Auburn Alabama Hotels

Camp War Eagle Experience

Check Rates & Dates

photo gallery

Join Our Mailing List


Hotel News

Read the latest news from our Auburn, AL hotel. Stay up to date with Hotel at Auburn news, events and happenings here


AU Hotel unveils gingerbread village


Holiday spirit was in the air Thursday night at the Auburn Hotel and Conference Center for the unveiling of the 2012 Holiday Gingerbread Village.

In addition to the unveiling, the annual special event included the official lighting of the hotel's tree and star, live performances by a bell choir, a visit from a special holiday teddy bear, and complimentary hot cocoa and cider in the lobby.

"We've been doing this for five years now," said managing director Hans van der Reijden. "It's become a tradition here in town and every year we get one building in addition to what we had before."

Every year the hotel teams up with the students of AU's McWhorter School of Building Science to create a replica of a building on campus out of gingerbread.

The process of building those models usually takes about a month.

Copyright 2012 WTVM.

View The Video Here

The Hotel at Auburn University to celebrate holidays with upcoming events

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:43 pm | Updated: 12:56 pm, Wed Nov 21, 2012. 

The Hotel at Auburn University will celebrate the upcoming holiday season with the unveiling of the Auburn Gingerbread Village, Teddy Bear Tea, Italian holiday cooking classes, a special Christmas Dinner, and a festive New Year’s Eve celebration. 

Gingerbread Village

The Hotel at Auburn University’s holiday season will kick off with the annual unveiling of its gingerbread village on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. After the hotel’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, guests will be invited inside to celebrate the beginning of the season with complimentary hot cider and cocoa, snacks and the holiday sounds of a bell choir. The hotel will then unveil the gingerbread village. The Cary Center will be this year’s addition, and it will join the University Chapel, the Auburn Depot, Cater Hall, Hargis Hall, Langdon Hall, and The Hotel at Auburn University to form the miniature Auburn gingerbread village. The Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies is a newly formed academic center in the Auburn University College of Human Sciences that promotes financial and philanthropic responsibility and nonprofit leadership.

Teddy Bear Tea

Children and parents are invited to Piccolo, inside the hotel, on Dec. 15, 16, 19, 20, 21 and 22. Children are encouraged to bring their favorite teddy bears and gather around the fireplace for sandwiches, sweets, cookies, tea and hot cocoa. Refreshments will also be available for parents. A real live teddy bear and Christmas elf, from the Auburn University Theatre Department, will provide entertainment. The teddy bear will pose for pictures with fans, while Santa’s elf will sing holiday songs with the children and read stories in front of the fireplace. The price of the Teddy Bear Tea is $25 per person, and children will receive a bear to take home. For additional information about the Teddy Bear Tea, call Allison Duke at (334) 321-3181.

Holiday Tour d’Italia

Ariccia’s Holiday Tour d’Italia Cooking Classes will take place on Dec. 5, 12 and 19. The class will give students hands-on instruction on preparing some of Italy’s favorite holiday foods. The holiday class will also feature a mixology lesson. Attendees will be able to sample their creations, which will be paired with select wines. At the end of the evening, revelers will receive a holiday basket containing some Italian and Ariccia-made goodies. The price for the December classes is $125 per person, including tax and gratuity, and can be reserved individually or for groups of up to 10. To reserve a cooking class, call Joice Milare at (334) 321-3179.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Ariccia Trattoria & Bar and Piccolo

Celebrate the season at Ariccia Trattoria & Bar with special dinners on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A three-course dinner with optional wine pairings will be available from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve and from 2 to 9 p.m. on Christmas Day. The three-course meal includes Seafood Soup, Char-grilled Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Duexelle, Olive Oil Poached Salmon Fillet and more. The price for the dinner is $45 per person. There will also be a kid-friendly menu available. In Piccolo on December 24 and 25, visitors can sample special holiday small bites and Christmas cocktails. Reservations are recommended for the dinners in Ariccia and can be made by calling (334) 844-5140.

New Year’s Eve at the Hotel at Auburn University

The hotel will celebrate the new year with a special dinner at Ariccia, live music in Piccolo, and an overnight stay at the hotel. The evening begins with a five-course dinner in Ariccia at 7 p.m. The price of the dinner is $75 per person and includes a champagne toast at midnight in Piccolo. After dinner, guests are invited to Piccolo for an evening of live jazz that will begin at 9 p.m. Once the New Year has been celebrated, guests can ride the elevator home with the hotel’s special $99 room rate including breakfast for two in Ariccia the next morning. To make reservations for any of the New Year’s Eve events, call Rachael Hamilton at (334) 321-3127.

