• John-Michael Scurio

Discovering NWA!

Updated: May 27

A Blog Series

See how this stunning hotel in Fayetteville, Arkansas embraced "aesthetics of joy" and transformed before our very eyes.

If you follow this blog, the concept of "aesthetics of joy" should not be new to you. Aesthetics of joy is a simple, powerful idea: our greatest source of joy is the world around us.

Aesthetics of joy celebrates the power of color, light, pattern, and shape to create a happier, healthier, more joyful world.


This first picture shows one of the guest rooms at the former Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville, AR.


This picture utterly kills me. Just as I look at it, I can actually feel it sucking the "o" from my joy. It's absolutely void of color, vibrancy, energy, emotion . . . and, of course, joy! It feels like I just walked into a hospital room; and frankly, one never wants to be there.

The talented team at Graduate Hotels, have transformed Fayetteville's former Chancellor Hotel into another famed Graduate Hotel and what a tremendous accomplishment.


Graduate Hotels is a collection of hotels located in college towns across the country, launched by AJ Capital Partners in 2014. Each hotel reflects the vibrancy, energy and pride of the nearby college. There are currently 27 Graduate Hotels operating across the United States.


The stark white Chancellor-esque room above was utterly transformed by the team at Graduate into a prideful, Razorback-themed joy-fest.

But how . . . well, in 2011, the 206-room hotel was sold to Southwind Hospitality Holdings for $3.8 million. The property was named the Chancellor and underwent significant renovations valued at nearly $17 million at the time.


$17 million for white-on-white-on-white, with a touch of black and tan?? What??

Unbelievable.


Well, prior to Southwind's buying the property, former owners John Nock and Richard Alexander, Northwest Arkansas real-estate developers, had a $16.2 billion loan on the hotel, then called The Cosmopolitan, through Rogers-based bank ANB Financial. Federal regulators closed ANB in May 2008.


The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. later created ANB Ventures to deal with ANB's outstanding loans. ANB Ventures foreclosed on the property in the spring of 2010 and a court-appointed receiver was assigned to keep the hotel open.


In 2018, hotels in Fayetteville had an occupancy rate of 68.5 percent, up 1.1 percent from a year earlier, according to reports from The STR Report, which provides data bench marking and analytics for the hospitality sector worldwide. The average daily room rate stood at $93.80, up 2.7 percent from 2017. Total revenue for the year was $43.16 million, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier.


Kelly Way, associate professor in the hospitality management department of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food & Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said the Graduate brand is a good fit for Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas.


When Graduate gets here . . .

"You'll feel the university," she explained. "You'll feel Fayetteville."


Well . . .

We feel it!

We feel it!


Check out what they did.

Before (Chancellor)


After (Graduate)

Even the exterior is now joyful and collegiate.

Before (Chancellor)

After (Graduate)

The Lobby Bar went from stark and cold to bohemian and warm.

Before (Chancellor)

After (Graduate)

Every area utterly transformed with color, light, pattern and shapes. Joy surrounds you in this new aesthetic.

Before (Chancellor)

After (Graduate)

The pool beckons...

Before (Chancellor)

After (Graduate)

It's truly a real-life example of how we can create joy in the world around us just by simply changing our environment to elicit joy.

Before (Chancellor)

After (Graduate)

Before (Chancellor)

After (Graduate)

Before (Chancellor)

After (Graduate)

Every corner of this property was assessed, evaluated and transformed. The Graduate Hotels team is one to watch. Currently with 27 operating hotels, you can find a unique hand-crafted Graduate in the following college towns in America:


1. Ann Arbor MI

2. Annapolis MD

3. Athens GA

4. Berkeley CA

5. Bloomington IN

6. Chapel Hill NC

7. Charlottesville VA

8. Cincinnati OH

9. Columbia SC

10. Columbus OH

11. Eugene OR

12. Fayetteville AR

13. Iowa City IA

14. Knoxville TN

15. Lincoln NE

16. Madison WI

17. Minneapolis MN

18. Nashville TN

19. New Haven CT

20. Oxford MS

21. Providence RI

22. Richmond VA

23. Roosevelt Island NY

24. Seattle WA

25. State College PA

26. Storrs CT

27. Tempe AZ

Artists painting a rug mural on the lobby floor.

Creating a truly warm welcome to The Graduate Fayetteville.

WE ARE ALL STUDENTS

Discovering NWA is a blog series where we seek to discover the unique things that make up Northwest Arkansas. There is so much to see, experience and explore here in this beautiful part of our Country and in this series we will take time to give you the local perspective on what to do, where to go, and what to see.