The Wall Street Journal
By Kate Betts

Once he got his diploma from the University of Tennessee, it took Ben Weprin only 48 hours to pack up his Toyota Camry and move to Chicago. “I had wanted to start making deals in the real world since ninth grade,” said the Chicago-based CEO and founder of AJ Capital Partners, a hotel development firm. Now 37, Mr. Weprin still looks more like a frat boy than an executive reinventing stodgy hangouts like the Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France in St. Bart’s or the Malliouhana Resort in Anguilla, both of which he restored and relaunched (he later sold the Isle de France to the LVMH group).

For his most ambitious project, Mr. Weprin is revisiting his university days. Graduate Hotels, a group of affordable properties, are popping up in college towns across the country, including Oxford, Miss.; Athens, Ga.; and Madison, Wis. Targeting parents in town to visit their scholarly (or not-so-scholarly) offspring, all are furnished with nods to the local alma mater.

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