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A profile of the Wigwam Motel’s Kumar Patel August 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, People, Preservation.
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Wigwam Motel

The Asian American Hotel Owners Association recently posted a feature about Kumar Patel, the operator of the historic Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California.

Most stories focus on the motel, which was built along Route 66 in 1949 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. But this one focuses more about Patel himself.

A few tidbits from the story:

— Patel, the son of Indian immigrants, was in accounting before taking over the motel.

— The “rundown” motel – “The man who owned it before was renting rooms for $15 a night” – was bought for $1 million in 2003 and another $500,000 has been spent renovating it.

— Patel’s family also owns franchised motels, in addition to the Wigwam.

— Like many other Route 66 business owners, Patel’s connection with its people and history are what stands out:

“The biggest powerhouse tool I have is the connection I have made with the people along Route 66,” he said. “They are basically like a family now. I pack my car with all sorts of Wigwam [promotional] material, and I leave them at all these places along Route 66 at which the tourists are stopping.”

When he’s at the Wigwam, Patel will host fundraisers and concerts. He loves spending time with his guests, too, taking them out for breakfast, showing them historical sites or hosting a barbecue for them.

“Anything local to bring people in and show them the Wigwam is there, that it is a great place and that it is family oriented,” he said. “I don’t have millions of dollars to market, so I have to use all my energy and power to go out and get different ideas.” […]

Patel wants more travelers to explore Route 66, even if they don’t always pick the Wigwam as their destination of choice.

“It’s OK that the money is not going to me. The money is going on Route 66. Route 66 is benefiting the hotel industry no matter what,” he said. “If I’m pushing Route 66 and [travelers] come out and they fly by me, I can’t feel bad about it because I love the road so much, and I just want to see people traveling it.”

 

 

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