Apr. 22—The sliding doors to downtown Enid finally will open Thursday.
After a decade of fits and starts, Enid’s Best Western GLō hotel, at 123 W. Maine, will begin taking online reservations Thursday for visitors to book one of its 96 rooms.
New owner and operator Purvish Kothari signed the title transfer Friday after six weeks of negotiating the sale with its former owners, Dr. Atul Patel and his mother, Anuj Patel, who had wanted to sell the hotel after constructing it for the last three years.
He bought the property a day after the city’s occupancy permit was delivered to the hotel.
Since the sale, he, his wife, Neha, and the hotel’s newly hired staff have been working to get it ready and clean. Workers every day are cleaning the hotel’s cement flooring and surfaces in every room.
The four-floor hotel’s exterior is stone-gray, as requested by the city of Enid. A single towering blue column featuring the GLō name will light up at night, visible from U.S. 412.
Inside, amid the black and white, accents of solid candy colors of red, blue and yellow are splashed across furniture, wall decor and amenities.
Even the hair dryers, the closet safes and the wash dispensers in the showers are color-coordinated, following Best Western GLō’s modern design brand, Neha Kothari said.
The hotel also includes a board room, a workout room and a laundry room, as well as ADA-compliant hotel rooms for hearing-impaired people and wheelchair users.
The Kotharis intend to move to Enid once they get through the initial opening hurdle, saying they plan to become more involved in the city and the downtown community.
“I can see the finish line. I’m going to cross it tomorrow,” Purvish Kothari said Wednesday sitting in the hotel’s dining area, where hot breakfast will be available each morning. He’d spent all day reconfiguring the hotel’s TV connections.
A bar just past him has yet to be opened, ahead of getting a liquor license from the state. The floor of the 5-foot-max-deep pool also still is being reworked for city code approval, he said.
“But the challenge is, the passing the baton … I’ve had to do everything in six weeks,” he said.
Since February, Kothari — a self-described “corporate guy” and engineer now working in hospitality management — made four trips to visit Enid from his home in the Denver area.
Each time, he said, he could immediately tell the Best Western GLō wasn’t ready to be sold and then immediately open like the Patels had told him.
“This not my first rodeo,” said Kothari, who had been a safety officer for companies he’d operated.
On that first February visit, it was “totally not done,” and Kothari could tell the hotel wouldn’t be open in a month.
He said he continued to notice small things missing from the hotel in later visits — the equipment for those promised hot breakfasts hadn’t yet been ordered from the Best Western parent company.
“If I see something in a room that I believe is not easy to the eye, someone who’s staying will not like it, too,” he said. “If I know there’s a dent — you’re going to see it, I’m going to see it, I won’t like it.
“We were supposed to close at 2 o’clock (last Friday). At 1 o’clock, I almost walked away.”
But once Dr. Patel said he’d provide contractor contacts to make further repairs following the sale and negotiate name transfers with Best Western, Kothari bought the property with a purchase and sale agreement.
The sale came with a transfer of the hotel’s 2017 room occupancy guarantee rate agreement with the city of Enid.
As part of the initial agreement, the city had voted 4-3 to provide ENIDBWP LLC, the Patels’ Edmond-based hotel management company, a 40% room occupancy rate for the hotel’s rooms, which will last five years after the hotel’s opening.
The city will pay the percentage profit difference between the minimum rate and actual yearly rate if management does not have more than 14,906 rooms occupied a year, capped at $1,681,920 per year, on a maximum $120 average daily rate.
A profit drawback provision would go into effect after each of the five years. If next year’s occupancy rate is over 40%, the city would be able to draw back part or all the money paid the year before.
In early March, commissioners voted 5-2 to approve the same transfer to Kothari as the third party, with Jonathan Waddell and Rob Stallings voting against.
Kothari said he wouldn’t have gone through with the sale if the vote had been closer, though not because he was worried about meeting that rate guarantee.
“My goal would be if I come here … a year from the day I start the property, I’m going to go to those two guys, and I’m going to ask them, ‘Are you happy with what we’ve done?’ And if they say yes, I’ll met my goals,” Kothari said.
Mayor George Pankonin is set to be the Best Western’s first official guest Thursday and said he plans to check in at 3 p.m.
It was his only request when signing over the transfer last Friday, Kothari said.
City staff will bring a guest book for Pankonin to sign his name in and leave in the room he and wife spend the night in, while a grand opening is set for next Friday, April 30.
His stay is set to usher in what city leaders including Pankonin say will be a new era for downtown and the city at-large.
“I can see lots of opportunities for that (hotel) to be good for the city,” he said, such as the myriad sporting events, concerts and conventions planned for the rest of the year.
City Manager Jerald Gilbert had been a city employee when plans for a downtown hotel began in the early 2010s.
But each of the three times the city would appear to find a developer to help build that dream, economic concerns would lead the groups to back out — until Kothari came on at the last minute.
“This is a fulfillment of at least a decade-old, if not decades and decades, dream,” Gilbert said.
And more, the hotel is already “doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Marcy Jarrett, executive director of Visit Enid.
The tourist bureau already has negotiated two state conferences coming to Enid in the next couple months.
Both Oklahoma Transit Association and Oklahoma Game Wardens Association needed rooms for their conferences at Stride Bank Center across from the new hotel.
Jarrett said both events had been scheduled with the city for about eight months.
While the Best Western GLō waited to turn on its booking software, for the last week, Jarrett’s office had been gathering every piece of information to reserve rooms for a total 220-plus visitors in May and June.
“It’ll just be brimming over by June,” Jarrett said of the hotel. “We’re going to have a very busy summer. People are going to get out. They know Enid is open for business.”
Ewald is copy editor and city/education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
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