For more information about any of the holiday events taking place at The Hotel at Auburn University, Ariccia Trattoria & Bar, or Piccolo, call (334) 821-8200 or visit or

News 3 Midday Kitchen: Oktoberfest at Ariccia

By: Tammy Terry | Chef Garry Anderson, Ariccia Trattoria

Published: September 20, 2012 Updated: September 20, 2012 - 12:55 PM


Bengal tiger cubs kick off AU football home opener

A distinct roar could be heard coming from the crowd at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, and it didn’t belong to any of the hundreds of fans that turned out there Friday.

The roars were those of Fatima and Ceylon, a pair of 10-week-old Bengal tiger cubs that visited the hotel courtesy of the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo to help kick off the Auburn Tigers’ first home game this weekend.

For a donation, fans got a chance to pose and play with the 15-pound cubs that, once mature, could weigh more than four hundred pounds apiece.

“We’re excited to be able to bring the tiger cubs to the hotel and allow fans to have up close encounters with them,” said Hans van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University.

Equally excited was Kim McDaniel who attended Friday’s event with her father, Sandy, and 4-year-old daughter Kameryn, who got her picture taken with one of the tiger cubs.

“It was awesome…and they were absolutely adorable,” McDaniel said. “To realize how little they are right now but how big and powerful they will become is pretty impressive.”

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo officials have been caring for the brother and sister tiger cubs since they were three weeks old after receiving them from the Florida-based Marcan Tiger Preserve.

While the day was exciting for fans who lined up around the building waiting to get in, zoo head keeper Cyndi Johnson said the future of the Bengal tiger species isn’t as bright.

“Bengal tigers will be extinct in the wild within the next seven to 10 years,” said Johnson, a condition arising from loss of habitat and poaching. “The tigers in captivity right now are all we’re ever going to see.”

Zoo Director Patti Hall said there are currently more Bengal tigers living in captivity than there are in the wild. Hall estimates that there are as few as 3,000 Bengal tigers living in the wild, compared to the 7,000 living in zoos and sanctuaries worldwide.

Fatima and Ceylon, who are named after Indian cities, will remain at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which currently has two Siberian and four Bengal tigers as part of its permanent collection, for the next few months or until they reach about 35 pounds, at which time they will be transferred to another facility.

All donations made by fans at Friday’s event will go to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which is raising funds for the construction of a new $25 million, completely green facility.

Auburn fans can enjoy litany of events on Friday

By: OANow Staff Opelika-Auburn News 

Friday is chock-full of events for Auburn University football fans awaiting the team’s home opener against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.

For those who can’t wait to see the Tigers take the field Saturday, The Hotel at Auburn University will have a couple of real tigers to satisfy fans in the meantime.

Fatima and Ceylon, two 11-week-old tiger cubs from the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, will appear in the hotel lobby Friday afternoon. Fans can play with the tigers and have their photos taken with them on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We are so excited to be able to bring the tiger cubs to the hotel and to allow Auburn fans to have up-close encounters with them,” Hans van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University, said in a news release. “Not only is this a unique opportunity for Tiger fans to see these animals in person, it also serves as a fundraiser to assist with the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo’s expansion efforts, which will result in a completely green facility.”

For Auburn fans who want to experience a different part of the animal kingdom, the Southeastern Raptor Center will host its “Football, Fans and Feathers” program. The educational program features hawks, falcons and eagles free-flown from flight towers.

The university will also kick off its Game Day Lecture Series with Auburn University professor Karla Simmons as the lecturer. Simmons’ lecture will be on how the Auburn Department of Consumer Affairs has partnered with Under Armour for research.

The “Football, Fans and Feathers” program and the Game Day Lecture Series will both be held each Friday before home football games.

Later Friday evening, downtown Auburn will host the first Downtown AUtumn Night of the season. The event will feature live music, university mascot Aubie, and the Auburn band and cheerleaders.

The event is a collaboration among the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, the city of Auburn, the Auburn University Athletics Department, and the downtown merchants and Auburn Alumni associations.

The second Downtown AUtumn Night of the season will be on Nov. 16, the day before the home game against Alabama A&M.

If You Go

» Tiger cubs at The Hotel at Auburn University, 241 S. College St.; 3-6 p.m.; donation suggested

» Game Day Lecture Series; Goodwin Room of the Auburn Alumni Center, 317 S. College Street; 4 p.m.; free

» “Football, Fans and Feathers”; 1350 Pratt-Carden Drive (or 1350 Raptor Road); 4 p.m.; $5 admission, children under 3 are free

» AUtumn Night; Toomer’s Corner in downtown Auburn; 6-9:30 p.m.; free

Tiger Cubs for Tiger Fans

Nikolett Juhasz
The Corner News
Published: September 12, 2012 4:21:37 pm

Before watching the Tigers play the first home game of the season, Auburn fans have a chance to play with tigers themselves. The Hotel at Auburn University is presenting the Tiger Cub Kick Off event on Friday, Sep. 14, during which attendees can play with two real Bengal tiger cubs.

