The University of Pittsburgh this week announced plans to expand student housing this fall in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, including buying out three local hotels. The Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, located on the university’s campus at 100 Lytton Ave, is among these properties.
Carol Lynch, senior vice president of sales for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said that schools and universities across the country are being challenged to quickly find new ways to safely house students as the pandemic continues. “Hotels represent a convenient, turnkey solution, and Wyndham, with its thousands of hotels and diverse portfolio of brands, is ideally positioned to assist,” said Lynch.“We’re thrilled to be working with University of Pittsburgh on this opportunity and are excited to be in similar conversations with other institutions throughout the country.”
Amid shutdowns resulting from the pandemic, many hotels repositioned their assets for alternate uses—including as a solution for student housing challenges. In addition to helping universities house students safely, these partnerships ensure guaranteed occupancy for hotels through an extended period of time.
While this discussion has been ongoing in the industry, few major universities in the United States have solidified plans and formally announced hotel partners thus far. Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center’s agreement with University of Pittsburgh is among the first, and it builds on an existing relationship between the university and the hotel; in previous years, two floors of the hotel were used for student housing. Under the new agreement, the 251-room Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center will operate at 100-percent occupancy for 10 months through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, enabling the hotel to bring back more than 24 previously furloughed team members.
According to Wyndham, the hotel will operate in the same way as campus housing, with 24-hour security as well as staff such as a resident assistant and resident director providing supervision and support to students. Students will responsible for cleaning their rooms, as they would in a typical student housing arrangement, while the hotel will maintain and clean all public spaces. The property will continue to follow all health and safety protocols outlined in Wyndham’s Count on Us initiative while aligning with any additional requirements outlined by the University.
In addition to providing rooms and public spaces, the hotel’s restaurant has modified its menu to cater to students with affordable options. Students will be able to pay for meals at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center using the University’s “Panther Funds,” which can be reloaded by both students and parents.
“We’re incredibly proud of the relationship we’ve formed with The University of Pittsburgh over the years and this only builds on that,” said Coleman Hughes, general manager of the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center. “As we prepare to welcome students back, our number one priority will continue to be their health and safety and the health and safety of our team members.”