“New York to Implement Ban on Small Plastic Toiletry Bottles in Hotels from 2025, Encourages Use of Refillable Dispensers to Combat Single-Use Plastic Pollution”

"New York to Implement Ban on Small Plastic Toiletry Bottles in Hotels from 2025, Encourages Use of Refillable Dispensers to Combat Single-Use Plastic Pollution"

Hotels in New York will no longer be able to provide small bottles of hospitality care products like shampoo at the start of 2025.

That includes small bottles of lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

This comes after the Environmental Protective Fund that was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul in 2021 to reduce single-use plastic pollution.

Travelers like Leeshaun Dennery aren’t too thrilled about the news.

It’s kind of unacceptable, you would expect the bare minimum from hotels. Hotels should be providing the basic essentials so; it is kind of shocking.

Hotels and motels with 50 or more rooms will no longer be able to provide any small plastic bottles containing these hospitality care products.

As of 2022, on average the daily rate of a hotel room in the us is nearly 150 dollars. Adding to the expense and buying brand new hospitality care products could be an extra financial burden for some or just simply frustrating going out to buy new products.

“It’s an inconvenience and you would expect to just be able to show up to a hotel — after you pay so much money, you would expect to have something as simple as soap. It’s not that hard,” said Dennery.

The state is proposing alternatives to single-use containers like using refillable dispensers.

If a hotel violates the law, it will receive a notice for their first violation

If they fail to correct the violation in 30 days, they will be fined 250 dollars and 500 dollars for any violation in the same year.

Adblock test (Why?)

“Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs’ Mother Hospitalized Due to Stress-Related Factors – NBC New York”

"Sean 'Diddy' Combs' Mother Hospitalized Due to Stress-Related Factors - NBC New York"

Sean “Diddy” Combs’ mother has been hospitalized. A source close familiar with the situation tells NBC News that the rapper and music mogul is with his mom, Janice Combs, at the hospital. “She’s still at the hospital. She hasn’t been discharged yet. They are keeping her for observation,” the source says, adding that Janice Combs,…

“Eco-Friendly or Brand Unfriendly? NY Hotels Grapple with Toiletry Dilemma in the Hospitality Industry”

"Eco-Friendly or Brand Unfriendly? NY Hotels Grapple with Toiletry Dilemma in the Hospitality Industry"

In the highly competitive world of hospitality, every detail counts. Now, hotels across New York State are about to lose a powerful branding tool and, at least for some guests, a desirable amenity. Come January 1, 2025, those tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner that have long been a staple of hotel bathrooms will be banned in establishments with 50 or more rooms. While well-intentioned, this environmental measure may have unintended consequences for both hotels and their guests.

Miniature Memories: The Hidden Power of Hotel Toiletries

For many travelers, those little bottles or tubes are more than just a convenience; they are a tangible piece of the hotel experience that guests can take home. These mementos can serve as powerful brand ambassadors long after checkout. Some may get stashed in a closet, never to see daylight again. But others will sit on bathroom counters and lurk in travel bags, ready to trigger fond memories of a stay. With each use, they remind the customer of the hotel’s brand and, just maybe, influence future booking decisions.

Balancing Act: Eco-Friendly Policies vs. Guest Satisfaction

John Fitzpatrick, owner of two upscale Midtown Manhattan hotels, understands the delicate balance between environmental responsibility and guest satisfaction. Speaking to the New York Times, he explained, “In this day and age, we have to watch our carbon footprint.” But he’s also aware of the challenges this ban presents to maintaining the luxury experience his guests expect.

The Luxury Dilemma: Wall-Mounted Dispensers in High-End Hotels

The shift to larger, mounted bottles,while eco-friendly, risks diluting the personalized touch that high-end hotels strive to deliver. There’s a big difference between a guest pocketing a petite bottle of premium shampoo and eyeing a wall-mounted dispenser with suspicion. The latter, while practical, lacks the allure and perceived hygiene of individually packaged products.

Specific concerns have been raised about safety and other aspects of the dispenser bottles. Some may not be completely tamper-proof. Room attendants may forget to fill empty bottles (it’s happened to me). A hotel operator could choose to refill a dispenser labeled with a premium brand with something cheaper.

