By Tony McCray
Jay and Nash Patel, owners of Lodging Hospitality Services (LHS), have invested $3.5 million in the renovations for the Clarion Inn, Sure Stay Plus by Best Western, and Studio 6 Extended Stay Hotels on Pensacola Blvd otherwise known S Highway 29. The Patels stated that their investment is in economic sync with the increased traffic on Highway 29 coming from Interstate 65. Federal Highway 29 goes through the Town of Century which Mayor Hawkins stated in an interview with the Gulf Coast Voice that there is definitely an increase in traffic on Highway 29 contributed by Interstate 65.
The LHS Management Team put a lot of stock in the impact of tourism on the 29 corridor running through Car City. Tourism is a vital component of the economic health of many regions along the Gulf of Mexico. Tourist spending has a direct impact on area sales levels, employment numbers, labor income, and tax revenues. For example, VisitFlorida.org reports that for every 85 tourists one job is created in Florida. Northwest
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Florida (from Escambia County to Franklin County) typically receives nearly 15% of all Florida visitors. With 112.8 million visitors statewide in 2016, this translates into nearly 17 million visitors to the region annually with about 2.1 million tourists visiting Escambia County in 2016.
The renovations for the 120 rooms at the Clarion Inn, 80 rooms at the Sure Stay Plus by Best Western, and Studio 6 Extended Stay Hotels are an investment in 260 hotel rooms. The Studio 6 Extended Stay Hotel has 60 rooms which have a refrigerator, stove, and individual wi-fi internet in each room. The new floors, beds, meeting facilities, exercise rooms and lobbies create a significant new opportunity for parties, happy hour events, business workshops, and conferences.
The hotel borders on the Olive Heights, Wedgewood, and Lincoln Park communities. The Patel brothers hosted area African-American business leaders and neighboring residential community leaders to tour their facilities as an invitation for building a stronger mutual beneficial relationship. According to sources that asked to remain anonymous, the event held by the Patels is already beginning to pay off with a major African-American tourism event considering making the three hotels headquarters for their event.