Hotel students ready for life without maid service

by Beacon Staff • April 29, 2009

,Students living in the Little Building, with its triple rooms, or the Piano Row dormitory, where students have to bring their own television sets, may envy the life of the Emerson students who have lived in the Courtyard Marriott and Doubletree Hotels over the past two years. Maid service, queen-sized beds and free cookie deliveries sound awfully appealing to dorm residents who have to go all the way downstairs for desserts and have to clean their own rooms.

But many hotel residents say the disadvantages outweigh these perks.

"It was nice having maid service every week, but I kind of felt separated from campus," said freshman and Courtyard resident Steve Wachter. "It was hard finding friends. If I had to do it all over again, I'd live in a dorm."

The 2008-2009 hotel residents may be the last Emerson students to face this problem; according to Associate Dean of Housing David Haden, Emerson has no plans to host students in either the Doubletree or the Courtyard hotels in September as the new Colonial dorm opens next year.

The difficulty of living in one of the hotels may not be apparent to the casual observer at first; while the Courtyard and especially the Doubletree take a little longer to walk to from campus than Piano Row or the Little Building. The Courtyard is located about a block past the Cutler Majestic Theatre and the Doubletree can be found some distance beyond that, the lobbies of both hotels are quiet, with floors covered in carpet as well as fish tanks and water fountains.

In the Courtyard hotel, only guests (or Emerson residents) are allowed on floors six through 15, where the rooms are located, a rule that's enforced by the elevators, which can only access those floors if a room key is inserted into a slot inside. Within the Courtyard, the Emerson students live only on the seventh floor. The plush carpeted hallways and expensive-looking light fixtures make it look like just another part of the hotel, except for the name labels on the wooden doors. Students living in the Doubletree are scattered throughout the building.

Several students agree with Wachter, saying despite the luxury of their living arrangements, the isolation of the hotel has been hard during their freshman year.

"I feel like I don't know as many people at Emerson because the hotel is disconnected," said Dolly Constantine, a Courtyard resident and writing, literature and publishing major.

The novelties of floor-wide bathrooms and doing laundry are an experience some hotel residents were hoping to share in, but the isolation of the hotel is a feature that other students enjoyed over the year. The halls within both hotels, for example, are usually silent, with no equivalent of the dormitories' common rooms. Freshman Kat Bosworth said she had attended boarding school for two years before coming to Emerson and was ready for a change in living style.

"It's quieter, it's not the dorm life," said the visual and media arts major of life at the Courtyard. "You can relax, get away and do your homework."

However, even students who feel cut off from the school agree that the hotel rooms themselves are nothing to complain about. Rooms feature two queen-size beds, with a private bathroom to the left of the doorway, only shared in the event of two students living together. The accommodations also include free cable television and high-speed Internet access, though one of the Resident Assistants for the Courtyard hotel, Caitlin Green, said the Internet access has been a problem.

"It's gone out, and then we'll have to call [Information Technology] to get it back," said the junior theater studies major. "It's happened three times."

Internet access was also a problem for hotel residents last year, according to a previous iBeacon/i article.

Most students, however, have had no problems with the rest of the hotel perks, and have appreciated the luxuries that aren't offered in the dorms.

"You have the big beds and the maids," said Colleen Girardin, a freshman marketing major. "I feel like I'm on vacation living in the hotel."

And many students say living within a contained area such as the hotel have brought the residents closer together.

"We lucked out this year because there's really a community on the floor," said Bosworth. "My friends are here."

But there are additional disadvantages to living in a fully functioning hotel with paying guests, including observing 24-hour quiet hours, not being allowed to have microwaves or holiday lights, and not hanging dry erase boards in the Doubletree and not being allowed to hang posters or anything else on the walls or have bikes within the building at the Courtyard and the Doubletree. Wachter said the restrictions are among his least favorite things about living at the Courtyard.

"The [Resident Director] cracks down on us pretty hard for any violation," said the marketing communication major.

As the residents prepare to move out of the hotels, they'll have to adjust themselves back to normal life without cookie deliveries and free cable. Constantine said the change will definitely be hard to get used to at first.

"My parents don't make my bed every week," she said.