Senior class to stay downtown

| Senior News Editor

Members of the Senior Class Council confirmed Tuesday afternoon that they were able to book new rooms in two hotels in downtown Chicago to accommodate the 128 students displaced by an unexpected cancellation from the Fairmont Millenium Hotel.

The rest of the students will stay in the Congress Plaza Hotel, where they have been registered to stay since September.

After the Fairmont cancelled the seniors’ rooms last Wednesday, the Senior Class Council booked rooms at the Sheraton near O’Hare Airport, away from many of the planned activities and the rest of the seniors.

The new hotels are the Marriott ExecuStay Millennium Park Plaza and the Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago-Downtown. Initially, the class council was unable to find new rooms downtown due to a conference for the American Academy of Opthamology, which has attracted reservations for more than 25,000.

Following the cancellation, staff at the Fairmont agreed to help members of the class council look for new downtown accommodations. According to senior class president Alex Kiles, authorities at the Fairmont told the class council that the Sheraton was the closest available hotel.

The Marriot is more expensive than the original rooms and will cost an additional $5,220. The class council has also been unable to get a refund for the $9,000 that they put down at the Sheraton. To cover these costs, they have been in touch with the Fairmont about compensation for breaking their contract.

On Tuesday evening, a manager at the Fairmont confirmed that the hotel would pay the difference.

“We are committing to pay for costs related to the contracting of an alternate hotel in the O’Hare area … and the additional room rate increase associated with the downtown rooms at the Marriott,” wrote Dan Dolan, the Fairmont’s director of sales and marketing, in an e-mail to the Senior Class Council.

So far, perception of the senior class has been understanding.

“It is really rude of the hotel to mess up a contract like this. I don’t understand how can a hotel be overbooked by 300 rooms,” senior Toby Shepard said. “This shows the incompetence of the hotel’s management.”

The Senior Class Council encouraged seniors to contact the hotel to express their frustrations. On Monday, Kiles sent an e-mail template to the trip’s participants, and the hotel’s management has been inundated with e-mails and phone calls from both students and parents.

“We don’t accept this kind of behavior at Wash. U.,” Kiles said. “I want to thank all of the members of the class of 2011 that worked to mobilize the troops and get calls in.”

The school is not yet taking legal steps against the Fairmont.

“At this point, we’re still trying to figure out what all the facts are and how the Senior Class Council wants to move forward. If any actions are taken, that will be a decision for the legal counsel to make,” said Mary Zabriskie, the assistant director of campus life.

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