Dispensers Are Old News at Many Brands

Of course, many hotels switched to dispensers long before any ban was imminent. Marriott began the process as far back as 2019. That was the year that California passed a law that would ban little bottles by 2023. Even Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton hotels made the change, although for that and other luxury brands in the family the dispensers are “untethered.”

By and large, guests seem to accept the change. There have been a few hiccups, though. One dispenser design rolled out by Marriott made it nearly impossible to distinguish which was shower gel, shampoo, or conditioner (photo), provoking ridicule on social media.

function loadConnatixScript(document) {
if (!window.cnxel) {
window.cnxel = {};
window.cnxel.cmd = [];
var iframe = document.createElement(‘iframe’);
iframe.style.display = ‘none’;
iframe.onload = function() {
var iframeDoc = iframe.contentWindow.document;
var script = iframeDoc.createElement(‘script’);
script.src = ‘//cd.elements.video/player.js’ + ‘?cid=’ + ’62cec241-7d09-4462-afc2-f72f8d8ef40a’;
script.setAttribute(‘defer’, ‘1’);
script.setAttribute(‘type’, ‘text/javascript’);
iframeDoc.body.appendChild(script);
};
document.head.appendChild(iframe);

const preloadResourcesEndpoint = ‘https://cds.elements.video/a/preload-resources-ovp.json’;
fetch(preloadResourcesEndpoint, { priority: ‘low’ })
.then(response => {
if (!response.ok) {
throw new Error(‘Network response was not ok’, preloadResourcesEndpoint);
}
return response.json();
})
.then(data => {
const cssUrl = data.css;
const cssUrlLink = document.createElement(‘link’);
cssUrlLink.rel = ‘stylesheet’;
cssUrlLink.href = cssUrl;
cssUrlLink.as = ‘style’;
cssUrlLink.media = ‘print’;
cssUrlLink.onload = function() {
this.media = ‘all’;
};
document.head.appendChild(cssUrlLink);

const hls = data.hls;
const hlsScript = document.createElement(‘script’);
hlsScript.src = hls;
hlsScript.setAttribute(‘defer’, ‘1’);
hlsScript.setAttribute(‘type’, ‘text/javascript’);
document.head.appendChild(hlsScript);
}).catch(error => {
console.error(‘There was a problem with the fetch operation:’, error);
});
}
}
loadConnatixScript(document);

(function() {
function createUniqueId() {
return ‘xxxxxxxx-xxxx-4xxx-yxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx’.replace(/[xy]/g, function(c) {
var r = Math.random() * 16 | 0,
v = c == ‘x’ ? r : (r & 0x3 | 0x8);
return v.toString(16);
});
}
const randId = createUniqueId();
document.getElementsByClassName(‘fbs-cnx’)[0].setAttribute(‘id’, randId);
document.getElementById(randId).removeAttribute(‘class’);
(new Image()).src = ‘https://capi.elements.video/tr/si?token=’ + ’44f947fb-a5ce-41f1-a4fc-78dcf31c262a’ + ‘&cid=’ + ’62cec241-7d09-4462-afc2-f72f8d8ef40a’;
cnxel.cmd.push(function () {
cnxel({
playerId: ’44f947fb-a5ce-41f1-a4fc-78dcf31c262a’,
playlistId: ‘3e5e03f9-7925-4400-8f37-b4daede06b7f’,
}).render(randId);
});
})();

This particular gaffe confirms my opinion that most of the people who design hotel rooms and choose amenities don’t actually spend many nights in hotels every year.

Brand Identity Impact

The toiletry dilemma primarily affects mainly luxury brands and hotels that offer a unique experience. Few guests look for a way to remember their stay at a cookie-cutter chain hotel.

On the other hand, people do seem to eager to collect mementos that specifically remind them of the brand and/or their experience. Fitzpatrick had a problem with guests stealing towels until he switched from branded to plain ones. Clearly, the larcenous guests were seeking not a functional towel but a specific souvenir.

Luxury hotels understand these details. Many establishments partner with luxury brands or create custom-scented products to enhance their brand identity. These collaborations often extend beyond the hotel stay, with guests seeking out these products for home use – a marketing opportunity that wall-mounted dispensers simply can’t replicate.

After a long-ago stay at the Las Vegas Wynn, for example, I carried off a few small bottles of their Desert Bambu products. Even after the original contents were used up and that particular brand was phased out, I continued to refill the sturdy little bottles and use them daily. Each use was a tiny reminder of the brand and my pleasant experience.