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is bringing two of its tiger cubs, Fatima and Ceylon, to the hotel for the event. The animals will be in the lobby from 3-6 p.m. Hotel guests and Auburn fans are welcome to pet, play and take pictures with the cubs.

Andreas Anagnostopoulos, manager of Piccolo Bar and Lounge at the hotel, has worked with the zoo to arrange the visit. Though the animals don’t generally travel far from home, the zoo has made an exception.

“This is the farthest the tigers have ever traveled,” Anagnostopoulos said. “We are excited to have them come.”

The tiger cubs are a sibling pair and are both between 11 and 12 weeks old.

“That is something I’m really excited about for our guests,” Anagnostopoulos said. “Once you get them in that in-between period, they are really playful. They like to be pet and hugged.”


Though the event is free, those wanting to take a picture with Ceylon and Fatima are being asked to make a donation. All profits from the event are benefiting the zoo. The zoo is raising money to build new, green facilities. The new location will include solar panels, a personal water source and the ability to produce its own electricity, in case of storms.

“They are actually relocating a couple of miles up the road so they don’t actually have to evacuate all their animals the next time there is a hurricane or a tropical storm or depression in the Gulf,” Anagnostopoulos said.

In the past, the zoo has had to evacuate all animals from the premises because water from such storms reached the zoo at its current location. It has been dubbed “The Little Zoo that Could” by the Animal Planet and was the subject of a show aired on the channel.

“We want to be able to support a worthy cause, and then at the same time it’s something for our package holders who are coming in for the first home game,” Tim Aylsworth, director of sales and marketing, said. “It gives them a new experience, something that they haven’t seen before.”

Those wanting to play with the tigers are encouraged to arrive at the event early. Meeting the tigers will be on a first come, first serve basis. For additional information on the event, visit the hotel’s Facebook page at

AU Hotel Kicks off the Football Home Opener with a Roar

AUBURN, AL (September 7, 2012) – Auburn University Football fans should head to The Hotel at Auburn University on Friday, September 14th to meet, play and take photos with real, live tiger cubs. From 3-6 p.m., Auburn supporters can play with and pose with Fatima and Ceylon, two 11-week old tiger cubs from the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. There is no cost to see the tigers; guests are asked to give a donation in order to hold the tiny tigers and have pictures taken with them. Photos will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All money raised during the event will benefit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. For additional information about the Tiger Cub Kick Off event, please call 334-821-8200.

“We are so excited to be able to bring the tiger cubs to the hotel and to allow Auburn fans to have up close encounters with them,” said Hans van der Reijden, Managing Director of The Hotel at Auburn University. “Not only is this a unique opportunity for Tiger fans to see these animals in person, it also serves as a fundraiser to assist with the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo’s expansion efforts, which will result in a completely green facility.”

The tiger cub viewing area will be set up in the lobby, by the main doors to the hotel. Tiger fans are encouraged to arrive early since the photos will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. The hotel will have a photographer onsite to take pictures, but attendees may take their own as well. Photos will be posted online so they can be downloaded and printed. For additional information and to view some of the shots, please visit the hotel’s Facebook page at 

Elise Mitchell wins 2012 Best Mom essay contest

By: Elise Mitchell Opelika-Auburn News 

Words cannot express exactly why my mom, Kathy Mitchell, is the BEST mom in East Alabama — Her actions show and tell it all. My mom is always there for me and my two sisters. Behind a GREAT kid is a GREAT mom and THAT IS OUR MOM! My sisters and I are very involved in lots of activities and she is always supportive in anything we do. She was always our room mom when we were younger and is the mom everyone calls on if they need something done. My mom taught in the school System for 4 years and all the students loved my mom. Even today when she sees one of her former students, they will run up to her and say, “Hey Mrs. Mitchell!” She is always very glad to see them and they know it.  My mom makes us and everyone feel very good about themselves. They always tell her how nice she was to them and how much they miss her.   If she were still there, the students would love her — SHE WAS LIKE A MOM TO ALL OF THEM TOO!!!   Even if my mom is busy and tired from a hard day at work, she will sit down with me and my sisters and play a game—she always says, “the memories we are making are more important than anything.” My mother’s love for us is like nothing else in the world.

Now you can see why I said … words cannot express exactly why my mom is the BEST mom in East Alabama — LIKE I SAID HER ACTIONS SHOW AND TELL IT ALL!!!

The Opelika-Auburn News, The Hotel at Auburn University and Ariccia Trattoria and Bar would like to thank everyone who participated in the Best Mom in East Alabama contest. We would also like to wish every mother in East Alabama a Happy Mother’s Day.

