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Staff Photo by Aaron Aupperlee
Bill Snyder, the day manager at the Sunset Inn, stands inside one of the newly renovated rooms. The rooms were designed to attract tourists and not longer-staying locals.

Barstow motel tries to capture new business with remodel

BARSTOW — The Patels wanted their slice of Barstow’s pass-through tourism industry.

Their current property, the Topper Motel on West Main Street, is popular with people, mostly locals, owner Ken Patel said, needing a room for more than a couple of nights. But tourists running down Route 66 passed right by and rarely stopped to rent rooms for just a night or two.

The Patels’ solution: Renovate the west side of their property, paint it the appealing color of an orange Creamsicle and slap a new name, The Sunset Inn, over the office.

Manager Bijal Patel said the Sunset Inn opened in mid-July and has attracted the tourist element he and his father, Ken, targeted.

The rooms are at the extreme west end of the Topper’s property and were once part of the West Main Street motel. About six months ago, Bijal said, he decided to try and brand the rooms differently, hoping to capture new customers. The Patels ripped out the rooms’ kitchenettes and put in new furniture, new paint and new bathrooms.

“I’m pretty sure the daily customers wouldn’t want a kitchenette,” Bijal said.

Ken said problems with longer staying customers on the Topper side of the business made him consider ways to bring in shorter-staying out-of-towners. He said the rooms where people stayed for weeks or months at a time were often unkempt, dirty and negatively effected the entire appearance of his motel.

The Sunset looks like a completely different motel from the Topper sitting next to it. The rooms are crisp and clean and the parking lot features a small courtyard and desert landscaping. Day Manager Bill Snyder said the remodel has been so successful with the Sunset that there are plans to give the Topper the same treatment soon.

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