Lakeville Comfort Inn under new ownership

Arpan Patel, owner of Sohan Hospitality LLC, recently purchased the 54-room hotel from Sunny Bhakta, a Lakeville resident who has owned and operated the business for seven years.

Patel, of Bloomington, previously operated a 48-room Super 8 hotel in Jackson, Minn., and said a broker alerted him the hotel would be coming on the market.

“He thought it would be a good fit,” Patel said.

Bhakta proved to be open and interested in building a positive business relationship.

“She’s welcomed me with open arms and an open heart,” Patel said.

Bhakta, who owns the Budget Host Inn in Owatonna, took a day off work this week to introduce Patel to chamber members and other business owners in the Lakeville community.

The area interested Patel because he said there is more opportunity and the area is more like his hometown of New Jersey.

“It’s a different market out here,” Patel said. “There’s a lot more potential here than compared to southwest Minnesota.”

He also liked the additional amenities available at the Comfort Inn, like the swimming pool, hot tub, fitness center, meeting room and hot breakfasts served to guests.

Bhakta, who was named a 2011 Dakota County Tribune Business Weekly Exceptional Businesswoman, said the economy has created a challenging atmosphere for the business, the most difficult time being 2010 when sales were down 50 percent.

She said she made it through by concentrating on building relationships, establishing repeat business and focusing on quality services.

“Sunny has worked really hard at getting a loyal client base going, and I want to continue to exceed their expectations at all times,” Patel said.

He does not plan to make major changes in staff or operations, but wants to build on the business model Bhakta established.

“I want to get involved with the chamber and the local community,” Patel said. “I want to be part of something big rather than being isolated.”