The Scent of Memory: Neuromarketing and Hotel Amenities

From a neuromarketing perspective, the loss of these take-home items eliminates one aspect of a hotel’s ability to create a lasting emotional connection with guests. Scent can trigger powerful emotions – Proust’s fictional madeleine that triggered a flood of memories has its roots in science.

By removing this sensory touchpoint, hotels make it a little harder to stand out in guests’ minds after they’ve returned home.

The Future of Hotel Amenities

Regulations aside, hotels are clearly in the process of eliminating little plastic bottles. From an environmental and cost standpoint, that clearly makes sense.

Fitzpatrick and his team are exploring alternatives, including single-use foil packets. However, these solutions lack the premium feel of bottles and may prove frustrating for guests to use. At the moment, there’s no clear option that balances environmental concerns with the need to maintain a luxurious, memorable guest experience.

For shampoos and other liquids, branded dispensers will likely be the main solution. For luxury properties, the products should be premium and, ideally, unique to the brand. To assuage guest concerns, they should be entirely tamper-proof, non-refillable, and transparent enough so that room attendants never leave a guest with an empty dispenser. From a practical standpoint, the dispensers should be clearly labeled and the spigots should function smoothly.

Beyond The Stay

How can hotels remind guests of their experience after they return home? Some customers might choose to buy a shampoo or gel they enjoyed at the property if offered. Or, the hotel could gift each departing guest with an amenity of their choice. Shipping the gift to the guest’s home would add cost but would be convenient for those who travel light. And, a gift arriving several days after the conclusion of a trip would be a memorable reminder of the brand and the experience.

Hotels can use these and other creative ways to leave a lasting impression on their guests – even without the help of those little plastic bottles.

Adblock test (Why?)

“Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Divorce: JLo’s New Breakup Song Hits the Grid – Glamour”

"Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Divorce: JLo's New Breakup Song Hits the Grid - Glamour"

Can these two just, like, do a Notes App post already? I have only a limited time on Earth and somehow I’ve spent half of it deciphering clues about Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s marriage. The latest is a throwback from J.Lo, who celebrated her song “Cambia el Paso” turning three years old with an…

Report: NYC Hotels Housing Migrants Receive Taxpayer-Funded Windfall for Hotel Rooms and Migrant Shelters

Report: NYC Hotels Housing Migrants Receive Taxpayer-Funded Windfall for Hotel Rooms and Migrant Shelters

Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive.

Please enter a valid email address.

Having trouble? Click here.

New York City hotels housing migrants have brought in over a billion dollars in taxpayer funds since converting their buildings into migrant shelters.

New York City is spending an average of $156 per room per night on hotel rooms that house migrants, with some rooms costing the city over $300 per night, according to a report from the New York Post.

The city has spent about $4.88 billion on the migrant crisis over the last few years, the report notes, $1.98 billion of which has gone toward housing. While some of the nearly $2 billion that has been spent on housing has gone to city shelters, roughly 80% of the shelters being used by the city are motels or inns, internal documents obtained by the New York Post revealed.

OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AREN’T UNDER FEDERAL SUPERVISION: ANALYSIS 

Migrants in NYC

Asylum seekers line up in front of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families, in New York City. (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

According to the report, the city has reached contracts in the millions with multiple New York City hotels, including a $5.13 million-a-month deal with the Row NYC hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, the Crowne Plaza JFK in South Jamaica, Queens, has landed a $2 million per month deal for use of its 335 rooms.

The trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by business owners in the area of the hotels, who have complained that the buildings that were once filled with customers who flooded the local area with business have now been filled with migrants.

“Our taxes are being used to pay for the migrants, and where are we supposed to make revenue?” William Shandler, a manager at Iron Bar located across from the Row hotel, told the New York Post. “How as a business could we function?” 

Crime scene tape on the street in New York City

Crime scene tape surrounds the area of a stabbing in front of the Roosevelt Hotel, which serves as a migrant shelter, in New York City.  (Peter Gerber)

BLUE STATE DEPLOYS OFFICIALS TO THE BORDER WITH SURPRISING WARNING FOR MIGRANTS

Nevertheless, the city has continued to ink contracts with properties to host the influx of migrants. In September, the city extended its contract with the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC) for three years and $1.3 billion. In January, New York City signed a $76.69 million deal with HANYC to provide a shelter of “last resort” to migrants at 15 hotels in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx through July.

