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MUN residences offer travellers budget accommodation in central locations

The two new residences at Memorial University in St. John’s. At left is the Shiwak student residence and at right is Cluett.
The two new residences at Memorial University in St. John’s. At left is the Shiwak student residence and at right is Cluett. - Joe Gibbons

A residence room, featuring a double bed at Memorial University in St. John’s.
A residence room, featuring a double bed at Memorial University in St. John’s.

They are central, convenient and not over-the-top expensive.

The rooms aren’t fussy, fancy or particularly spacious, and often come with modular furnishings that may see a lot of use during the school year.

Those are the accommodations on offer for paying guests, be it for sporting events, leisure travel or a short-term retreat in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond.

Memorial University in St. John’s and Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook have upwards of 2,600 beds available for short-term stays from mid-May to mid-August.

“Much of our business centres on people coming to the university, this immediate area, who are seeking cheaper, well-positioned accommodations,’’ said Mary Garnier, manager of guest accommodations at the St. John’s campus.

“We focus on conferences at MUN, groups with up-and-coming events. Those groups, like MedQUEST and SHAD, are the basis of our business.’’

The exterior of the residence buildings at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University in Corner Brook.
The exterior of the residence buildings at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University in Corner Brook.

But those are not the only people who rent the more than 2,000 beds available in St. John’s. Garnier said they try to also appeal to people who are coming in for sports events, other meetings and those travellers who just want a place to lay their heads at night with little fuss.

Costs in St. John’s range from $69 to $109 per night (plus applicable taxes) for various rooms across campus.
St. John’s residence buildings are centrally located and a 10-minute taxi ride away from the airport. Some people find it makes a great base for a holiday, conference or event, and there are staff to offer suggestions and tips.

“We had a quilters group here a few years back. I think there were around 500 in that group,” Garnier said.

“Our facility worked for them as they were able to get multiple spaces, set it up in a host of common areas and go about their business.’’

She also said there was a Girl Guides event held there as well, but it hasn’t been as busy this year yet as it has been in past years, something she attributed to it being an “off-year.”

“There are not as many conferences here his year. Many of them are on a rotating basis and we just happened to fall into this part of the event rotation,’’ she said.

MUN generally hires about 20 students to work for the accommodations service each year. Garnier said based on an interview process locals, mainlanders and international students have all been hired.

The interior layout of the four-bed chalets available at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University in Corner Brook.
The interior layout of the four-bed chalets available at the Grenfell Campus of Memorial University in Corner Brook.

“Having people from these locations all bring different perspectives to the experience of those who choose Memorial,” Garnier said.

“They all bring a different perspective to the dynamic … and their own little twist to tourism.’’

There are a host of reasons why people choose campus accommodations.

They offer modern, clean rooms, with linens and toiletries provided — and are usually in the heart of a city.

As well, there are group, weekly and monthly rates available, and they can offer large capacity, up to 550 on the Grenfell Campus and up to 2,000 on the St. John’s campus, with meeting and conference space available.

The Grenfell Campus features three different room styles and prices. It expects to be busy this summer as Corner Brook is hosting its Come Home Year celebrations from July 18-28.

“This will be one of our busiest summers,” said Marie-Claude Renaud, conference manager at Grenfell. “We are fully booked for that period, an unusual situation for us. I suspect the entire area will be like that this summer, as there are only about 625 hotels rooms available in Corner Brook. People who come this way have to stay as far away as Deer lake to get rooms.”

Prices start at around $30 a night (plus taxes) per bed (all singles) and they range from older-style dormitory rooms to spacious four-bed chalets that go for $139 (plus taxes) a night.
There are a dozen studio rooms with double beds.

“What we have here complements what hotels have to offer,’’ she said.

“This is not a four-star product, but it is a three-star product, and by all accounts, we are doing well on TripAdvisor (travel website).’’

Both campus facilities can be accessed through Destination St. John’s and Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and booking can also be done by phone or online.


Who charges what?

A snapshot of what some Atlantic Canadian universities and colleges charge for residence accommodations; taxes may be extra and not every price quoted is a straight comparison with the rate at another university:

Memorial University:  $69 to $109 per night at St. John's campus, $30 to $139 at Grenfell campus (Corner Brook)

Dalhousie University: $69

St. Mary’s: $94 (double plus breakfast)

King’s College: $72

Mount St. Vincent: $120 (four bedroom)

UNB Fredericton: $65 (breakfast included)

UNB Saint John: $56 (double)

UPEI: $53-$150

Holland College: $109 (2 bedroom – Glendenning Hall)


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