Hope from Hager

Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, delighted the record-crowd gathered Monday, April 23 for the Women's Philanthropy Board 10th Anniversary Spring Symposium and Luncheon at Auburn University with her own stories of how compassion can make a difference in someone's life.

As a contributing correspondent for NBC's Today, Hager has focused on telling the inspiring stories of everyday people doing great things across the country.

Since graduating from the University of Texas, Hager has also become a UNICEF volunteer and author. Additionally, she has worked at an inner-city school in Washington, D.C.

In 2006, Hager traveled to Latin America as an intern with UNICEF and was inspired to write "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope." The New York Times bestseller is based on the life of a 17-year-old single mother living with HIV who is determined to shield her child from the abuse and neglect that riddled her own childhood. Hager also co-wrote, "Read All about It!" with her mother to encourage children to read.

She remains actively involved with UNICEF, currently serving as chair of UNICEF's Next Generation, an initiative dedicated to reducing the number of preventable childhood deaths around the world.

The 10th annual symposium featured Allison Black Cornelius, the principal consultant for Blackfish Strategies, a leadership development firm in Birmingham, for more than 20 years. She is known for her work on public policy relating to families, such as Megan's Law, Alabama's Constitutional Amendment for Victim's Rights, and the legislation that created the Alabama Department of Children's Affairs.

Cecilia Remy, Vice President Retirement Outcome Specialist for Merrill Lynch, and Rich Golod, director of global investment strategies for Invesco, shared their expertise with faculty, students and other guests.

Sandy and Don Logan and Carol and Frank Morsani discussed their philanthropic efforts. Sandy Logan is the founding president of Auburn's WPB, while Carol Morsani is the founding president of the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Program at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Both women and their husbands remain active philanthropists throughout their local communities and beyond.

Aprilfest to cater to Alabama’s growing love for craft beer

Amber Meredith
For The Corner News
Published: April 12, 2012 10:48:42 am 

Beer enthusiasts in the Auburn area can look forward to Friday, April 27 when the Hotel at Auburn University will host a celebration of craft beers at its second annual Aprilfest event.

Aprilfest, a play on Germany’s Oktoberfest, will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and will showcase a variety of independent microbreweries, including six from Alabama and several other national and international breweries.

Guests can enjoy live entertainment at the event, which will take place around the hotel’s outdoor pool and inside the Terrace Room. Several brewers and representatives from the breweries will be at the hotel to talk with guests, and a selection of small bite pairings prepared by Chef Leonardo Maurelli III and the hotel’s sous chefs and staff will be provided at various stations throughout the hotel. 

Aprilfest will specifically highlight microbreweries, breweries that produce a limited amount of beer and are associated by consumers with innovation and uniqueness. 

According to data released by the Brewers Association, a trade association that represents craft brewers, craft beer is catching on in the U.S. as its annual sales and volumes have increased from last year.

“The production of craft beer is blowing up, especially in this region,” said Mathew Mokler, a beer representative of Birmingham Beverage Co./Alabev. “In the last four years, six breweries have opened up in Alabama, which many people are not aware of.”

The six Alabama breweries that will be featured at Aprilfest include Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer Brewing from Huntsville, Avondale Brewing Co. and Good People Brewing Co. from Birmingham, Back Forty Beer Co. from Gadsden and Blue Pants Brewery from Madison.

Other breweries that will be featured include SweetWater Brewing Co. from Atlanta, Wild Heaven Craft Beers from Decatur, Ga., Clipper City Brewing Co. from Baltimore, Bell’s Brewery from Kalamazoo, Mich., and Innis & Gunn from Edinburgh, Scotland. More breweries may be scheduled to attend the event.

The founder of Wild Heaven Craft Beers and the two founders of Good People Brewing Co., the most popular brewery in Alabama, are all Auburn graduates, according to Mokler.

“Bell’s is the most popular brewery of the bunch, especially nationally,” Mokler said. “They have some of the highest rated beers in the world, and spring is officially here once you have your first Oberon Ale.”

The Hotel at Auburn University had its own Oktoberfest this past fall, but created Aprilfest to highlight the lighter craft beers that are offered in the spring and summer.

“As the seasons, change, so does the beer selection most people drink,” Mokler said. “During winter, you’re going to drink darker, heavier beer. We’re leaving the stout phase and going to the pilsners, the lighter beers, the wheat beers, the flavored beers.”

In addition to the wide variety of craft beer selections, guests can enjoy various hors d’oeuvres and finger foods at Aprilfest. Some food selections include famous Caja China roasted whole pig, Apalachicola raw oysters, tuna crudo, ceviche, brisket sliders on milk bread and homemade mustards and sausages.

