|By Robert Evatt, Tulsa World,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Apr. 14, 2010--Local hotel operator Andy Patel has been more than a little busy.
Although he just opened the 101-room Hampton Inn & Suites near Tulsa Hills shopping center, he's in various stages of building four more hotels, including the first Oklahoma location of the ultra-contemporary Aloft brand.
Patel's aggressive development may seem at odds with the tough economic climate, but he said the area has fared relatively well amid the nation's economic downturn and has plenty of room for more hotels.
"The times have been tough, but Tulsa isn't that weak," he said. "Tulsa's survived the recession well."
Still, Patel said he is careful to match the right locations with the right brands.
The new Hampton Inn near 71st Street and U.S. 75, for example, was made a little more upscale from Marriott's typical Hampton Inn design in order to appeal to both leisure travelers and professionals with business at nearby Olympia Medical Hospital.
The lobby, for example, features an angular, contemporary design that opens into a large common room two stories high.
Patel said business has been slow since the hotel opened earlier this month, but he expected that because new hotels take some time to catch on.
"New hotels take longer to fill up than they used to, but we're confident we'll ramp up soon," he said.
In the meantime, Patel has more hotels to finish.
The next will be a 60-room Comfort Inn & Suites in Glenpool near the Walmart store at 121st Street and U.S. 75. Patel said it should open next month.
After that comes the 136-room Aloft hotel by Starwood at 71st Street and U.S. 169.
Though the hotel was announced two years ago, Patel said the search for contractors that could do justice to the project took longer than anticipated.
The brand features high-tech, cutting-edge designs.
The chain has continually updated its hotel designs in order to keep up with contemporary trends, and Patel said his will be up to date once it opens up in July.
"That's our most exciting project," he said. "We get a lot of talk about it."
He's also constructing a 93-room Hampton Inn & Suites at 31st Street and Memorial Drive, which should open early next year.
In addition, Patel is in the planning stages for a Hilton Garden hotel at the Shoppes at Stone Ridge, a retail development being built near Albany Street and Elm Place in Broken Arrow.
Though the immediate area already has some hotels, Patel said he's looking to tap into the medical market with a midscale hotel that has food and beverage options.
"Hilton Garden will serve a different clientele than the others that are there," he said.
Beyond that, Patel said he's got plans for at least two more hotels, but he declined to give specifics.
Robert Evatt 581-8447 firstname.lastname@example.org
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