By JEFFREY COLTIN
The Bronx Park Motel brings to mind every gritty roadside motel you have ever seen in a movie. It could be the motel where Tony Montana makes his first kill in Scarface, or it could be the motel where Leonard tries to solve a murder in Memento.
The attributes that make motels like these so attractive to Hollywood — marginality, squalor, anonymity — are the exact same attributes that make the Bronx Park Motel entirely unattractive to Fordham parents.
Oct. 4-6 was Fordham Family Weekend, a yearly tradition where Fordham students host their parents at Rose Hill. While the days may be spent on campus, the nights are spent in other places. Instead of the Bronx Park Motel, a convenient three-minute walk from campus, Fordham families come from across the country to stay the night in the hotel rooms of Westchester County. It is such a busy weekend, a hotel room in the closer suburbs can be hard to find.
“All the hotels were booked in Yonkers,” said Patty Zanghi, mother of Elizabeth Zanghi, FCRH ’15, photo editor for The Ram. “We had to go to White Plains. I made reservations early on and still had a difficult time. It hasn’t been easy for sure.”
Many shared the sentiment this weekend. With no vacancy in Yonkers, Rose Hill parents were forced to look beyond, staying in White Plains or Rye. Such has become standard for parents visiting the Bronx.
Those who head to Fordham’s website to find a place to stay nearby are given a list of six hotels, all in Westchester County. Two are in Yonkers, but the others are in White Plains or Tarrytown near the Tappan Zee Bridge. Those are more than a 20-minute drive from Rose Hill — and that is without traffic.
Why these six hotels? Some are a fair distance from the Bronx, and there are many fine hotels still in Westchester County that are closer to Rose Hill. CAB’s Special Events Committee that organizes the weekend says it simply links to Fordham’s online hotel list. A request for further comment on the list from OSLCD went unanswered. Fordham Admission provides an almost identical list to prospective students.
Director of Undergraduate Admission Patricia Peek did not explain who chose the hotels on the list, but said most prospective students and their families are fine with staying in Westchester County or Manhattan.
“Westchester options are reasonably convenient,” Peek said, “and our complimentary parking on campus makes the drive to Rose Hill quite easy for prospective families.”
The Admission Office provides another hotel list for Manhattan lodgings. Most are near Lincoln Center or Grand Central Terminal to take advantage of the Ram Van and Metro-North, respectively. But of the 31 area hotels provided on Fordham’s website, not one is in the Bronx.
The Bronx is short on hotels, but it is not completely devoid of them. There are a number of lodgings in the borough that have decent ratings on Tripadvisor.
Most do not have the size or luxury that you would find in Tarrytown, but they’re all significantly closer to Rose Hill than the hotels in Westchester, subway accessible, and — most importantly — actually within the urban setting of the Bronx that Fordham students encounter almost every day.
Among these is the Howard Johnson Express Inn. It is just south of the Bronx Zoo and a mere six-minute drive from Rose Hill. Other well-reviewed hotels are the Ramada Bronx, 13 minutes away near Co-Op City, and the Days Inn Yankee Stadium, 10 blocks from the stadium and a 12-minute drive to Rose Hill.
The new crown jewel of the Bronx hotel scene, however, is the Opera House Hotel. It opened in August in the old Bronx Opera House near 149th St. and 3rd Ave. It is the borough’s first luxury hotel, and the reviews online are positively glowing. It is a 13-minute drive to Rose Hill’s main gate.
Elizabeth Feibusch, mother of, Phil Feibusch, FCRH ’17, is the only Fordham parent surveyed who had stayed in the Bronx. Feibusch and her son stayed at the Rodeway Inn Bronx Zoo when they came to Rose Hill for orientation.
Located just up Webster Ave, it’s an easily walkable three-minute drive from campus.
“Good accommodations,” the family said. The room was small, but “it’s across from the police station, you feel safe.”
For family weekend, however, the Feibusch family chose just to drive in from home, about an hour away.
Others did the same, citing a lack of suitable hotels very close to campus. Families surveyed spent the night in their homes in Connecticut, Long Island’s Suffolk County and upstate Orange County. They seemed to agree that getting a hotel was not worth the price if they were going to have to drive to Rose Hill anyway.
Hotel options within walking distance to campus do not fit the standards of most Fordham parents.
There is the aforementioned Bronx Park Motel, at the corner of Crotona and Fordham Rd. Online reviewers call it “very nasty” and say it “stinks like booty.” There’s the Jet Set Hotel on 3rd Ave., two blocks away from Arthur Ave. Reviews are slightly better, but almost all refer to it as a place to “get busy for a couple hours.”
Down on 184th and Grand Concourse sits the Concourse Residential, which an anonymous reviewer described as “that’s disgusting is for homeless and drugs people [sic].”
Fordham parents do not seem to have an aversion to staying in the Bronx.
Almost every single Fordham parent surveyed said they would stay closer to Rose Hill if there were nicer lodgings.
However, few actively looked for rooms in the Bronx.
Dawn Rooke, mother of Jon Rooke, FCRH ’15, actually knew about the Opera House Hotel, but did not look into it, assuming it would be booked.
She and husband Brian Rooke stayed at a hotel in Rye instead.
But Brian is not settling for Westchester.
“We’re hopeful that some enterprising, entrepreneurial Fordham grad will open up a nice, franchise hotel in the Bronx in the near future,” he said.
If such a place were built, there is no telling whether Fordham families would support it or continue flocking in from Westchester.
At least one Fordham parent, however, was excited for the idea of a nicer hotel near Rose Hill.
“If there were such a hotel,” Lisa Cacace, mother of CJ Cacace, GSB ’15, said. “We would have definitely had a party. We would have had everybody come over. Absolutely!”