Those deals have been crushing taxpayers, a local watchdog said.

“The migrant crisis is a gash on state and local finances, and housing is where taxpayers are bleeding most,” Ken Girardin, research director at the watchdog Empire Center for Public Policy, told the New York Post.

eric adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie, File)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The trend has also been called out by Republican Councilwoman Joann Ariola, who argued that the hotels were built for tourism and “not for sheltering the masses of people pouring over our borders every day.”

“These locations were meant to boost the economy of this city, but instead they’ve become a net drain and are costing us enormously,” Ariola said.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

Adblock test (Why?)

Pittsburgh Businesses and Hotels Gear Up for Economic Boost During Anthrocon, a Convention for Animal Costume Enthusiasts

Pittsburgh Businesses and Hotels Gear Up for Economic Boost During Anthrocon, a Convention for Animal Costume Enthusiasts

Visitors for Anthrocon 2024 lined up outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center seven hours before registration opened Thursday.More than 17,000 are expected for the four-day event, a gathering of free-spirited people immersed in the creativity of animal costumes.”There are literally hundreds of furry conventions across the world. This is the only one that has this kind of drive, this heart, this enthusiasm,” Anthrocon CEO Samuel Conway said, while praising Pittsburgh. “That comes from the city around us.”Conway says the event started as a small intimate party in a dormitory room at a technical institute in Albany, New York, in 1996.This year’s convention is expected to be the largest Anthrocon yet. VisitPittsburgh expects more than $70 million in spending from July 4-7.”I think it’s just an environment where you get to be yourself, and I think that’s very important in the world right now,” visitor Bradley Davis said. “There aren’t a lot of spaces, especially where I’m from, where I get to feel comfortable.””I love the creativity with Anthrocon. It’s fantastic, just the amount of art and imagination you see from everybody here,” visitor Kristen Sabin said.Downtown and surrounding area businesses are gearing up.”We enjoy when they come to town. We get to have a little bit of fun. We get to push the boundary on what the typical Downtown places are doing,” said Chris Norton, general manager of Pizza Parma.Pizza Parma turns into Furryland for the weekend, decking their pizzeria out with furry-friendly signs and accommodations. The co-owners say they have been doing this for the past 19 years. Every year, they incorporate new ways to draw in the Anthrocon crowd.”One of our main specials is a dog bowl special. They get a dog bowl that comes with food, whatever they want, whether it’s a sub, a wrap, or pizza,” Norton said.And they aren’t the only ones who are bracing for the huge economic impact. “We are sold out this year. I think it’s five days straight,” said Domenica DeSantis, director of services at the Westin hotel. “We are, as our general manager likes to refer to us as, ground zero for Anthrocon since we are connected to the convention center.”The Westin said when rooms were released, the hotel was sold out in two minutes. And it’s pretty much the same for all the hotels in and around the city. It’s a major factor of the economic drive in Pittsburgh.”But a significant economic driver for our city. And we anticipate this year to be the biggest year yet. In fact, our housing block, which opened with 10,000 hotel rooms, sold out within 12 minutes,” VisitPittsburgh chief sales officer Andrew Ortale said.And, of course, those participating in Anthrocon this year are ready for the weekend.”I’ve wanted to come to this convention since I was a little kid back in 2014. I am vibrating even though I have had very little sleep because getting ready. I’m not tired even though I really should be. I am excited. Looking forward to this,” said both Pixal and Spade Taylor, who were from Michigan.

Visitors for Anthrocon 2024 lined up outside the David L. Lawrence Convention Center seven hours before registration opened Thursday.

More than 17,000 are expected for the four-day event, a gathering of free-spirited people immersed in the creativity of animal costumes.

“There are literally hundreds of furry conventions across the world. This is the only one that has this kind of drive, this heart, this enthusiasm,” Anthrocon CEO Samuel Conway said, while praising Pittsburgh. “That comes from the city around us.”

Conway says the event started as a small intimate party in a dormitory room at a technical institute in Albany, New York, in 1996.

This year’s convention is expected to be the largest Anthrocon yet. VisitPittsburgh expects more than $70 million in spending from July 4-7.

