Super 8 owners Raj and Seema Sood have earned the Pride of Super 8 for the hotel they’ve owned since 2013. They give praise to their dedicated staff

Super 8 owners Raj and Seema Sood have earned the Pride of Super 8 for the hotel they’ve owned since 2013. They give praise to their dedicated staff

Service comes first at Super 8

Local hotel has earned the 2015 Pride of Super 8 designation awarded by Super 8 Worldwide

From the breakfast room stocked with tasty treats to the indoor pool and hot tub, the Super 8 Hotel offers both business and holiday travellers everything they need.

General manager Raj Sood and his wife, Seema, bought the hotel in July 2013, moving to Vernon from Quesnel with their two sons, Ishan and Vinil.

“This was an opportunity for us to enjoy better weather and a better location, so this is now home for us,” said Raj Sood.

Since then, the hotel has earned the 2015 Pride of Super 8 designation awarded by Super 8 Worldwide Inc. and is one of only two properties in British Columbia to receive this honour.

“We are extremely proud to receive this tremendous honour,” said Sood. “This achievement is a true testament to our amazing staff and phenomenal guests.

The family’s first day in the North Okanagan was July 17. They took possession of the hotel at 3 p.m. and the first thing Sood did was to change the set-up of the breakfast room.

“We were here until 1 a.m. setting up,” he said, laughing at the memory of the hard work.

But the hard work has paid off. In addition to the designation from the company, the property has earned the third highest ranked hotel rating on TripAdvisor, up from 13th in 2013.

“It is nice to be rewarded for all of the hard work that has gone into this business over the last three years — we changed everything except the walls.”

The Soods and their staff have worked hard to transform the pet-friendly property, with everything from a fresh coat of paint to contemporary furniture and the 37 brand-new 32-inch high definition flat-screen TVs in the guest rooms.

The 62 rooms on three floors — all non-smoking — are modern, clean and have everything a guest could need, from the in-room coffee maker and mini fridge to added extras such as a walk-out balcony for every room and large-scale photos on the walls with iconic scenes of the Okanagan.

“We try and exceed the standards set by the company, so we have updated everything.”

As for the clean and bright breakfast room, guests are treated to more than a simple basket of muffins. Belgian waffles have been the most popular item, but there are also hot and cold cereals, bagels, English muffins, hard-boiled eggs and a variety of breads.

The Super 8 welcomes both business travellers and families enjoying an Okanagan vacation whether it’s to the lakes in the summer or Silver Star in the winter. As well, sports teams are regular customers and enjoy taking advantage of the hotel’s hospitality room, which is situated away from the guest rooms.

“This is the best location on the highway, because it’s close to Kal Tire Place, as well as a variety of restaurants. We have a wonderful relationship with the restaurants in town.”

Sood has worked hard to establish a rapport with local restaurant owners, and his guests can present their room key card and enjoy a discount at a number of restaurant in town, including Kelly O’Bryan’s, Boston Pizza and White Spot.

“The key in running a hotel is to anticipate your guests’ needs — we try and see everything with a third eye,” said Sood. “Our front desk staff is very good and they will help with anything our guests need.”

And for guests who need to check in with their office back home or print out documents, the hotel has a business centre, conveniently located next to a vending machine for those last-minute snacks.

To earn the Pride of Super 8 designation, there are certain criteria a property must meet or exceed, such as customer service and the comments they make about the property.

“And things like how does your staff treat your guests, what do your customers say about you, do they consistently meet or exceed their standards.”

As well, Super 8 has been involved in sponsorship with the Vernon Minor Hockey Association, the Lumby Minor Hockey Association, and Fulton and Kalamalka secondary schools.

“Community involvement is very important to us, so when I find opportunities I want to get involved.”

For the Sood family, running a hotel is truly a family business. Youngest son Vinil is a Grade 12 student at Kal, with plans to attend UBCO and eventually join the family business. Oldest son Ishan, 25, is working towards his master’s degree in hospitality at the prestigious Cornell University in New York.

And while running a hotel is hard work, with long hours, the Soods do manage to take a vacation of their own in the winter.

“We manage to get away for one or two weeks and of course we are checking out hotels and we might see something that catches our eye that we can use here.”

Super 8’s name is derived from its original room rate — $8.88 per night —when the first location opened in 1974 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Since Super 8 began franchising in 1976, the chain has grown to more than 2,000 locations throughout the United States and Canada.