Tickets for Aprilfest are $45 and may be purchased in advance in the executive office of the Hotel at Auburn University or on the day of the event depending on availability. For more information about the event, you may contact the hotel at 334.321.3179 or Mathew Mokler via email at mmokler@ala

2nd AprilFest to include 24 regional craft beers

By: Special to the News Opelika-Auburn News 

The second annual AprilFest at The Hotel at Auburn University is Friday, April 27. From 5:30 to 8 p.m., craft beer enthusiasts can gather in the Terrace Room and around the pool to sample 24 craft beers paired with dishes created by Ariccia Chef de Cuisine Leonardo Maurelli III.

Musical entertainment will be provided by Patrick Bruce, and guests will also be able to watch live cooking demonstrations and meet the hotel’s culinary team. Tickets for the event are $45 per person and can be purchased Monday through Friday at The Hotel at Auburn University and also at the door, based on availability. For additional information about the event, call Claire Posey at 334-321-3179.

The following breweries from Alabama and Georgia will be providing samples of their craft beers: Back Forty Beer Company, Straight to Ale, Avondale, Good People Brewing Company, Blue Pants Brewery, Yellowhammer, SweetWater, Innis and Gunn, Wild Heaven, Heavy Seas and Bells. Each beer will be paired with a creative small plate. Highlights from the menu include: Caja China Roasted Whole Pig, Brisket Sliders on Milk Bread, Apalachicola Raw Oysters, Tuna Crudo, Ceviche, Pork Belly Cornbread, and homemade mustards and sausages.


The Hotel at Auburn University featured in Society South

The March- April issue of Society South features a 9 page spread of shots taken through out the Hotel at Auburn University. Visit Society South's website for more information about the magazine!

Gambling for Charity

Destiny Brown
The Corner News
Published: February 1, 2012 2:19:50 pm

Think you’re ready for a night of rolling dice, throwing cards and dancing? Vegas style? Well, all bets are on! The Hotel at Auburn University will be hosting the fifth-annual “Calling All Aces” charity event at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4.

All profits will be donated to charities of the Lee County Kiwanis Club, including DARE, the Child Advocacy Center, Reading is Fundamental, the Literacy Coalition, the East Alabama Foodbank, Mercy Medical, Lee County Red Cross, the Boy Scouts, Robert Ham Christmas, the Partnership for Lee County, and the American Cancer Society.

The casino games will include Vegas favorites such as craps, roulette and blackjack. Live music will be provided by D’SYRE. Participants will “cash in” at the end of the night's festivities to receive prizes. 

The event will also have a martini bar and food.

“The Hotel at Auburn University is proud to host ‘Calling All Aces’ as the event provides a night of entertainment that benefits many wonderful local charities and organizations,” said Hans van der Reijden, managing director of the Hotel at Auburn University. “It is such a joy to see the people of Auburn come together to help raise funds for our local programs. In previous years, the event has raised more than $50,000, and we hope to raise even more in 2012.” 

Tickets are $100 per person or $900 per table of 10, and they include dinner and gambling. To purchase tickets or for additional information, call Taylor Britton at (334) 444-1225 or Mandy Harrelson at (334) 663-3254) or visit

The Hotel wins Readers Choice Award

The Hotel at Auburn University recieved the Annual Readers Choice Award from Convention South. The Hotel was given the award for exhibiting excellence, creativity and professionalism in the meetings and conventions industry.

Test Your Luck at the Fifth-Annual “Calling All Aces”

AUBURN, AL (January 27, 2012) – All bets are on!  Get ready to roll the dice at the fifth-annual “Calling All Aces” charitable event at the Hotel at Auburn University on Saturday, February 4, 2012.  Starting at 7 p.m., guests are invited to a night of Vegas-style entertainment that includes craps, roulette, blackjack, and live music by D’SYRE.  Players will be able to “cash in” at the end of the night for a chance to win some great prizes.  To up the ante, a martini bar and tasty food will also be provided.  Tickets are $100 per person or $900 per table of ten, and they include dinner and gambling.  To purchase tickets or for additional information, call Taylor Britton at (334) 444-1225 or Mandy Harrelson at (334) 663-3254) or visit

This annual event is hosted by the Lee County Kiwanis Club.  Proceeds from the night will benefit local charities, including DARE, the Child Advocacy Center, Reading is Fundamental, the Literacy Coalition, the East Alabama Foodbank, Mercy Medical, Lee County Red Cross, the Boy Scouts, Robert Ham Christmas, the Partnership for Lee County, and the American Cancer Society.

“The Hotel at Auburn University is proud to host ‘Calling All Aces’ as the event provides a night of entertainment that benefits many wonderful local charities and organizations,” said Hans van der Reijden, Managing Director of the Hotel at Auburn University.  “It is such a joy to see the people of Auburn come together to help raise funds for our local programs.  In previous years, the event has raised more than $50,000, and we hope to raise even more in 2012.”