“I think it’s just an environment where you get to be yourself, and I think that’s very important in the world right now,” visitor Bradley Davis said. “There aren’t a lot of spaces, especially where I’m from, where I get to feel comfortable.”

“I love the creativity with Anthrocon. It’s fantastic, just the amount of art and imagination you see from everybody here,” visitor Kristen Sabin said.

Downtown and surrounding area businesses are gearing up.

“We enjoy when they come to town. We get to have a little bit of fun. We get to push the boundary on what the typical Downtown places are doing,” said Chris Norton, general manager of Pizza Parma.

Pizza Parma turns into Furryland for the weekend, decking their pizzeria out with furry-friendly signs and accommodations. The co-owners say they have been doing this for the past 19 years. Every year, they incorporate new ways to draw in the Anthrocon crowd.

“One of our main specials is a dog bowl special. They get a dog bowl that comes with food, whatever they want, whether it’s a sub, a wrap, or pizza,” Norton said.

And they aren’t the only ones who are bracing for the huge economic impact.

“We are sold out this year. I think it’s five days straight,” said Domenica DeSantis, director of services at the Westin hotel. “We are, as our general manager likes to refer to us as, ground zero for Anthrocon since we are connected to the convention center.”

The Westin said when rooms were released, the hotel was sold out in two minutes. And it’s pretty much the same for all the hotels in and around the city. It’s a major factor of the economic drive in Pittsburgh.

“But a significant economic driver for our city. And we anticipate this year to be the biggest year yet. In fact, our housing block, which opened with 10,000 hotel rooms, sold out within 12 minutes,” VisitPittsburgh chief sales officer Andrew Ortale said.

And, of course, those participating in Anthrocon this year are ready for the weekend.

“I’ve wanted to come to this convention since I was a little kid back in 2014. I am vibrating even though I have had very little sleep because getting ready. I’m not tired even though I really should be. I am excited. Looking forward to this,” said both Pixal and Spade Taylor, who were from Michigan.

Adblock test (Why?)

How Ben Weprin’s Vision for Graduate Hotels Transformed University Town Hospitality with University-Themed Hotels and Local Lore

How Ben Weprin's Vision for Graduate Hotels Transformed University Town Hospitality with University-Themed Hotels and Local Lore

At a time when most hotel chains blur into indistinguishable beige sameness, Graduate Hotels offers a much-needed reprieve—a vibrant, living scrapbook of local lore and university charm slowly but surely leaving its mark on the hospitality industry.

Although Graduate Hotels have been around for a decade, there are only 34 properties globally, from the Ivy League charm of Princeton to the academic epicenters of Cambridge and Oxford in the UK. That in and of itself is a testament to the brand’s commitment to authenticity: a slow, deliberate expansion that values community engagement. As if to say, it’s not just about where you stay, but how you feel while you’re there—and hopefully long after you’ve left.

The brainchild of Ben Weprin, founder of AJ Capital Partners, Graduate Hotels began as a bold experiment in transforming university towns’ often dreary accommodations. Weprin’s eureka moment happened in 2010 when he saw potential in the then-bland hotel landscape of these academic hubs. His first venture, renovating Chicago’s Hotel Lincoln near DePaul University, was a revelation. The uninspired decor and sterile ambiance were soon replaced by vibrant local references that turned the hotel into a love letter to the community. The hotel’s eventual success inspired Weprin to replicate his concept, giving birth to the Graduate Hotels brand in 2014.

What sets the brand apart is its meticulous attention to detail, tongue-in-cheek aesthetic, and unwavering commitment to capturing the essence of each location. This isn’t your grandmother’s bed and breakfast adorned with random antiques—each Graduate is more like a carefully curated tapestry woven with threads of local history, alumni memories, and university traditions.

“We dedicate an enormous amount of time and energy to connecting with alumni and community members before, during, and after the design process to get the inside scoop on the university traditions, lesser-known stories, and hidden gems that make our spaces so special,” Weprin explains. The goal? To ensure each guest leaves feeling like they’ve just been given an insider tour of the town’s best-kept secrets.

