For less than $3, a UCLA student can rent a movie from Redbox, buy a package of ramen noodles and hunker down for a relaxing night – in a cramped, noisy dorm room.

But the W Hotel in Westwood, just a few steps from campus, wants that student to try something a bit more upscale. For the rest of the year, the hotel is offering a students-only package for a discounted room along with a free on-demand movie

and popcorn.

Called the Night Without Roommates, the package is available Thursday through Sunday and starts at $199. That’s pricey for most students – but still cheaper than the standard room rates that start at $299 and in-room movie prices that range between $10 and $15.

James Gancos, the hotel’s general manager, said he wants to make the hotel more approachable for its neighbors.

“UCLA is right across the street from us, but we don’t see students here as often as we’d like,” he said. “We want to reach out and give someone a break from the norm.”

But it’s hard to imagine college students, most of whom face ever-increasing fees and loads of debt, springing for a $200 hotel room, said Alan X. Reay, president of Irvine travel and hotel consulting firm Atlas Hospitality Group.

“It really is counterintuitive to what I’m hearing,” he said. “Friends I have, their sons and daughters are staying with them because they can’t afford to stay in the dorms.”

The package could be attractive to some of the wealthier students, but

Reay guessed the promotion is more a marketing ploy than anything else. UCLA plans to build a hotel and conference center on campus, and Reay said the W could be trying to build loyalty among current and future alumni.

“They’re hoping not to lose to a hotel on campus,” he said.

– James Rufus Koren

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.