By Chelle Delaney: QCS Associate Publisher
The opening of a new hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, has created 15 new jobs in Tucumcari. And when it gets into full swing, it’s expected to provide five additional jobs, said hotelier Neil Patel.
The 80-unit hotel opened April 20 and has gradually been picking up overnight traffic as the early summer travelers begin vacationing, Patel said.
“It’s been good, better than expected,” Patel said.
Patel, who is the partner in the SMB Hospitality, LCC which owns the hotel, expects to have invested in the coming years between $12 and $15 million on three adjacent lots at Estrella and Adams streets at the First Street exit on I-40, he said.
In addition to the Holiday Inn, site preparation has begun on a planned LaQuinta Inn and there are plans to have a restaurant also, Patel said.
So far, there’s been interest from several franchises, but nothing definite has developed for an eatery, he said
There’s also the possibility that he would build to suit and then lease to an investor who wants to open an restaurant or has worked out a deal with a franchisor.
In the meantime, Patel and his wife, Rekha, who grew up in Tucumcari and is a 1991 Tucumcari High School alum, are putting the final polish on their new hotel product.
And it was Rekha’s brother, Nitin Bhakrta, who was the hotel’s contractor.
“We do it all together. It is a family business,” said Rekha Patel.
Their properties include a Hampton Inn that’s to be completed in July in Santa Rosa, a Best Western in Lubbock, Texas, and other properties in Tucumcari, including the Hampton Inn, Super 8, Budget Inn and the Travel Lodge.
Rekha Patel is also serving as the hotel’s interior designer. It’s also evident she has borrowed from her Indian heritage. Fabrics and accents include some metal and there is a blend of oyster and celery colors with dark wood and leather tones in the attractive furnishings.
The Holiday Inn has certain standards that they expect from franchisees, and she decorates accordingly, said Rekha Patel.
A multi-story building, the hotel’s amenities include a breakfast bar, heated pool, sauna, exercise room, recreational room, with pool table, a conference room to accommodate 30 to 50 people, are all under one roof.
With New Mexico’s windy weather, and swift climate changes, Patel said the all-interior design is more attractive to travelers as well as locals who may want to host weddings, family reunions and other events at the hotel. It also provides guests with more security, he said.
“It’s also easier on the staff to get their work done,” Patel said.
But that doesn’t exclude all exterior activities. There’s an outdoor gazebo, a basketball hoop and, in the future, there will be a putting green, Patel said.
A trend in the hotel industry, the all-interior design is what is becoming Holiday Inn’s mainstay, Patel said.
It’s also why the Holiday Inn moved it’s franchise from the Tucumcari Boulevard location to the new one at Estrella, Patel said.
I-40’s Exit 332 at First Street has now attracted several new restaurants in the last year and there are also other hotel and motel properties.
Why this exit and not another along the interstate?
Patel said the restaurants, which also cater to local residents, have wanted to be closer to the concentration of Tucumcari’s residential properties.
In late May, the Patels said they plan to have the hotel’s official opening in conjunction with the Quay/Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce.