Sixteen months after groundbreaking, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott, part of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center, is set to open Friday, Aug. 3.
The hotel, managed by Denver-based Sage Hospitality, has 150 rooms on six floors and 5,000-square-feet of meeting space. A ribbon cutting for the hotel will be held on Aug. 8.
The HLC will be ready for classes when the fall semester starts on Aug. 20. An opening celebration for faculty and staff of the HLC is scheduled for Sept. 14 and a community gala and fundraiser will be held onsite Sept. 27.
The SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown at Metro State—that’s its formal name—will provide a learning opportunity for MSU Denver students in the Hospitality, Tourism and Events (HTE) Department. More than 60 of the hotel’s 80 or so employees will be students. They’ll get hands-on experience in hotel operations, from front desk management, to housekeeping, to food service—“every position,” says Chad Gruhl, chair-elect and associate professor in the HTE Department.
“It’s all about education,” he says.
Gruhl says the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center is not just about HTE but “about all of our departments that can possibly be involved with us.”
And the department that is most visibly involved is the Art Department.
The walls of the HLC and the SpringHill Suites feature creative works by MSU Denver faculty, students and alumni. It is an eclectic collection of drawings, paintings, wall sculpture, photographs and mixed-media images.
“It represents Metro State’s past, present and future,” says Deanne Pytlinski, assistant chair of the Department of Art, noting the generational diversity of the artists.
“We have a program that stresses interdisciplinary and mixed media in keeping with contemporary art today,” Pytlinski says, “I think this [collection] is a snapshot of how we teach, what we stand for.”
The call for entries last fall drew applications from 64 artists. A committee made up of faculty and students and representatives of the building contractor and architectural and interior design firms reviewed submissions and made recommendations to a second committee that included President Stephen Jordan and representative of Sage Hospitality.
Each artist whose work was chosen for either the HLC or the hotel received a cash award ranging from $1,200 to a few thousand dollars. Click here for the list of those chosen.
The use of art created by people with ties to the University is another example of the many connections MSU Denver has with the community, Pytlinski said. “Taking our intellectual knowledge and using it to apply to real world solutions works in the art world, too.”
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