You might think with all this local flavor, the brand would risk falling into the trap of being another kitschy, themed hotel. Weprin is quick to distinguish: “There’s an authentic human element to the brand. Each property can stand alone, yet you can almost immediately recognize the brand when you walk into our spaces.”

function loadConnatixScript(document) {
if (!window.cnxel) {
window.cnxel = {};
window.cnxel.cmd = [];
var iframe = document.createElement(‘iframe’);
iframe.style.display = ‘none’;
iframe.onload = function() {
var iframeDoc = iframe.contentWindow.document;
var script = iframeDoc.createElement(‘script’);
script.src = ‘//cd.elements.video/player.js’ + ‘?cid=’ + ’62cec241-7d09-4462-afc2-f72f8d8ef40a’;
script.setAttribute(‘defer’, ‘1’);
script.setAttribute(‘type’, ‘text/javascript’);
iframeDoc.body.appendChild(script);
};
document.head.appendChild(iframe);

const preloadResourcesEndpoint = ‘https://cds.elements.video/a/preload-resources-ovp.json’;
fetch(preloadResourcesEndpoint, { priority: ‘low’ })
.then(response => {
if (!response.ok) {
throw new Error(‘Network response was not ok’, preloadResourcesEndpoint);
}
return response.json();
})
.then(data => {
const cssUrl = data.css;
const cssUrlLink = document.createElement(‘link’);
cssUrlLink.rel = ‘stylesheet’;
cssUrlLink.href = cssUrl;
cssUrlLink.as = ‘style’;
cssUrlLink.media = ‘print’;
cssUrlLink.onload = function() {
this.media = ‘all’;
};
document.head.appendChild(cssUrlLink);

const hls = data.hls;
const hlsScript = document.createElement(‘script’);
hlsScript.src = hls;
hlsScript.setAttribute(‘defer’, ‘1’);
hlsScript.setAttribute(‘type’, ‘text/javascript’);
document.head.appendChild(hlsScript);
}).catch(error => {
console.error(‘There was a problem with the fetch operation:’, error);
});
}
}
loadConnatixScript(document);

(function() {
function createUniqueId() {
return ‘xxxxxxxx-xxxx-4xxx-yxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx’.replace(/[xy]/g, function(c) {
var r = Math.random() * 16 | 0,
v = c == ‘x’ ? r : (r & 0x3 | 0x8);
return v.toString(16);
});
}
const randId = createUniqueId();
document.getElementsByClassName(‘fbs-cnx’)[0].setAttribute(‘id’, randId);
document.getElementById(randId).removeAttribute(‘class’);
(new Image()).src = ‘https://capi.elements.video/tr/si?token=’ + ’44f947fb-a5ce-41f1-a4fc-78dcf31c262a’ + ‘&cid=’ + ’62cec241-7d09-4462-afc2-f72f8d8ef40a’;
cnxel.cmd.push(function () {
cnxel({
playerId: ’44f947fb-a5ce-41f1-a4fc-78dcf31c262a’,
playlistId: ‘cce06289-75b9-40f5-8676-50e517ab7eb5’,
}).render(randId);
});
})();

This is no small feat. Imagine walking into a hotel and feeling the immediate, comforting sense of familiarity while also being struck by the unique, site-specific details that tell the story of that particular place. Take, for instance, the Graduate Eugene, where Weprin’s sneakerhead enthusiasm manifests in a vintage Nike sneaker collection, including the holy grail of kicks: an original pair of Nike Moon Shoes. Or the Jordan suite at Graduate Chapel Hill, a meticulously recreated dorm room of Michael Jordan, complete with his game-worn sneakers and a $5 check he cashed after winning a game of pool. Or even the 13-punting boat installation at Graduate Cambridge.

The brand’s dedication to historic preservation is evident in projects like the upcoming Graduate Princeton, which involved the sensitive renovation of a 1918 dormitory building. Weprin describes the project with the kind of pride usually reserved for a firstborn child. The challenge was maintaining the building’s historic charm while modernizing it for today’s guests. This delicate dance between old and new is a signature of the Graduate design ethos, ensuring each property retains its unique character while offering contemporary comforts.

As the brand continues to explore new markets and expansion opportunities, its goal remains the same: to offer guests an authentic and immersive experience that feels like a secret handshake with the local community. “If guests walk away feeling more connected to the community or like they learned something during their stay, then we’ve done our job,” Weprin says.

We spoke with Weprin below to learn more about the Graduate brand and the crucial role design and community-building play in each Graduate property.

