Momentary fancy, years of work create new hotel |

Momentary fancy, years of work create new hotel

John Seelmeyer

Fooling around on the Internet a few years ago, Sarvpreet S Bains typed “I want to build a hotel” into a lodging industry Web site.

Less than five minutes later, he had a response from a hotel franchise executive who happened to be in Reno.

And nearly five years later, Bains and his brother, Sarvjeet S Bains, have their hotel, a new 59-room Comfort Inn and Suites that opened in October at 1250 E. Plumb Lane.

Along the way, the brothers:

* Bought a location a parcel of vacant land near a CostCo store and got it rezoned to allow construction of a hotel.

* Hammered out a franchise agreement with Choice Hotels International, the parent company of Comfort Inn and Suites, after fruitless talks with the franchising executive from another company who’d responded so quickly to his e-mail.

* And Sarvpreet Bains educated himself about hotel operations the hard way, by taking jobs at lodging properties around town and watching how they worked.

“There have been a lot of learning experiences,” Bains says. “And I’d love to do it again.”

He wasn’t entirely a neophyte to the hotel industry or to working hard.

For two decades, Bains had worked as a cook and a chef in Reno-area hotels. Between shifts, he helped out in the convenience stores owned by his family. His workdays typically ran 12 to 14 hours.

But as the brothers waited to close on his purchase of the hotel property, waited for a decision on his zoning request, and waited for construction to get under way, Sarvpreet Bains decided to use the time to educate himself on front-of-the-house hotel operations.

While he worked in front-desk and customer-service positions at other hotels, he developed the management philosophy that he puts into place with the 11 employees of Comfort Inn and Suites: “Treat them well, and they will treat you well.”

Since the hotel opened, the brothers continue to work long days 12 hours is common, 14 hours is no big deal as they seek to treat business travelers so well in the evening that they’ll become repeat customers.

Almost every day also finds Sarvpreet Bains on the streets, making calls on four or five businesses that might use the hotel’s small conference facility or send some business travelers his way.

Another reason for the long workdays: “I want to keep in touch with my employees,” Bains says.

While the hotel a few blocks from Reno-Tahoe International Airport is one of a handful of airport-area properties that target business travel, more competition is coming. A 127-room Hyatt Place hotel, for instance, is planned for mid-2008 completion on airport-owned land at Plumb Lane and Terminal Way.

More hotels in the airport area, Sarvpreet Bains says, will improve the neighborhood’s visibility among travelers.