SPAN Hospitality: “Invested in Conway” [North Metro Business Journal]

Nearly $2 million in renovations planned for three Conway hotels

What began as two families working at the independently owned Budget Inn in Malvern, Arkansas, has expanded into a hospitality development and management company that owns and operates five franchised hotels and multiple rental properties in central Arkansas.

SPAN Hospitality Group is a holding company for commercial and residential real estate, including three Conway hotels – Candlewood Suites, Country Inn & Suites, and Comfort Inn & Suites. Cookie Desai, director of sales and marketing; Danny Patel, director of development and revenue; and Sima Vallabh, director of operations spoke with the North Metro Business Journal about SPAN’s three hotel properties in Conway and the company’s plans for growth.

Renovations planned for Country Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn & Suites, and Candlewood Suites

Built in 2009, Country Inn & Suites was SPAN’s first Conway hotel. Owner and general manager Danny Patel has lived in Conway since that time and has been actively involved with the community. He is a member of the Conway Advertising and Promotion Commission and Conway Development Corporation and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including being recognized as Young Business Leader of the Year during the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Annual Meeting.

Patel said all public spaces and the 67 guest rooms and suites at Country Inn & Suites will undergo a half-million-dollar renovation starting at the end of 2019. Located at 750 Amity Road, the hotel also offers 1,300 square feet of meeting space that seats up to 100.

SPAN Hospitality acquired Candlewood Suites and Comfort Inn & Suites in 2018. A half-million-dollar renovation is currently underway at Comfort Inn & Suites, located at 2370 Sanders Road in Conway. Renovation on the third floor is complete, and the entire hotel will be updated by the end of 2019.

Candlewood Suites is an extended-stay hotel located at 2360 Sanders Road in Conway. The property offers 65 spacious suites with a fully equipped kitchen complete with a stovetop, full-size refrigerator, microwave, ample counter space, cookware and dinnerware, and a dishwasher. Guests also have access to free laundry services, an outdoor gazebo grill, and the Candlewood Cupboard®, which is stocked with breakfast items, beverages, snacks, frozen entrées, and more. They can also loan small kitchen appliances, such as blenders and slow cookers, during their stay.

“We are in it for hospitality – to provide clean guest rooms to accommodate guests who are coming in town, whether they’re coming in for just an overnight stay or for several weeks or months,” said director of operations Sima Vallabh.

“Candlewood’s slogan is ‘Your Space, Your Way.’ Our goal is to make our guests feel at home away from home,” she added.

The construction, manufacturing, and health care industries in the Conway area benefit from the presence of an extended-stay hotel, Vallabh said. Out-of-town contractors and sub-contractors along with traveling nurses are frequent guests at the property. Candlewood Suites is the only hotel in Conway that provides a range in each suite’s kitchen.

“We can offer special corporate rates for companies looking for an extended-stay property for their contract employees,” said Cookie Desai, director of sales and marketing. “The ability for guests to cook on a stovetop and wash and dry their laundry at no cost make it ideal for longer-term stays.”

Beginning in early 2020, Candlewood Suites will undergo an $800,000 renovation. “The entire hotel will be transformed,” Vallabh said. “We will update the carpeting, repaint the walls, replace the bathtubs, and more. It’ll be a total makeover.”

Vallabh added that although the guest experience is central to hotel operations, accommodation extends to the hotel’s employees as well. As a manager, she makes sure to listen to team members to create a positive work environment.

“We accommodate guests who are here, and we accommodate the employees who work here. I want our team members to understand that we are here for hospitality, and that’s what our guests expect when they stay with us. We want to take good care of our employees so that they, in turn, take good care of the guests.

“A better guest experience only comes from a better employee experience.”

Relationships are central to SPAN – from guests to employees to the company’s owners. The name SPAN represents the company’s focus on family connections.

“’SPAN’ means from ‘edge to edge,’ keeping all the family together from one end to the other,” Vallabh explained. “We’re all in it together as far as ownership, and this concept extends to our employees as well.”

Patel said that SPAN looks to expand its real-estate development footprint in Conway. In addition to the hotels, the holding group also manages several rental properties and is seeking opportunities to manage commercial property.

“If anyone is looking to develop in Conway, we are ready to work with them,” Patel said. “From our rental properties to our hotels, we are heavily invested in Conway and are seeking to expand in the city and throughout the surrounding area.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of the North Metro Business Journal.