There were many who thought Hardial Chahal and Jas Purewal were crazy.
The two brothers, long-time North Okanagan entrepreneurs, had taken on a business challenge that even their family members questioned initially.
That challenge was to buy the notorious Green Valley Hotel and turn it into a legitimate tourist accommodation enterprise.
“Even members of the family thought they were nuts to take this on,” said Purewal’s son Amar.
But Amar said the two had a vision, his father from a business perspective and his uncle from the renovation side.
At first glance, they bought a business that was a rundown hotel, a magnet for drug addicts, drug dealers and other street people looking for a room for the night, a flophouse of sorts with an absentee owner who lived in Kelowna.
Police were constant visitors to the property and drug paraphernalia and other litter were a common sight around the grounds.
But the two men saw its potential, and since starting the renovation project last spring, that vision has begun to emerge.
The business has a new name, the Okanagan Royal Park Inn, new exterior colour scheme, all 26 rooms completely renovated, live-in management with Chahal and his wife, a new video surveillance system, and upgraded grounds and fencing.
Equally difficult, they have also turned away the opportunity to make an early return on their investment by discouraging the old clientele from returning by demanding advance damage deposits and credit card checks.
They want the units to be rented on a daily or weekly basis, but no monthly rentals.
“It’s really hard to say no to potential business after making the investment that has been made, when people are standing in front of you with cash in hand, but my father and uncle don’t want the same clientele coming back here,” said Amar, noting a social media marketing firm has also been retained to attract new business.
“We are in a fortunate position to be able to do that because the revenue from our other business interests can support what we are trying to do here.”
Those other interests include two other hotels, residential real estate holdings and a Canada Post package delivery service. While the motel renovations were underway, Amar himself has been working towards completing a business deal to open a Tim Hortons and gas bar in Lumby.
Efforts have also been made to not allow drug addicts to shoot up around the property, particularly along the rear fence that borders a creek.
“We own a second hotel in Vernon and the Twin Creeks Motel in Lumby and they have both been successful businesses and we want the same to happen here.”
So do the neighbouring businesses and Vernon City Hall, both of which Amar says have been supportive of the family’s efforts to transform the motel.
All 27 rooms at the Royal Okanagan Park Inn have been renovated with new windows, flooring, beds, appliances, tables, flat screen TVs and bathroom fixtures. Some rooms are kitchenette suites with new cabinets and quartz countertops.
“The walls were marked with people’s phone numbers and drug sale ledgers left behind by previous tenants,” said Amar, who assists the family’s Park Inn business with various administrative and marketing tasks.
While his uncle oversaw every aspect of the redesign, using his understanding of how to effectively mix and match colours from his years running a women’s clothing store and his experience renovating some 25 homes in Vernon, Amar and other family members and friends hauled the furniture up to each of the rooms on all three levels.
“Everything we’ve done here has been done ourselves. We didn’t hire outside contractors to do any of the work. It’s been a lot of work to get this done and my uncle has worked incredibly hard on this for six months, night and day,” Amar said.
But Chahal says like many Vernon residents, he would drive by the city’s busiest intersection and wonder what was going on at the old Green Valley Hotel site.
“On one side of the street there is a beautiful park, and on the other was this motel surrounded by garbage on the ground. That just didn’t seem right,” Chahal said.
“It was a feud within the family whether to purchase the property or not but my uncle and my father had a gut feeling about it,” Amar added. “It did not look right to them the way it was and they wanted to change the outlook people had of our city from that intersection.”