What sets Graduate apart—design-wise—from other boutique hospitality brands?

You can’t just pick up a Graduate and place it in any market. Each property is designed to tell the story of its community through thoughtful design and hyperlocal programming while serving as the backdrop for some of life’s most memorable moments.

We dedicate an enormous amount of time and energy to connecting with alumni and community members before, during, and after the design process to get the inside scoop on the university traditions, lesser-known stories, and hidden gems that make our spaces so special. If guests walk away feeling more connected to the community or like they learned something during their stay, then we’ve done our job.

Graduate Hotels is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Looking back, what do you think was the pivotal moment or decision that set the course for the brand’s success in the competitive hospitality landscape?

In 2010, we started to notice a gap in the hospitality space. At the time, university markets were overlooked. They were filled with bland accommodations primarily serving as a place to sleep.

The unofficial precursor to Graduate was Chicago’s Hotel Lincoln, a former Days Inn near DePaul University. We bought the asset in 2010 and renovated and repositioned it towards the DePaul community. By incorporating local references throughout the space, like nods to Frank Baum and Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard, John Parker, we created a visceral connection with the community. The success of this project inspired us to replicate the concept in other markets, ultimately shaping the Graduate brand we know today.

It’s hard to stand out in the hospitality industry. In your opinion, what is the most distinguishing feature of Graduate Hotels that sets it apart from other hotel brands? More importantly, how do you avoid falling into the trap of “theme hotel” clichés?

There’s an authentic human element to the brand. I would argue while Graduate hotels don’t necessarily fall into the “themed” hotel brand category… each property can stand alone, yet you can almost immediately recognize the brand when you walk into our spaces and know you’re in a Graduate. There are certain staples in each hotel, like the brand motto, “We Are All Students” and the signature study tables that sit in each lobby. There are definitely some thematic elements, but each hotel has its own story to tell.

When Graduate was born in 2014, no other national hotel brand catered specifically to college towns or university markets. Some of the properties are in “true college towns,” meaning there is no big airport nearby. If you’re going out of your way to visit a university in a small town, Graduate offers an authentic taste of local community and school traditions without walking outside. It’s a community-first approach. In that same vein, the incredible design team at AJ takes the time to sit down with alumni and local community members to learn what’s important to them, what those cherished traditions are, and what frequently stories are told that only locals would know about. It’s a memory or a feeling that guests can experience, either for the first time or all over again.

Each Graduate Hotel is deeply entwined with its location’s university culture and spirit. Can you share a bit about the research and creative process that goes into capturing the essence of each town and its university for a new hotel?

We celebrate the people and narratives that define each Graduate community, and in Auburn, that conversation begins and ends with Bo Jackson. Bo Jackson’s Beans—a coffee shop and bar that honors Bo’s contributions to the sports world—will open with the hotel this fall. Bo embodies the spirit of hard work, passion, and the pursuit of dreams that we hold close. It’s a privilege to collaborate with him in the city where his extraordinary career began in 1982.

The design of Graduate Hotels blends academic charm with local flair. What’s your personal favorite design element or artifact that you’ve incorporated into one of the hotels, and what’s the story behind it?

Over the years, I’ve had several favorite pieces and elements as we’ve grown the brand. One of my favorites is the vintage Nike sneaker collection at Graduate Eugene—I’m a big sneakerhead. We had the incredible opportunity to curate the 40-pair collection, including an original pair of Nike Moon Shoes. There’s also Flyboy at Graduate New York, the Minnie Pearl Tapestry in Nashville, and a 13-punting boat installation at Graduate Cambridge.

We’ve also created curated experiences within the guest rooms. At Graduate Chapel Hill, we recreated the college dorm of my favorite sports hero of all time, Michael Jordan. Fittingly labeled room 23, the room is the exact replica of his dorm at Granville Towers. From the ceiling to the brick wall to the record player and records, the posters, the pennants–every single piece in that room, we have it. The Jordan suite also has some of my favorite MJ memorabilia, including his game-worn sneakers from 1983, a $5 check he cashed after winning a game of pool, and his student ID card.

Can you share a story about the most unexpected or challenging design request you’ve received for a Graduate Hotel? How did you creatively navigate it?

