|By Drew Brooks, The Fayetteville
Observer, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April. 18, 2009 - In a vote a confidence for Fayetteville's economic prospects, the company that owns the Holiday Inn Bordeaux has purchased the Holiday Inn I-95 and plans a $2 million renovation.
Aroma Hotels announced Friday the purchase of the 198-room hotel on Cedar Creek Road.
Dipak Thakker, who founded Aroma Hotels with Vijay Gudiseva four years ago, said the hotel and land was bought for $8.25 million. Their Maryland-based company will spend two years doing the upgrades.
It has been at least seven years since the hotel was renovated, Thakker said. The hotel will get new furniture, carpeting, electronics, bedding and signs.
Thakker said local labor and vendors would be used.
Aroma Hotels has had a presence in Fayetteville since 2007, when it purchased the Holiday Inn Bordeaux for $10.25 million. The company invested $4 million in the nearly 300-room hotel on renovations that were similar to what's in store for the I-95 location.
"We are committed to investing money in this town," Thakker said. "It's a great community."
The Holiday Inn I-95 will operate as a sister property to the Holiday Inn Bordeaux, Thakker said.
Both hotels have convention space and restaurants, but Thakker said the I-95 hotel will rely more on corporate clients and leisure travelers.
Combined, the two hotels will have nearly 500 rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Thakker said that he and Gudiseva jumped at the opportunity to buy the Holiday Inn I-95 when it hit the market. Built in 1982, the property has a tax value of almost $6.5 million.
Despite an ailing national economy, he said, the company is optimistic that Fayetteville will be insulated from the bulk of the problems.
"We don't foresee a downturn," he said. "We are very confident that we'll be just fine."
John Meroski, president and chief executive officer of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said statistics show that Fayetteville is weathering the economic downturn better than most cities.
He said lodging occupancy rates are down 7 percent since January, but that compares favorably to a statewide average downturn of 15 percent to 20 percent.
"Fayetteville and Cumberland County is fortunate right now to be holding their own," Meroski said.
He said the Holiday Inns, now united under the same owner, would be able to work together to keep business -- such as conventions -- in this city when space may not be available at one location.
He also applauded the renovations. He said the hotels along I-95 often serve as a gateway to the rest of the city.
One bad experience there, he said, and the whole market suffers.
"Anytime we can make investments ... we all win," he said.
Staff writer Drew Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3567.
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