The scientific formula for sweet tea is scrawled on chalkboards that line the walls at the Graduate Athens hotel in Georgia. It’s a tribute to a beloved professor at the University of Georgia. Meanwhile, at the Graduate Charlottesville hotel, a wahoo, a fish that can supposedly drink twice its weight in water, is mounted over each bed. Why? Because the wahoo is the unofficial mascot of the University of Virginia, where the students’ drinking capacity  purportedly rivals that of the fish. These quirky

These quirky details, which make sense only in their settings, capture the spirit of Graduate Hotels, a college-town chain dreamed up by Ben Weprin, the 38-year-old founder of real estate and hospitality development company AJ Capital Partners. 

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Ben Weprin
“That storytelling aspect differentiates us,” Weprin says. “We don’t just throw a pennant on a wall in a college town. We look for the people and stories that made each place what it is, and then we put together a narrative within the hotel.”

When Weprin founded his company in 2008, the entrepreneur made a name for himself by restoring historic buildings and making them cool spaces favored by travelers and locals alike. In addition to the Graduate brand, Weprin is behind the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel in Chicago and the recently reopened Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District of New Orleans.

Graduate is the finest example yet of that community-led, history-inspired atmosphere that AJ Capital Partners is trying to achieve.

“Our properties have to feel lived in, comfortable, and relaxed,” Weprin says. “They should feel layered and textured and evolved over time. Ultimately, we’re trying to catch the rhythm,  spirit, and soul of each community.”

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