feel of Tucson here. The rooms are spread out; it's not like you're coming into a boxed hotel," she said.

Rooms at Hacienda Del Sol are $165 to $500 a night during graduation weekend, Colvin said. She suggested students' relatives make a reservation as soon as possible, seeing as the hotel sells out each year for May graduation weekend around February.

Dan Pack, a media arts senior, said he checked into making hotel reservations for a girlfriend's family for May 2003 graduation months in advance. He was shocked to find minimal availability around Tucson.

"In a big city like Tucson, it was extremely surprising," he said.

Pack said hotels that did have openings had rates that were "something absurd" and it is unfortunate they don't offer a discount graduation rate.

"You have to be resourceful and willing to spend some time searching for the best rates available," he said.

Butterfly Rose, a media arts senior, said she had no idea hotels filled up so quickly.

Rose said although her family lives in Phoenix and could easily drive home after graduation, she still thinks not enough students know they should reserve a hotel months in advance.

She suggested counselors who send out e-mails reminding students to get degree checks should also remind students to start thinking about reserving a hotel room for out-of-town relatives.

Chris Knapp, a criminal justice junior, said he is glad he does not have to worry about hotel reservations because he went to high school in Tucson.

"Most of my family is here. If people needed a hotel, I think I could find some hotel that would be available," he said.

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