Striving to restore motel’s luster

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June 25, 2015 - 12:00 AM

It took Phillip and Tina Patel about a year to fully remake — and rename — the old Crossroads Motel.
Now, the Patels hope their efforts to make the Regency Inn a viable part of Iola’s tourism industry takes a little less time.
The Patels spoke this week about their long, arduous efforts to refurbish the 54-room facility at the intersection of State and West streets.
But while the physical effort alone was a Herculean task, re-establishing the motel’s reputation might be even more daunting.
“Many people don’t realize we’ve done all this work,” Tina said. “They still think of Crossroads, and they think it still has a bad name.”
Prior to the Patels acquiring the hotel, Crossroads had become a long-term home to several indigent occupants who stayed on a long-term basis.
As those tenants struggled to pay their monthly rent, the old owners in turn had an increasingly difficult time keeping up the facility’s maintenance. Water leaks, unsecured rooms and broken windows were prevalent.
The Patels weren’t interested in running a long-term, low-income housing facility. Plus, they had to close off the facility to everyone to begin repairs.
“We knew we wanted to fix everything,” Phillip said.
They closed Crossroads for a few weeks after acquiring the motel on June 2, 2014, and immediately set about remodeling each of the rooms.
Carpets, ceilings, restroom fixtures, beds throughout were removed.
“We redid all of the plumbing,” Tina said. “The rooms have new countertops, and hard flooring. About the only thing we left alone was the brick.”
The Patels also removed the motel’s crumbling swimming pool.
New, energy-efficient lighting was added, both indoors and on the exterior. Roughly half of the rooms also had new windows installed.
The Patels also replaced a handful of old air-conditioning units.
“We kept the ones that still worked,” Phillip said.
All 54 rooms also sport new, electronic locks.
“The old rooms had keys, and only half of those worked,” Tina said.
Then, as the remodel progressed, the Patels reopened the hotel, sections at a time.
The final work, refurbishing the lobby, was finished early this year.

BAD TIMING has hurt business, the Patels admitted.
Out-of-town traffic through Iola on U.S. 54 has been greatly reduced because of a bridge closure near Yates Center.
“Most of the travelers don’t know they can still use the road and just turn off a shorter detour,” Phillip said, and are instead rerouted through Chanute. “Those would be the ones most likely to stay with us.”
The Patels, who also own America’s Best Value Inn — the old Best Western Motel — said business remains slow.
Still, they hope that as business trickles in, guests will be pleasantly surprised.
“We’ve had a few workers, hunters, who come in and say ‘Wow, what a big difference,’” Tina said. “We’re hoping people around town realize it, so they can tell their family and friends.”
The Regency also offers free Wifi, cable TV and coffeemakers in each room. Rooms also are equipped with refrigerators and microwaves.
“We know there is some concern Iola lacks hotel rooms for its guests,” Tina said. “But we have put a lot of effort in remodeling, which provides an additional 54 rooms for lodging in Iola.”
Regency Inn can be reached at 365-2183.

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