Head to head: Bluemont Hotel helps bring in new K-Staters

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It was my first visit to K-State (first time in Kansas, actually) when I sat in my room at the Holiday Inn on campus looking out over Manhattan. After exploring the town and school all day just by walking across the street, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that this was going to be the school for me.

Normally, I would recommend in a heartbeat that any first-time visitor to K-State stay on campus to truly take in the atmosphere of our great little college town. However, up until two months ago, there was only one option nearby and you were out of luck if the Holiday Inn was sold out.

The Bluemont Hotel opened for business on Sept. 17, providing an additional 112 guestrooms to the Manhattan area. The location of the hotel (the corner of Bluemont and Manhattan avenues) provides so many benefits not only to visitors, but to the city as well.

In 1997, there were only approximately 600 hotel rooms in the Manhattan area, according to the Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau. Can you imagine the Auburn game at the beginning of the season, if Manhattan only had 600 hotel rooms? K-State and Auburn fans came from all across the nation for the game, which would have been nowhere near plausible with only 600 hotel rooms.

The Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau said that today there are approximately 1,375 hotel rooms in Manhattan, with several new hotels opening in the past few months. For every additional hotel room, it is an additional opportunity for Manhattan to have visitors and the visitors to be within walking distance of our wonderful university.

In addition, this increase in people will lead to an increase in spending money and economically helping Manhattan businesses. The Bluemont Hotel also has the benefit of being directly across the street from Aggieville, whose restaurants and bars have the chance to pick up on the business. Whether those staying in the hotel walk to Aggievile or not, business owners across Manhattan will gain the benefit from the 112 rooms of people needing to eat and shop.

“The seven or eight home football weekends each season are a financial windfall for the entertainment industry in the city with restaurants seeing a 20 percent increase in sales,” Karen Hibbard, vice president of the Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a Topeka Capital-Journal article.

Not only have the Aggieville businesses benefited, the visitors staying in the hotel have the benefit of convenience. When I stayed in the Holiday Inn, my parents and I walked to Aggieville for lunch and dinner, where I saw K-State students and could easily imagine myself in their shoes. By walking to Aggieville, visitors get the chance to experience the college-town feel of Manhattan. Aggieville is the hot spot to go on weekends and for post-athletic event celebrations. Many visitors that are unable to walk to Aggieville may even skip the experience all together because of limited parking.

The demand is also present. The hotel stated that there was a four-month waitlist of more than 60 people for the Auburn game weekend. K-State alone had fans from 31 states, meaning that many were out-of-town fans that needed a place to stay while in Manhattan. Tickets to the game and Manhattan hotels have been sold out for months.

“I’ve worked in Manhattan in the hotels for 15 years, and only in a couple of other circumstances can I remember ever having this much hype over a game and this much traveler interest in getting into a property,” Jennifer Fritchen, the Bluemont Hotel’s general manager, said in a Wichita Eagle article.

K-State is also currently promoting its 2025 plan, with a goal to become a top research institution. There are numerous construction sites on campus, and with a hotel so close to campus, this is a big chance for visitors to see the changes and potentially donate to the university. Even if the hotel brings just one more donor, that is that much more money to making Kansas State a better university.

I think back to my first visit to Manhattan and realize now that even though it was a cold, snowy January day, I truly was impressed with K-State and all that it had to offer. Staying on campus definitely enhanced my initial experience, providing me convenience and giving me a chance to experience the town.

The newly-established Bluemont Hotel is without a doubt a benefit to the town of Manhattan, its people, its economy and the overall happiness of its visitors. An on-campus hotel certainly increased my happiness as a visitor. After all, Manhattan is nicknamed “Manhappiness,” so isn’t satisfaction the goal?

Scotland Preston is a junior in mass communications.

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