Resiliency on the River: Holiday Inn Express reopens in LaPlace

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, January 26, 2022

LAPLACE — Holiday Inn Express reopened to the public January 17, nearly five months after Hurricane Ida inflicted a double whammy of flooding and wind damage on the U.S. 51 corridor of LaPlace.

Vimal Patel, president of QHotels Management, said the nearby Hampton Inn and TownePlace Suites are expected to reopen within the next two-to-four months. QHotels’ Best Western suffered the most extensive damage, and it will take time to fully rebound from the hurricane damage.

Dealing with insurance companies has been the greatest challenge, according to Patel. QHotels has yet to receive any funds from insurance and had to come out of pocket to get Holiday Inn Express back up and running to serve the community. Patel said the fight for insurance funds has also been an ongoing battle at the company’s Lake Charles hotels that were impacted by Hurricane Laura in 2020.

Short supply of building materials and lack of space to accommodate contractors have further complicated the rebuilding process.

“Because of the lack of rooms in the area, it was a challenge getting the labor and the contractors to come down here since there was limited space for them to stay in LaPlace,” Patel said.

QHotels invested $1.8 million into renovating the Holiday Inn Express in late 2018, just over a year before the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to bring travel and tourism to a standstill.

“In 2021, things started picking up, and then the hurricane hit, so we were shut down,” Patel said. “The sooner we open the business and get back to somewhat of a new routine, we are optimistic that things will start getting back on track and that we will recover not only from the pandemic, but from this hurricane disaster.”

Dealing with hurricane destruction didn’t stop QHotels from supporting the community just as they have in the past. The company upheld its traditions of charitable contributions while all of its LaPlace locations remained shuttered.

The QHotels management team got into the giving spirit during the Christmas season with donations to Child Advocacy Services. There were more than 200 gifts under the QHotels tree this year, including gifts for 14 foster children in St. John Parish. Gifts were also distributed to St. Tammy Parish, Terrebonne Parish and Calcasieu Parish.

This past December, QHotels additionally donated $5,000 to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office bulletproof vest fund.

Patel knows QHotels has not been alone in its recovery. When he looks at the people of St. John Parish, he sees a close-knit community that has shown resilience time and time again.

“This has been our home. We grew here, not only our families, but our business. It’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our close relationships with not only the parish officials but the St. John Sheriff’s Office, Chamber of Commerce and other businesses in the community has made us feel right at home,” Patel said. “It’s difficult to find this type of camaraderie in the neighborhoods of today, where people go out of their way to help you.”

Holiday Inn Express is located at 4284 U.S. 51 in LaPlace. The hotel can be reached by calling 985-618-1600.