Every hotel has had its challenges, but the most rewarding, I would say, would be those that have a historic restoration component, which is AJ’s bread and butter. Graduate Princeton was a unique challenge, given that part of our approach was to restore and renovate a former student dormitory building from 1918. Our main goal was to ensure the building’s historic character and integrity were preserved while also adapting it to meet the needs of a modern hospitality space. This required careful consideration of architectural details and sensitivity to materials, such as creating a design for the brick exterior of the new construction building that would complement that of the existing structure while still preserving its charm. Structurally, we had to get creative, as the building’s original floor plate was not big enough to accommodate the size of a standard hotel room; so, we had to re-configure much of the existing structure to convert it into a modern, top-tier hotel successfully.

Are there any subtle design details or easter eggs within Graduate Hotels that guests might miss on their first visit? Can you share a favorite example?

Absolutely. One of my favorite examples is in our guest rooms at Graduate Princeton, where you’ll find custom bedside table lamps inspired by the Revolutionary War-era cannons buried behind Nassau Hall. Stories like these, incorporated tastefully into the design, are an important aspect of each property. Subtle yet meaningful design details are scattered throughout all Graduate Hotels, with the intention of keeping our guests curious and connected to the surrounding community and history.

The upcoming launch in Princeton, NJ, marks the 34th property in the Graduate Hotels portfolio. Without giving away too much, can you tease any unique design elements or experiences guests can look forward to at this location?

The lobby of Graduate Princeton is one of the spaces I am most excited about. Guests will be greeted by a two-story library lounge with thousands of books and a collection of vintage Senior Jackets. The space will also feature a thirty-foot carved wooden table, a Graduate staple reminiscent of the historic libraries on campus, which will serve as a public space for visitors and students to study, gather, and connect.

The guest rooms include custom wallpaper inspired by the campus’s renowned arboretum, bespoke bed frames that recall the university’s annual Cane Spree tradition, and more. The restaurant, Ye Tavern, is named after a storied bar that once occupied the same site in the 1930s, and the design is inspired by Princeton University’s famed ‘eating clubs.’

Graduate Hotels’ connection to university towns is unique. How do you ensure that each hotel remains appealing not just to visiting parents and alumni but also to a broader demographic seeking a one-of-a-kind hotel experience?

Celebrating each of these markets and communities is a real honor, and we take it seriously. When it came to my own alma mater—the University of Tennessee—it was especially meaningful. At Graduate Knoxville, we partnered with Peyton Manning, a living legend and local hero, to create Saloon 16. Peyton’s nickname was The Sheriff, and his number was 16, so we told his story through a recreation of an old-school saloon with Peyton’s fingerprints on every aspect of the space.

He’s one of the most detail-oriented people I’ve ever worked with. He’s so meticulous. He picked and named every item on the menu, chose every song on the jukebox, and even pulled from his personal collection to help us curate every picture on the wall. If Peyton were to build a saloon in his basement, this is exactly what it would look like.

Delving into the realm of hypotheticals for a moment, if you could design a Graduate Hotel inspired by any university or college in the world that you haven’t already explored, which would it be and why?

The first international Graduate opened in 2021 in Cambridge and Oxford, England, two of the world’s most historic and iconic university towns. I’d love to see the brand expand internationally and explore what a Graduate is across different university cultures. Here in the U.S., we are always exploring potential markets and have a few that are constantly requested by our brand fans.

Does Graduate Hotels collaborate with local artists and designers to integrate their perspectives into its design narrative? If so, have there been any particularly unique or surprising collaborations?

We’ve partnered with several artists across our portfolio, but one of the most notable collaborations is at Graduate New York with Hebru Brantley. Upon entering, guests are greeted by a striking 12-foot sculpture, a vibrant reinterpretation of Brantley’s iconic Flyboy character, which symbolizes empowerment through knowledge. This colorful Flyboy fills the space with wonder and delight.

And finally, for a bit of fun: If you could choose any fictional university from movies, books, or video games to inspire a Graduate Hotel design, which would it be, and what element would you be most excited to bring to life?

We’ve played with pop culture in a few of our properties—beyond the standard design details—like the Home Alone Suite in Evanston and the Stranger Things Suite in Bloomington, but we’ve only scratched the surface. We’re all about nostalgia, so it would have to be a throwback—I’d love to create an homage to a collegiate comedy classics like Old School or Animal House.

Adblock test (Why?)