The South Texas hospitality market has experienced massive shifts over the past 20 years. These include a significant decrease in Mexican travelers across the border, overbuilding in certain areas, and the internationally-felt effects of the Covid pandemic as travel came to a relative standstill.
But thanks to a thriving Rio Grande Valley that attracts winter visitors, is home to more than a dozen colleges and community colleges, and boasts mild weather all year round, the area has become very appealing for hospitality entrepreneurs. Mid-level restaurants, hotels, and meeting and event centers are all welcome additions to the region that expects a doubled population by 2045.
Who is Sunil Wadhwani of McAllen, Texas?
Sunil Wadhwani is one of the entrepreneurs who has found success in South Texas as a hotelier. Since 2000, he has grown a portfolio that includes the brands La Quinta Inn & Suites, Motel 6, and Marriott; he owns eight hotels throughout McAllen, Mercedes, Mission, Pharr, Weslaco, and San Antonio.
Although Wadhwani got his start in the retail industry, he successfully transitioned into hospitality after he saw how difficult retail competitors like Amazon were making it to operate at previously achieved levels. His first investment was in a 65-room La Quinta, and he now owns almost 1,000 rooms.
Beyond his role as a hotel owner and manager for more than two decades, Sunil Wadhwani is a proud husband and father to four children, as well as a grandfather to three grandchildren.
How did Sunil Wadhwani get started in the Hospitality business?
Sunil Wadhwani is the child of immigrants, who came to the Dallas area from Asia when he was six years old. His parents later relocated to Brownsville, Texas, and opened a retail/wholesale store, where Wadhwani worked alongside them after he graduated from high school.
With the majority of his work experience centered around the retail industry, Wadhwani decided to open his own electronics and fine watch store at age 25. He relocated to McAllen, Texas, and grew his business significantly within just a few years. He also branched out into online sales, finding early success on the Internet.
After watching Amazon become a market leader as his own watch sales stalled, Wadhwani saw the writing on the wall and sold off his retail business. He briefly delved into real estate development before trying his hand at hospitality with La Quinta.
Since that first inn that he purchased in 2000, Wadhwani has delighted in learning the ins and outs of hospitality and hotels. He is and remains an extremely hands-on leader, visiting all but one of his properties on a daily basis. By remaining focused on management training and property upkeep, he has earned the distinction of being voted Franchise of the Year multiple times for both La Quinta and Motel 6, along with various other achievements.
La Quinta and Motel 6 have been excellent brand partnerships for Wadhwani, but his diligence as a franchisee and his work ethic have led him to pursue more prestigious partnerships throughout his career. In 2020, these efforts paid off as he partnered with Marriott on the TownePlace Suites San Antonio Northwest at The RIM, a 109-suite extended stay hotel.
Now nearing 60, Sunil Wadhwani maintains full control of his company, making all decisions on management, operations, finances, and employees. He employs more than 120 people and personally manages interactions with more than 100 vendors on a daily basis.
What is Sunil working on now?
While others in his position would be eyeing retirement, Wadhwani shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to his daily tasks of visiting each of his properties and meeting with his General Managers, as well as spending time at his corporate office in Edinburg, Texas, Wadhwani’s ninth property is already in the works.
With a goal of expanding his portfolio to 1,000 rooms in each brand, Wadhwani still has a lot to accomplish in order to feel that he can step away from daily operations. He has also invested in several other real estate ventures in addition to his hotel holdings. These include owning and managing five rental buildings, three townhomes, and several undeveloped properties throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
With his family and a deep network of friends and associates who have grown into an extended family as his motivation, Wadhwani remains focused on the future and everything he would still like to accomplish. His greatest dream is to serve as an inspiration to his children and grandchildren, proving to them that anything is possible through hard work.
With glowing reviews of his properties and heartfelt testimonials from coworkers and business partners, Sunil Wadhwani has proven to be a shining example of what a leader can be. If you ever find yourself in the Rio Grande Valley, you’d be wise to stay in one of his pristine and expertly managed hotels.