Email to Student Body Reveals Plans for Mason Inn

The Mason Inn, luxury hotel on the Fairfax Campus (photo by John Irwin)
The Mason Inn, luxury hotel on the Fairfax Campus (photo by John Irwin)

On Monday afternoon, students received an email from President Cabrera about the decision to transform the Mason Inn, currently a luxury hotel located on campus, to a residential, dining, and instructional facility.

Since it’s opening in fall 2010, the Mason Inn has lost roughly $11 million. Based on the losses, President Cabrera formed a Mason Inn Task Force at the beginning of the semester to propose new business models that would make the hotel more profitable. After the official proposal was written for President Cabrera’s review, the task force and the President agreed that converting the hotel into a facility that would serve the student body and faculty directly would yield the best results.

Jennifer Wagner Davis, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and the head of the Mason Inn Task Force, discussed why they pushed for the transformation. “The committee focused on our core needs at the University. We are currently experiencing growth in our student population.  That is great news---but puts additional pressure on our limited classrooms, dining halls, and dormitories,” Davis said.

Cabrera’s email noted that this fall had the biggest freshman class accepted in the school’s history, so the demand for on-campus housing is at an all-time high. The task force believes with the transformation of the Mason Inn into student housing, some of that pressure will be alleviated.

As far as specific plans for what the hotel will ultimately look like and offer to students and faculty, the administration is planning on working on the floor plan in early 2014.

“We want to minimize reconfiguration costs so mostly likely the hotel rooms will be converted to double-occupancy dormitory rooms, although again, this is just the preliminary thinking,” Davis said.

For dining options, Davis said they plan to hire an Advisory Working Group in early 2014 to assist in making the best dining options available with what they already have. Boxwoods is the current full-service restaurant located in the hotel, which seats 175 persons as well as a 12-person Presidential Dining Room.

“Boxwoods is one of the great signatures of the Mason Inn today that we want to try to find a way to maintain in some form.”

More updates will follow as details are worked out early next year.

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