by Peter Bodley
A $1 million renovation project has been completed at Country Inn & Suites by Carlson, Coon Rapids, by its new owners.
JR Hospitality, which has owned the neighboring Holiday Inn Express since 2008, purchased what was then-called Inn Place Suites last year and embarked on the hotel upgrade.
And in doing so, Jay Bhakta, who with his cousin Roshan Bhakta, operates JR Hospitality has returned the hotel to its name when it first opened in 1987 – Country Inn & Suites under the Carlson Companies banner.
Jay Bhakta is now general manager of Country Inn & Suites, while his cousin runs Holiday Inn Express.
The original owners which had the Carlson Companies franchise sold the business in 2008 and with it went the franchise and the Country Suites name, according to Bhakta.
And when JR Hospitality took over the operation, it renamed the hotel, Coon Rapids Plaza Hotel, while the remodeling project was taking place, Bhakta said.
Through the renovation project, the hotel’s 108 rooms, which include 45 suites, have all been upgraded with new furniture and carpeting as well as new decor, plus new LCD 32-inch television sets and brand new fixtures and lights, he said.
The hotel also features a remodeled jacuzzi suite, which Bhakta said is very popular on weekends.
And there are three function rooms for meetings totaling 3,300 square feet of space with a main event room which can hold up to 180 people.
In addition, the hotel offers complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access in a brand new business center off the lobby; an expanded eating area with new fixtures that serves hot, complementary breakfast including waffles; a heated indoor pool and whirlpool; an upgraded fitness center featuring new equipment and a rubber floor; and a remodeled lobby area with new fixtures.
“There was a big renovation of the pool area,” Bhakta said.
Indeed, the project has been recognized by the Carlson Companies with its 2011 Renovation of the Year Award, Bhakta said.
“It has been a big project,” he said.
“Customers have been extremely happy, especially those who have seen the before and after.”
“Our goal is to continue to provide good customer service like it used to be.”
According to Bhakta, the Country Suites offers the best quality in the hotel market it serves.
Customers are split 50-50 between business and leisure, Bhakta said.
For example, the hotel is filled in July when the Schwan’s USA Cup youth soccer tournament takes place at the National Sports Center soccer complex and there are also plenty of guests when the Champions Tour golf tournament comes to the TPC in Blaine during the summer, he said.
Currently, Country Suites has 10 employee, both full- and part-time, but Bhakta anticipates expanding that number to 15 to 20 employees in the summer.
Born in Fridley, Bhakta has lived in the Twin Cities all his life.
His mother worked in the hotel business and so did Bhakta and his cousin before they decided to go into business for themselves in 2008 and take ownership of the Holiday Inn Express.
“The remodeling has been a lot of work, but it has been well worth it,” Bhakta said.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org