By Jeff Barnes
For The Diamondback
A Cambria Hotel and Suites opened in downtown College Park last week, the latest development in the city's push to become a top-tier college town.
The new 150-guest room property and the restaurant beneath it — the College Park Grill — both opened on Aug. 1. They are located a short walk from the University of Maryland's campus near The University View apartment buildings.
It's the second major hotel project to open nearby in the past year, joining The Hotel at the University of Maryland, which opened in September. Both properties are owned and operated by Southern Management Corporation.
Unlike The Hotel at the University of Maryland, the Cambria is a branded hotel through Choice Hotels. The Cambria caters to business and leisure travelers and has oversized rooms, a fitness facility and unique features such as a Bluetooth-enabled bathroom mirror.
The Cambria College Park will also include University of Maryland-themed artwork from local artists throughout the hotel. The new hotel, with only a fraction of the conference space of the Hotel at the University of Maryland, could serve as an overflow venue with rooms for large conference events.
The hotels' rates are comparable, with standard rooms costing, on average, anywhere from $100 to $150 per night, according to their websites.
Despite the The Hotel at the University of Maryland's recent opening, College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn believes new developments such as the Cambria bring something new and exciting to the city.
"Cambria is a sleek and trendy hotel chain," said Wojahn, who also serves on the College Park City-University Partnership, an organization aiming to make College Park a top-20 college town by 2020. "The architecture combines a more modern flair with the classic College Park red brick."
For the most part, Wojahn said the community is excited about the new development, and he hopes the new project helps attract more visitors to the city year-round, as many local businesses struggle during the summer.
"One of the things they are most looking for is more restaurants and more amenities," Wojahn said. "People want to be able to stay in College Park when they go out for dinner with their friends or with their loved ones and we are addressing that demand, that need, through things like the Cambria and the College Park Grill."
Brynn Drury, a rising junior government and politics major at the university, said she doesn't think the city needs another hotel, but new amenities like the College Park Grill give her more reason to stick around after classes are over.
"It's definitely starting to feel more like a college town now," Drury said.
Matt Cabaniss, Southern Management's marketing manager, sees the continued development of Route 1 as a huge opportunity for College Park, especially as construction of the Purple Line began this summer. The Purple Line, an above-ground light-rail train, will go through this university's campus and provide direct access from College Park to larger cities such as Silver Spring and Bethesda.
"To me, what's happening in this area is very exciting," Cabaniss said. "You look at all the development, and I know there are a lot of people who feel that all development is negative, but I think it does a lot of positive things for this area and, for me, it's very exciting to see what's happening around here."