The Hotel at Auburn University will also offer a special room rate of $119 Saturday night for attendees who would like to ride the elevator home.  To reserve a room, please call (334) 821-8200.

Information Source: Hotel at Auburn University

Public will now vote on War Eagle Wedding dress

With a winner chosen for Auburn University’s War Eagle Wedding, continued public voting will determine certain aspects of the wedding itself, including the style of invitations, cake and the bride’s gown.

Slade Ponder, 23, and Katie Oliver, 24, both of Valley, were chosen as the competition’s winners through online voting.

Of the 20,525 online votes cast between Jan. 5 and Jan. 18, Ponder and Oliver received 9,992, said Teresa Whitman-McCall, director of campus and community events.

Ponder said the couple campaigned for votes using social media, email and with support from business organizations where he has worked. He said they are ecstatic with the results and feel blessed.

Like other aspects of the wedding, Oliver’s gown choice is now in the hands of the public. Beginning Monday, voters will have the chance to pick one of three gowns designed by advanced apparel design students within the College of Human Sciences at AU.

“They’re all three beautiful, so I would be honored to wear any of them,” Oliver said. “They all kind of look like me.”

Oliver said she has seen miniature models of each of the three dresses she might be wearing when she says “I do.” She said they are all elegant ball gowns, but each one is different. One has off-the-shoulder straps, one has lace and another has beading and pearls.

Pamela Ulrich, professor in consumer affairs, and Lenda Connell, selected the three War Eagle Wedding gown designs from a class competition. They chose the dresses based on appeal to the age group of the War Eagle Wedding bride, overall design and wearability.

Oliver will be fit for the dress using a full body-scan machine developed by Textile Clothing Technology Corp., Ulrich said. The machine is the size of a dressing room with black walls and multiple cameras.

The body scanner derives body measurements from the scan more accurately than by hand. The person to be measured must wear form-fitting clothing, as the machine only captures an outline of the form, unlike body scanners in airports.

“The person just stands there,” Ulrich said. “It’s not like an X-ray; you don’t have to hold your breath.”

From Oliver’s measurements, Tang’s Alterations & Designs in Montgomery will create a pattern, construct a gown from the winning design and do all the fittings for the bride-to-be.

In addition to the wedding gown, all will be able to vote on bridesmaid dress options created by apparel design students.

The all-inclusive wedding sponsored by The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, the Opelika-Auburn News and WRBL News 3 will take place May 26 on the lawn of AU’s iconic Samford Hall.

Voting begins for War Eagle Wedding hors d'oeuvres

Published: Monday, February 13, 2012, 11:35 AM     Updated: Monday, February 13, 2012, 11:36 AM

AUBURN, Alabama -- War Eagle Wedding bride Katie Oliver now knows the type of bouquet she will toss at her May 26 wedding, and voting began today on the hors d'oeuvres.

 Voters selected the "Wedded Bliss" bouquet designed by Opelika Floral Company Inc. in online balloting that began Feb. 6 and  ended today at 8 a.m. (See photo in gallery here.)

Voting for the hors d'oeuvres started today at 10 a.m.

There are three options, created by The Hotel at Auburn University.

Group 1 includes aged cheddar pimento cheese on crostinis and Southern chicken salad on cornbread croutons.

Group 2 includes steak frites with onion jam and fried risotto balls.

Group 3 includes antipasto brochettes and stuffed new potatoes with chive, aged cheddar and crème fraiche.

Oliver and her fiancé, Slade Ponder, were selected as the War Eagle Wedding couple over two other couples after a public, online vote. The couple will receive an expenses-paid wedding on the lawn of Auburn's Samford Hall on May 26. In exchange, they agreed to abide by selections made in public, online voting on a number of wedding details that would otherwise have been left to their discretion – including the bride and bridesmaid dresses, flowers, food served at the reception, etc.

Next week, voting for the wedding cake will take place.

To view the article please visit

You can vote at

Chef Leo featured in Auburn's Take 5

Leonardo Maurelli

Special events and catering chef
The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center

