Pending the approval of its Board of Trustees Thursday, UCF will join the University of South Florida and the University of Florida in providing an on-campus hotel.
The Florida Board of Governors’ Nov. 4 approval of the construction of an upscale boutique hotel on UCF’s main campus moved plans forward, but now it is up to the Board of Trustees to officially approve the agreement.
According to UCF documents, the hotel will be “designed with the operating efficiencies of an upscale full-service, branded hotel, yet with an emphasis on the desirable attributes of a destination boutique hotel.”
Michael Terry, an associate instructor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, explained that a boutique hotel is one that is chic and intimate, usually having a specific personality, theme or purpose.
“In theory, I think boutique suggests unique, and so that’s the purpose. It’s generally not a chain, there might be a chain of boutique hotels, but each one would be different,” Terry said. “It’s much like a boutique apparel shop in the sense that you’re not going to find a whole bunch of them on a rack.
“It’s small, generally somewhere between 75 and 150 rooms, and all of its furniture, fixtures, equipment, design, architecture and amenities are all rather unique.”
Terry, who was on the selection committee that helped make the decision for the UCF hotel, added that boutique hotels cater to those guests who don’t want “the norm” and who want to have a different experience than just being in a room.
Hotel plans include 12,000 square feet of exterior entertainment areas, conference facilities that can accommodate up to 700 in a meeting configuration and 350 for banquets, a full-service three-meal restaurant, and controlled-access surface parking for 200 cars on site, the documents state.
UCF’s interest in a full-service hotel stems from desire for assistance with faculty and staff recruitment. UF and USF have so far seen success with the hotels residing on their campuses, as they serve a variety of students, faculty and university guests.
As far as size is concerned, UF’s 36-room Reitz Union Hotel, which was built in 1967 and is part of the university’s Reitz Union building, pales in comparison to the plans for UCF’s 135-room hotel.
“Over the years, the hotel has been a source of great convenience for departments on campus who have guests for various university or department functions,” said Eddie Daniels, executive director of the Reitz Union. “The hotel operation is financially sound and has been successful over time. Our occupancy rate is slightly better than hotels in the local community.”
While USF’s Embassy Suites Tampa-USF/Near Busch Gardens is located on campus, it is not owned or operated by the university — just as UCF’s hotel will be. USF spokesman Adam Freeman said the hotel was built in the 1990s near the southern edge of the Tampa campus, on land owned by the state of Florida.
“While the facility is privately owned and operated, it can provide USF faculty, staff and students with a conveniently located option for guests visiting the Tampa Bay area for university-related matters,” Freeman said.
The construction, operation and maintenance that will come with UCF’s on-campus hotel will not be the university’s burden. The documents state that the hotel will be co-managed by KUD International, LLC — which has worked closely with UCF in the past on projects such as the CFE Arena and the Towers at Knights Plaza — and Brooksville Development Company.
UCF will receive base rent payments starting at $140,000 in 2018 and increasing by 2 percent annually afterward. It projects that over the 52-year lease period, it will receive around $24 million, which it plans to use for scholarships.
If plans continue to move forward, construction on the $35-million property, which will be completely financed by the owner, will begin in March 2016 and will be scheduled for completion in January 2018.
Danielle Hendrix is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @ByDaniHendrix or email her at DanielleH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.