Microtel Inns and Suites in Raid City, SD

Microtel Inns and Suites in Raid City, SD

Steve Sink Business editor of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle write thats as a business editor for many of the past 25 years, I’ve handled a lot of bad-news stories — layoffs, market crashes, investment fraud. The concentration of such stories has never been greater than during the past 10 months, since the financial system’s near-implosion made an already deep recession much, much deeper.

Which is why I appreciate the tidbits that come to my attention showing the entrepreneurial spirit can’t be extinguished. One such item was an announcement a few days ago by Indus Development Co. in Pittsford that it will build a 69-room Microtel Inns and Suites hotel in Geneva.

A new hotel? In Geneva? When fewer people are traveling for either business or pleasure?

“I don’t know if we’ve bottomed out,” said Jett Mehta, president of the parent Indus Cos., acknowledging that with U.S. unemployment hitting 9.5 percent, it’s hard to say the worst is over. But Mehta told me his horizon extends much further than the next six or 12 months.

“We want this hotel to be part of our portfolio for decades to come,” he said.

Mehta and Indus, which employs almost 700 people, are building an impressive portfolio of franchised operations that, counting the Geneva hotel, includes six Microtels, 15 Dunkin Donuts stores and 12 Ponderosa Steakhouses, all in western New York and the Southern Tier.

He said the properties are performing well, in part because they don’t take a big bite out of the wallets of the people who patronize them. The average check at Dunkin Donuts is $3.50, the average night’s stay at a Microtel is $55.

All Microtels are newly constructed, not conversions of existing hotel buildings. Mehta thinks that newness is another factor in their popularity, helping the chain rank No. 1 among economy hotels for seven consecutive years, according to J.D. Power surveys.

The foresight of Mehta and his colleagues to expand amid a recession also shows their faith in Rochester and upstate.

“This is my hometown,” he said. “This is my community.”

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

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