A Hays-based development company plans to offer a new hotel and refurbish an existing one in Hays, offering rooms at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum.
Raj Sharma, Hays, and Srujan Vusi, Oklahoma City, two partners in HKHR Hospitality, made the announcement Friday afternoon at the Hays Welcome Center, 2700 Vine.
The group, whose partners also include a doctor at KVC Wheatland Hospital in Hays and an Oklahoma businesswoman, will build an 81-room La Quinta Inn and Suites in the lot west of the former Golden Corral on Mopar Drive. HKHR owns the vacant lot and plans to begin construction on the four-story hotel in May or June, with opening targeted for April 2019, Sharma said.
Golden Corral, 383 W. Mopar, closed in October. Old Chicago is slated to open in that location later this year.
La Quinta is famous for corporate lodging, Sharma said, and this hotel will be built as the chain’s new Del Sol model, designed to use space efficiently with a modern design, according to company information. It will be the first Del Sol model in western Kansas, Sharma said.
The hotel also will be pet-friendly, something Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Melissa Dixon said is needed in Hays.
“We can tell from our website searches that we always have people looking for pet-friendly hotels,” she said.
The developers had to work with Walmart on their plans, as the company has a three-story height restriction for nearby buildings, Sharma and Vusi said.
“It took about three months for them to release the restriction so it will be a four-story hotel,” Vusi said.
HKHR will request an incentive from the city in the form of a Community Improvement District.
“That’s the one place that I think our taxpayers are not losing any money is through the CID,” Sharma said.
The company’s other project will be visible later this month. HKHR has purchased Motel 6, 3404 Vine, and will rebrand it Jan. 18 as Hays Tiger Inn.
The 87-room motel will undergo renovation, retaining the same number of rooms. It will operate independently, but they don’t rule out the possibility of eventually operating it as a franchise.
“It is independent, but we have talked to folks like Red Roof Inn, and we are looking at if it is going to bring value to the property,” Sharma said.
“We’ll be remodeling to the Red Roof standards, but we are not taking Red Roof as of now. It will be like a flag hotel, but it will be independent for now,” Vusi said.
It will be the group’s “economy brand” in Hays, Srujan said.
“The Hays Tiger Inn will be probably the cheapest in town,” he said.
Most of the 50 employees of Motel 6 will stay with the rebranded hotel, Sharma said. He expects the La Quinta to employ around the same number.
The La Quinta is the second recent development announced for north of the interstate. A Hilton Garden Inn with 100 guest rooms and 8,400 square feet of convention space is planned by another developer west of Walmart on 43rd Street.
Dixon, the CVB director, said the developments will help Hays in once again attracting events after the closing of the Ambassador Hotel, 3603 Vine, just more than two years ago. The structure was demolished last year.
“This will work toward getting us to where we were before we lost the Ambassador,” she said.