Older Mansfield motel feeling left out

05/26/2014 12:00 AM

05/23/2014 3:19 PM

Ask people in the hospitality industry in Mansfield how many hotels the city has, and they’ll probably say six.

All six have been built since 2002 and all are on the accommodations list, along with an RV park, posted on the city’s tourism website, and on a map of city destinations.

But the city’s oldest hotel -- the Courtesy Inn, built in 1984, is missing from the tourism promotions.

Courtesy Inn owner Nila Patel and part-time manager Brian Buckley said they feel the 55-room hotel is being snubbed by the other hotels and the city, which have organized to market their services and benefit from the city’s burgeoning tourism industry.

During some big events, Buckley said, the newer hotels are booked solid but don’t even refer their overflow to the Courtesy Inn – which he said is not only bad for his hotel but for the city.

“If all the hotels in Mansfield are full and we’re empty,” he said, “guess what -- they just sent Mansfield’s money to Arlington.”

City officials said they tried to include the Courtesy Inn when the tourism effort expanded about three years ago, but the hotel hasn’t responded.

“We reached out to them and we continue to reach out to them,” said Shelly Lanners, the city’s director of community services, which includes the tourism department.

She said that the city’s relationship with the hotels depends on current contact information and that the Courtesy Inn’s information might be outdated.

Patel said she does recall someone from the city or a hotel visiting a few years ago.

“She said they’re doing something new and going to be doing this, that and the other,” she said. “She seemed like a real nice lady, but then nothing ever came out of it.”

Theresa Cohagen, the city’s tourism manager, said in an email that the city “has already spoken with the Courtesy Inn about being included in the reprint (of) materials when new brochures are printed.”

Buckley said he believes Cohagen is referring to a complaint he made at City Hall after a big weekend for tourism in Mansfield last March – the St. Paddy’s Pickle Parade and Palooza and a major tournament at Big League Dreams.

It was his first suspicion of something awry.

“I knew there were some big events in town, and I was wondering why we weren’t getting any people,” said Buckley.

Posing as a potential customer, he called several hotels and found they were all booked. He asked one desk clerk about the Courtesy Inn.

“He said, ‘I don’t think there’s a place here called the Courtesy Inn,’ and I said, ‘Really? Because I sitting in it right now,’” Buckley said.

Patel, who has owned the hotel with husband Ashok Patel for 23 years, points out that the Courtesy Inn charges the 13 percent hotel-motel tax to its customers just as all the other hotels do. Part of that tax revenue stays in the city, where it funds activities that draw tourists to town. It’s a cache that topped $500,000 last year.

It’s only fair, she said, that the Courtesy Inn gets to fill some beds from those events.

“Absolutely I agree,” Lanners responded. She said she hopes that the comments from Patel and Buckley indicate an interest in participating. “We’re looking forward to working with them in all our tourism efforts.”

Buckley acknowledges that the Courtesy Inn might not look as nice or have all the modern conveniences of the newer hotels.

“But our rooms are nice,” he said. “They’ve got air conditioning, refrigerators, microwaves.”

And room remodeling is under way. “I’ve painted them. I just put in 12 air conditioners. I put in 24 new beds in 12 double rooms,” he said. Also, he’s replacing carpet in the sink counter area with tile.

Still no pool. But he said that by staying at the more affordable Courtesy Inn – a single room runs $56.50, including taxes, during the week – “you can take that money and go to Hawaiian Falls all you want.”

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