After students left campus for winter break last semester, the UMW Foundation announced continuing plans to build a $14 million-plus select-service Eagle Village Hotel across Route 1 between the Eagle Village Executive Offices and Giant supermarket.
The foundation is partnering with Cardinal Bank to finance the project, according to a university press release from July 2011.
The 66,500-square-foot hotel will be complete with 93 studio rooms or suites, conference rooms for the public and a 24-hour food and beverage service for guests.
Also included will be an indoor pool, a fitness center and a possible day spa.
Construction will begin this spring and is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2013.
Jeff Rountree, CEO of the UMW Foundation, has high hopes for the hotel and stresses the benefit it will bring for students.
“The profit or financial benefits gained from any investment or business owned and operated by the private UMW Foundation (such as a hotel) ultimately go right back to the University to fund student scholarships, programs, etc.,” said Rountree.
Rountree also said that the hotel will provide a convenient place for parents of students to stay, catering to the “nearly 1,000 out-of-state students who attend UMW.”
As for new student recruitment, Rountree calls the hotel “the front door, the first impression” for prospective students and parents visiting for tours.
Contrary to students concern about an increase in tuition, Rountree assures, “no student fees, state funds, or University funds are used for projects at Eagle Village, including this hotel.”
Anna Billingsley, associate VP of university relations and communications, is in favor of the hotel as well, calling the UMW Foundation a “private giving arm of the university that functions as a support for the university.”
Billingsley points out that there is no hotel within walking distance of UMW, except the downtown Marriott, which fills quickly.
She says the convenience of the Eagle Village hotel would benefit speakers and guests to the campus.
“We always have to put them up somewhere that’s further than walking distance from campus,” she noted.
Students thus far have a positive opinion about the hotel as well.
Sophomore Gibran Parvez said, “As long as tuition money doesn’t go to this, it sounds like a fine way of gentrifying the Eagle Village area.”
Conan Smeeth, a sophomore and current resident of Eagle Landing, said, “I’ve had my mom drive me down out of state before and I can sympathize with spending most of your day on the road.”
Another benefit that Rountree mentioned would be 50 new jobs for the region, many of which would be open to students.
A new company formed by the UMW Foundation, Eagle Hospitality LLC, will own and manage the hotel. They are still in the process of selecting a hotel franchise and management company.