Leonardo Maurelli is fluent in Spanish, having grown up in the Republic of Panama. He learned English in Panama schools and "Southern" English after the family immigrated to Alabama in 1991. His father wanted his children to have the opportunity to pursue an education in the United States. He picked Mobile, Ala., since he spent a considerable amount of time there while in the shipping business. Maurelli earned an associate's degree in computer design and drafting from Southeast Technical College in Mobile in 1997 and enrolled at Auburn University the following year. He earned a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management in 2003. Maurelli returned to campus in August 2009, when he became the special events and catering chef at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. His love of food and cooking is seen in the numerous special events he organizes for The Hotel throughout the year, often working with local craft brewers to develop unique menus for certain events. Maurelli was instrumental in working with Chef Michael Schwartz, 2010 James Beard Award winner, to organize the "Chefs to the Rescue" event at The Hotel in June 2011. The fundraiser benefited the American Red Cross in the wake of the April 2011 tornadoes that devastated Tuscaloosa and other Alabama cities. Local chefs were asked to work through their networks and get additional chefs to participate. Maurelli tapped Schwartz and Phil Colicchio, who he met at The Hotel in March 2011 for the annual Hospitality Gala. Colicchio, founder of Colicchio Consulting and Taylor, Colicchio & Silverman, and cousin of "Top Chef" co-host Tom Colicchio, contacted his friend, Chef Kevin Sbraga. The winner of "Top Chef" season seven accepted the invitation. A total of 24 chefs from Auburn and across the country helped at the event, which raised approximately $50,000 for tornado relief. Maurelli said the event also strengthened the camaraderie of all the chefs and created new friendships.In October 2011, Maurelli was honored at the Alabama Stars of the Industry Awards in Birmingham, Ala., as Chef of the Year.

1. You initially earned a degree in computer design and drafting. What inspired you to change directions and become a chef?

I started cooking professionally at age 14 and I have been working in restaurants' kitchens ever since. I worked as a restaurant manager while I was a student at Auburn to pay for classes. It was then that I realized my passion was not in architecture or working in the front of the house. I was the happiest in the kitchen, so I decided to change my major to hotel and restaurant management. I haven't looked back once.

2. In your position as special events and catering chef at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, you have developed a relationship with Alabama craft brewers and organized a number of events and menus inspired by the beers. What prompted you to work with craft brewers in this fashion?

The concept of Farm-to-Table, using fresh local ingredients and developing menus around them, started it all for me. I was amazed at how people were connecting so well to this concept and how it was taking off. It's funny to me, because in Alabama, Farm-to-Table is simply supper! My wife's family has been cooking Sunday supper from the bounties they harvested for generations. I found it interesting that so much focus was being directed toward a simple "country" way of life. I have also always been a beer fan, more so than wine. I relate to it better and enjoy it so much more. In my early stages of becoming a beer lover, I was guilty of admiring and drinking craft beer from overseas or from Oregon, California and Colorado. Then Free the Hops, a grassroots organization that aims to raise the alcohol and volume limits for beer in Alabama, changed the landscape of breweries in our state. Small, talented and passionate breweries began to open and I honestly felt like they did not have someone who was representing them with the same zeal they devoted to their product or giving them a "stage" or proper venue to showcase all the hard work and quality they were producing. So I decided to support Alabama's homemade product, support our craftsmen and brewers, and showcase not only their product but how to pair it with our great food as well. I wanted to develop that sense of family, and create something that would not only showcase our product, our city, but our state. We have amazing cuisine here, amazing artisans, and I wanted to do my part in getting the spotlight focused here.

3. What's the best advice you have for a student considering the Hotel and Restaurant Management program at Auburn University?

This business is so much more than hotels, resorts, country clubs and restaurants. I would say get out there before you graduate and get into the business. Experience it! Get your hands into as many different facets of it as you can. You never know what can happen once you try something new. You may have thought you wanted to be a caterer, and then you find out through an experience that your passion really lies in the party planning aspect and not the actual catering side. In this business, experience counts! Go out and get your hands dirty!

4. You met "Top Chef" season seven winner Kevin Sbraga at the Chefs to the Rescue event, which you helped organize. What do you think of reality TV shows like "Top Chef" and "Hell's Kitchen"? Do they help or hurt your industry?

I think shows like that are like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has helped turn chefs into "rock stars" and has shown the one percent of the people in our business who love to create and push the limits to always stay ahead of the curve. It has also generated major interest in what we do. But, I also think that as "real" as reality TV is, it does not truly portray the work, sacrifice and dedication the other 99 percent of chefs put into their daily jobs. These shows perpetuate the culture of "I want it all and I want it now" that our society is permeated with, rather than focusing on the patience, passion, respect, love, dedication and sacrifice it really takes to become a chef. The hard work and dedication and time it takes to reach the designation of "chef" are not properly portrayed.

5. If you could have a meal cooked by anyone in the world (dead or alive), who would it be and why?

To be honest, there have been so many amazing chefs throughout the ages - Auguste Escoffier, Jacques Pepin, Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, Julia Child, to name a few - that it makes it a difficult decision. If I was awarded a wish like this, I would rather cook for and sit down to enjoy a meal with these three gentlemen, as they are the people that I look up to as a chef: Pablo Picasso, because, besides being a genius, he was an innovator who was classically trained and who chose to forge a path all of his own, making him gutsy and inspiring to me; Salvador Dali, for being a mad genius, for not being afraid to be out there on his own and making "crazy" look and feel great; and Beethoven because he embodies the pursuit of excellence. I would love to have a 100th of the drive and willingness he had, the sheer dedication and realization of a God given talent!




