|By Daniel Wagner, Newsday, Melville,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Sep. 21, 2006 - After 45 years in the hospitality business, a pioneering Long Island hotelier is calling it quits. Mel Goodman, whose Island Hospitality Corp. owns Econo Lodge franchises in Ronkonkoma, Bay Shore and Smithtown expects to close a sale today to North Bergen, N.J.-based Ratan Hospitality Group Llc.
Goodman, a Bellport resident and former president of the Long Island Hotel and Motel Association, said that when he built the Ronkonkoma hotel, his first, in 1961, "there were only two other things" on the Veterans Memorial Highway -- another motel and a gas station.
"Back then, when a car went by, we used to go, 'Whoopee!'" he said.
In those days, the Ronkonkoma site was called the Eden Rock Motel. Later, when he opened the Bay Shore and Smithtown facilities, he called them Summit Motor Inn and Smithtown Motor Lodge. But in the early 1990s, facing competition from national chains, he decided to establish his properties as franchises of what he called a "mid-scale economy" brand.
Goodman said he signed the sale contract with Ratan in July for one reason: "It's time to retire."
"We've been here a long time -- we're part of the landscape," he said.
The three hotels, which total 140 rooms, had been on the market for almost a year, Goodman said.
Ratan, based in North Bergen, N.J., owns 15 hotels in northern New Jersey and New York, including a Day's Inn in Brooklyn. These will be its first Long Island properties.
Maheshchand Ratanji, one of the group's owners, confirmed the planned closing but declined to comment further.
Copyright (c) 2006, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.
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