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On the upswing
SoVaNow.com / March 16, 2017
Local officials and well-wishers offered praise and congratulations Wednesday morning to the family of Ankur Brahmbhatt, owner of the new Quality Inn on Seymour Drive, for their work to bring back an establishment that had fallen on hard times.
“This facility, as you all know, was going down the tubes,” said South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab during a ribbon-cutting on Wednesday to celebrate the revitalized hotel. “Thank God for this family.”
Brahmbhatt, owner of the Super 8 Motel on Bill Tuck Highway and other hotel properties in Farmville and Blackstone, acquired the former South Boston Motel and invested heavily to bring Quality Inn to South Boston. The Indian-heritage businessman, known by associates as “A.B.”, also owns a convenience store in the county as well as enterprises elsewhere.
“When A.B. came to me and said he was interested in buying this facility, I said ‘bless you,’” Raab said, reflecting the town’s interest in seeing the run-down property improved.
Brahmbhatt, in brief remarks to a crowd that huddled inside the hotel lounge, said he, his wife Disha and other family members were gratified by the reception they’ve received since purchasing the Super 8 in 2013 and relocating in town.
“The response from people here has been so nice,” he said, adding, “Why do you want to go to the big town when you have such quality in the small town?”
The 52-room Quality Inn has received a thorough makeover, including a new roof, security fence and updated furnishings. The hotel serves free continental breakfast, and Brahmbhatt hopes to find a proprietor to take the space that’s been renovated for a restaurant.
Owner completes turnaround of Seymour Drive hotel
‘Success does not come with shortcuts.”
Those words by Ankur Brahmbhatt, owner of the Quality Inn of South Boston, describe his plan for operating the area’s newest franchise motel. But they also speak to his commitment to invest in the community by turning around one of its cornerstone properties.
Many years ago, Best Western became the first hotel chain to expand to South Boston, with a location at the same 2001 Seymour Drive address where the Quality Inn stands today. The gleaming, business-class motel was a breakthrough for the community. But like so many things, it didn’t last.
The motel went through various stages of ownership, each seeming to bring a new level of decline. Last year, Brahmbhatt — better known among friends, customers and business associates as “A.B.” — bought the property. It needed a massive amount of upgrading, but it also represented an opportunity.
“We took it as a challenge,” he says.
On Wednesday, the Quality Inn of South Boston celebrated the grand opening of the fully-refurbished, 52-room hotel with a ribbon-cutting, refreshments for guests, and tours of the facility. Visitors got a peek at the continental breakfast area, outdoor pool, pool table lounge, and guest rooms that have been redone from top to bottom — from new Seeley and Serta mattresses for the beds to the modernized heating and cooling systems that provide comfort in any weather. The renovation includes many touches, large and small: free cable TV, WiFi internet and daily newspaper, and inside each room, 40-inch flat screen televisions, coffee makers, Bluetooth alarm clocks, refrigerators and microwave ovens. Some rooms offer massage chairs and full-disability access for handicapped guests. It’s also a pet-friendly establishment.
In other words, the Quality Inn is pleasant stop on any travel itinerary, an ideal choice for visiting family members or a race weekend (or week) to check out the action at South Boston Speedway or Virginia International Raceway. The new South Boston establishment upholds the standards for which Quality Inn is known — and then some.
“Everything we did had to meet the requirements of a Quality Inn franchise,” explains Brahmbhatt. “But if we had the opportunity to buy some items that are a little higher quality, we didn’t hesitate. We went above and beyond.”
Brahmbhatt, his wife Disha and members of their family oversee the daily operation of the hotel. One focus for Brahmbhatt has been the continental breakfast — “hot breakfast,” he emphasizes. The morning fare includes biscuits, sausage, gravy, eggs, make-your-own waffles, oatmeal, cereals, juices, fruit, yogurt, pastries and breads and, of course, coffee. The idea is to offer a complete meal for practically any dietary preference.
“There’s so much detail about breakfast — you want to be able to cover all kinds of customers,” Brahmbhatt says.
Most of all, he explains, the Quality Inn strives to be place where people can stay in comfort and with the peace of mind that comes with choosing a modern, attractive facility. Contractors have been busy for the past year doing a complete overhaul of the property, inside and out. (One new feature is a security fence around back to cordon off the steep hillside.) Aside from the basic structure that has always been there, the building is practically brand-new.
To get a sense of the challenges involved in bringing back the hotel, consider one early revelation: the discovery that the building needed a new roof. That turned out to be a $47,000 expenditure. “When you’ve got $3,000 or $4,000 items that you need to purchase, that’s one thing, but when you have a $47,000 item, that is quite unexpected,” says Brahmbhatt. As renovation work proceeded, the need to do more only seemed to grow. “We completely gutted out all of the rooms.”
Driving the process was a determination not to let the new Quality Inn be defined by the failures of the past.
“When we took over the property from the previous owners, there were a lot of problems,” he explains. “It was dark, the parking lot was scary, it was hard to envision any reason [to acquire it].” But Brahmbhatt took stock of the tourism and travel landscape in South Boston and Halifax County and thought the opportunity was there to build a solid business. As owner of three other hotel properties — in South Boston, Farmville and Blackstone — he knew what he was getting into. “You could count the good hotels in town on your fingers, and this place was not one of those hotels.”
Along with the grand opening Wednesday to celebrate the new inn, the Brahmbhatt family also invites folks to drop by on their own time to check out the changes there. The response he’s received so far encourages his belief that his investment will pay off. “When your customers come in, you feel proud when they tell you what an excellent job you did,” he says. “It’s a hard and tough road ahead, but we’re ready to find it.”
For more about the Quality Inn of South Boston, visit them on Facebook or call (434) 572-4311. Quality Inn® By Choice Hotels can be found online at http://www.choicehotels.com/QualityInn
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