June 2011.

Leonardo Maurelli

Special events and catering chef The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center



Nick Bowman

Cookie campus



Katherine Harding

Gingerbread campus expanding with four new buildings



Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau

Cooking classes to be held at Ariccia



Auburn Univeristy

Hotel at Auburn University employees win top honors at Alabama Stars of Industry gala



Tammy Terry

November Tour D'Italia with Chef Miguel Figueroa



Chris Pow

Iron Bowl of food drives begins Monday



WRLB News 3

Oktoberfest in Auburn



Becca Barganier

Auburn Hotel hosts first ever Oktoberfest


Special to the News

Auburn University hospitality program earns accreditation



Auburn Al

The Hotel at Auburn University Recieves 4.5 out of 5 Stars from Trip Advisor



Carla Nelson & Derek Lacey

Summer Wedding Edition



Katie Horn

Chefs to the Rescue' raises $50,000 for Alabama Tornado Relief


Carla Nelson

Alabama Beer Week: Celebrating Alabama’s beer culture


Kelly Rouse

Auburn University Hotel and Conference Center Partnered to create War Eagle Beer Dinner


The Corner News Interview

Chef's to the Rescue



Chefs Battle to be the Best at Auburn's Ariccia Tattoria & Bar



Natalie Wade

Couples can compete for 'War Eagle wedding' on Samford lawn with all the frills



Katie Horn

Chefs to the Rescue' raises $50,000 for Alabama tornado relief



Jaclyn Dunn

Taste craft beer with food parings at AprilFest



Wire Eagle

Auburn’s 2011 Hospitality Gala



Region News

Auburn booked up for BCS celebration


Year of Alabama

Piccolo’s live jazz is included in the Year of Alabama Music



Auburn's Ariccia Trattoria hosts Mother's Day brunch



Kent Faulk

Auburn hotels experience some cancellations from those who wanted to be in town for game



Lauren Schuster

Dine Like Shakespeare’s “Star-Crossed” Lovers



2 Good 2 be true: Piccolo's 2nd birthday celebration



The Corner News

Showcasing Singing Skills at Second "Auburn Idol"



Hotel at Auburn University Welcomes Tim Aylsworth as New DoSM



Hotel Online

The Hotel at Auburn University Welcomes Tim Aylsworth as New Director of Sales and Marketing


Fall 2010

East Alabama Living

An Auburn Oasis: The Terrace Room


Summer 2010

East Alabama Living

HRMT Hospitality Gala and Taylor Swift’s Surprise Concert



New Event Space at Hotel at Auburn, Partridge Inn and Ritz-Carlton San Francisco



Taylor Swift’s Surprise Concert Shows Off Auburn University’s Upgraded Auditorium



Hotel and Motel Management

Raising money while having a ball



AU Hotel Finalist for Quality Award


The Hotel at Auburn University Honored for Excellence



The Corner News

AU Hotel add outdoor space



Opelika Auburn News

The Hotel at Auburn University to add indoor-outdoor venue



The Hotel at Auburn U. Named 'Best All Around Hotel 2010'



RSVP Magazine

Two's Company: Make your Escape



Opelika-Auburn News

Hospitality Gala to feature award-winning chefs



Convention South

Hotel showcases Renovations with idol-styled competition


Spring 2010

East Alabama Living

Hotel at Auburn recieves the seven seals award



Opelika-Auburn News

Singers set to shine in city's first Auburn Idol



Opelika-Auburn News

Hotel at AU employees recive top honors



Corner News

Ariccia expands with intimate lounge area



The Auburn Plainsman

Piccolo jazz lounge premiers



Opelika-Auburn News

Piccolo, Located in Ariccia Trattoria & Bar to open on Aug.29



The Auburn Plainsman

New Menus Spice Local Eateries



Opelika-Auburn News

A Buffet, Sports and Sweetwater Beer Make Father's Day Complete at Ariccia Italian Trattoria & Bar



Hotel Executive

Auburn U Hotel Names Arif Kor Exec Assistant Manager F&B



Hotel Online

The Hotel at Auburn University Names Arif Kor as Executive Assistant Manager of Food and Beverage



Hotel Interactive

The Hotel at Auburn University Adds New F&B Manager



East Alabama Living

Ariccia's Herb Garden



Opelika-Auburn News

Mother's Day Essays



Opelika-Auburn News

Celebrate Mom with a Day Out of the Kitchen with Ariccia's Mother's Day Brunch



Opelika-Auburn News

Mother's Day Call to Action



Opelika-Auburn News

Behind the Scenes at Ariccia



Montgomery Advertiser

Soufflé Class Takes Mystery Out of Daunting Dish