LAPLACE – Holiday Inn Express reopened to the public on January 17, nearly five months after Hurricane Ida inflicted a double whammy of flooding and wind damage on LaPlace’s US 51 corridor.
Vimal Patel, president of QHotels Management, said nearby Hampton Inns and TownePlace Suites are expected to reopen within the next two to four months. The Best Western at QHotels suffered the most extensive damage and it will take time to fully recover from the hurricane damage.
Dealing with insurance companies has been the biggest challenge, according to Patel. QHotels has yet to receive insurance funds and has 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 was also an ongoing battle at the company’s hotels in Lake Charles that were impacted by Hurricane Laura in 2020.
The shortage of construction materials and lack of space to accommodate contractors further complicated the reconstruction process.
“Due to the lack of rooms in the area, it was difficult to bring labor and contractors here as there was limited space for them to stay in LaPlace,” Patel said.
QHotels invested $1.8 million in refurbishing the Holiday Inn Express in late 2018, just over a year before the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to cripple travel and tourism.
“In 2021 things started to improve and then the hurricane hit so we were closed,” Patel said. “The sooner we open up business and get back to a new routine, we are optimistic that things will start to get back on track and that we will recover not only from the pandemic, but from this catastrophic hurricane.”
Dealing with the destruction from the hurricane hasn’t stopped QHotels from supporting the community as they have in the past. The company maintained its traditions of charitable contributions while all of its LaPlace locations remained closed.
The QHotels management team got into giving over the Christmas season with donations to Child Advocacy Services. There were over 200 gifts under the QHotels tree this year, including gifts for 14 foster children in St. John’s Parish. Gifts were also distributed to St. Tammy, Terrebonne and Calcasieu parishes.
Last December, QHotels also donated $5,000 to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office Body Armor Fund.
Patel knows QHotels hasn’t been the only one to recover. When he looks at the people of St. John Parish, he sees a tight-knit community that has shown resilience time and time again.
“This has been our home. We grew up here, not just our families, but our business. It’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our close relationships not only with parish officials, but also with the St. John Sheriff’s Office, Chamber of Commerce and other businesses in the community have made us feel like home,” Patel said. “It’s hard to find that kind of camaraderie in neighborhoods today, where people go out of their way to help you.”
Holiday Inn Express is located at 4284 US 51 in LaPlace. The hotel can be reached by calling 985-618-1600.