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Yorktowne Hotel Nears Completion with Help of York College Students

Zach Whelan, Hospitality Management student pictured in the Yorktowne Hotel.

York College of Pennsylvania Hospitality Management majors are among the students involved in the reopening of the Yorktowne Hotel. 

When Zachary “Zach” Whelan ’23 entered the Hospitality Management program at York College of Pennsylvania, he had no idea that he’d get to play a role in the restoration and opening of an actual hotel. As he was building his schedule for the Spring 2021 Semester, he needed another Hospitality elective. That’s when he discovered the Yorktowne Hotel Project-Based Learning class.

Zach and a handful of other students from the Hospitality Management program found themselves working closely with the Yorktowne Hotel team, helping them problem-solve and move the project forward. Zach’s team was given an assignment to help plan a career fair for the new hotel. The team designed flyer templates, connected with other downtown businesses, and focused on growing not just the Yorktowne Hotel, but the entire downtown community.

“It’s a chance for students to apply real skills to a $50-million project,” says John Hughes, EdD, Associate Professor of Hospitality and Dean of the School of the Arts, Communication and Global Studies.

The course culminated in an in-person meeting with the York County Industrial Development Authority (YCIDA), which owns the Yorktowne Hotel. The team presented its plans for the career fair at the Yorktowne Hotel, as well as an idea to open the fair up to other area restaurants and businesses.

‘History of the hotel’

Another way that students have been involved with the Yorktowne Hotel project is in putting together items to go into the Yorktowne Hotel time capsule. “They’ve invited a number of people to be involved,” Hughes says.

Each group interested in submitting items to the time capsule had to fill out an application and choose two to three items to be included. York College plans to include a College banner as well as a photo and article depicting student involvement in the project.

“It will establish the history of the hotel,” says Hughes, adding, “It’s a way of marking the many entities involved in making this happen.”

From people who love the City of York to the investors and various agencies and contractors, many different entities will have a chance to be a part of the collection, Hughes says.

A future in hospitality

For Zach, being involved in the Yorktowne Hotel project has solidified his appreciation of the community-college relationship. One of the main reasons Zach chose York College in the first place was because of his interest in going to a smaller school. He wanted smaller class sizes and more opportunities to connect with his professors.

Hospitality Management’s focus on interacting with people while offering the opportunity to experience varied work days drew Zach in. He’s already had the opportunity to use the skills he has learned at York College during his summer working in the food and beverage department of a Delaware golf course.

Zach has signed up to take the Yorktowne Hotel Project-Based Learning class again for the Spring 2022 semester. “It’s always a surprise what we’re going to be working on,” he says. With the opening of the Hotel getting ever nearer, he’s excited to be involved in any way.