Talk about no room at the inn. Yes, it's only December, but Lawrence hotels and motels are booked solid for a key date in May.
There's only a slim chance of finding a room here during Kansas University's commencement weekend in May, hotel and motel operators say.
"We have two groups that canceled last week," said Kenny Liu, manager of the Virginia Inn Motel, 2907 W. Sixth. "If we didn't have that cancellation we would be full."
Aside from such cancellations, graduates and their families will have little luck finding a room.
"They're all full and they have been for a while," said Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Billings said motel rooms often begin filling up a year in advance for commencement weekend, traditionally one of the busiest for Lawrence lodgings.
Commencement is Sunday, May 16.
Employees of several motels contacted this week said rooms were booked months ago for May 14, 15 and 16.
"WE HAVE been full since last graduation," said Linda Maas, manager of Westminister Inn, 2525 W. Sixth. "Every day I'll bet we get four phone calls a day" about commencement weekend openings, she said. "We're starting to make reservations for (commencement) 1994."
Tom Hepford, guest services manager for the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Dr., said the hotel has been full for commencement weekend since September.
"I think everyone is going to be booked," he said.
Liu said the Virginia Inn has 22 rooms open after two large groups canceled.
"I don't think we will have any trouble filling them," he said. "If you make an announcement, they could be filled in one or two weeks."
Saundra Schooley, manager of the Super 8 Motel, 515 McDonald, said commencement weekend is one of the busiest times for local motels.
"That's one week where there's no rooms in Lawrence," she said.
Brian Woolley, manager of the Best Western Hallmark Inn, 730 Iowa, said that motel has been booked about two months.
"IF PEOPLE don't have something already reserved they'll have to try Topeka, Overland Park or Ottawa," he said.
Billings said first-time visitors to the city may be frustrated if they can't find a motel room available during commencement weekend.
"I think parents get very frustrated that they don't know they need to make reservations the very first day that the students come back" for the fall semester, she said.
Employees at the Travelodge, 801 Iowa; the Bismarck Inn of Lawrence, 1100 N. Third; Days Inn, 2309 Iowa; and the Quality Inn, 2222 W. Sixth, said those motels were booked.
"We had people calling as soon as (commencement) last year was over," said Lori Kay, desk clerk at the Days Inn.
Billings said the people who make reservations for commencement weekend months in advance sometimes change their plans.
"People who make reservations make them for the maximum amount that they need," she said. "Sometimes people cancel at the last minute and during that week before commencement there's a whole lot of juggling that goes on" with reservations, she said.