It’s already time to look ahead—and into your wallet— for graduation weekend
Even before studying to pass those last few classes, sifting through mountains of paperwork and ordering caps and gowns, graduating Chico State students need to be thinking about the big weekend. It turns out, in this college town that is Chico, finding an affordable hotel to put up the family can be quite a challenge.
Although the school year has barely begun, the majority of the hotels in Chico have already been booked for the weekend of graduation, May 23-25. The few hotels that still have available space have hiked up the prices by as much as three times, making the cost of a weekend in Chico equal to a stay in a Hawaiian resort, sans the umbrella drinks and beachside cabanas.
Ashley Paul, who plans to graduate in the spring, is still looking for a room for her family, which will travel from San Jose. She is considering accommodations in Paradise because the hotels in Chico are either full or expensive.
“From a business standpoint I can see why they’re doing it,” Paul said about jacking up prices. “But I don’t really think it’s fair, especially considering the quality of some of the hotels.”
For Paul, and many other university students, graduation is a family affair. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and family friends often make the journey along with immediate families. With about 2,700 students participating in graduation ceremonies, the family and friends can add up, and all of these people need places to stay.
For parents who are willing to pay the price but want a nicer hotel, waiting lists are currently among the only options. Oxford Suites, for example, already has a waiting list of 30 families for graduation weekend, according to manager Chris Coder. The hotel started taking reservations July 10 and was sold out within three hours.
The Courtyard Marriott also sold out in July. Deeming the weekend a blackout weekend, the hotel requires a three-night minimum stay and raised its prices to $189 per night, said manager Megan Riley. A weekend night usually costs $109-$159.
Even small, family-owned B&Bs like Johnson’s Country Inn off Morehead Avenue are booked for graduation weekend.
A few hotels that do still have room include Motel 6, Marriott Residence Inn and Super 8. Motel 6 has about 15 rooms available and warns that the prices are subject to change. However, if you book a room now online, the price ranges from $57.99 to $69.99 per night. Super 8 will not take reservations for graduation weekend until Jan. 1 and has not yet set prices. The Residence Inn has rooms available, but since it’s an extended-stay hotel, there is a four-night minimum. The rooms will be released within the next 30 days, and the rates have not yet been set. Normal prices for the hotel range from $124 to $209 per night.
One solution to the hotel crunch might remind parents a bit of their own college years. To help with the problem of overflowing hotels, the university offers accommodation in its dorms, a mere three hours after underclassmen are required to vacate. Prices are $80 for a double room and $45 for a single and include towels and continental breakfast.
“We don’t consider ourselves to be in competition with the hotels in Chico or Sacramento; we are just overflow,” said Natalie Gebicke, who coordinates the Graduation Housing Program.
The program has been in existence since the ‘90s and has the capacity to accommodate between 600 and 900 people, mostly in the north campus buildings of Mechoopda, Esken and if need be in Lassen and Shasta halls. The margin of time between the freshmen students moving out and the parents moving in is tight. Students must be out of their campus housing by 6 p.m. on May 23, and parents can check in that night starting at 9 p.m.
Although the late check-in time and facilities such as communal bathrooms may be seen as less than ideal for families, it may beat the alternative of staying in Sacramento or paying a hotel for a two-night minimum stay, when they only want to stay for one night, Gebicke said.
No matter where grads hope to put up family and friends for graduation weekend, one thing is for sure: Procrastination will get them nowhere.
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