Hussein Valji has a knack for finding innovative ways to persevere through some of the hospitality industry’s most challenging periods.
He took over an independent hotel just prior to 9/11. As travel demand slumped, he took the opportunity to renovate the property and rebrand it as a Howard Johnson. The moves led to sales multiplying several times over and a highly successful exit several years later.
Valji used the proceeds from the sale to acquire the Econo Lodge Downtown Ottawa, only to soon be hit by the effects of the financial crisis. Recognizing that its style of outdoor corridors did not appeal to all travellers, Valji worked to market the property to truck drivers, bicycle groups and other demographics that want direct exterior access to their rooms while also enclosing the upper floor. The efforts paid off with significant increases in guest satisfaction scores and sales.
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Over the past decade, H&N Hospitality has continued to expand into new hospitality markets such as Brockville and St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu while netting several industry awards.
With the hospitality sector facing its biggest challenge in a generation due to the COVID-19 crisis, Valji has worked to give back to the wider community by opening its rooms to front-line hospital workers as well as providing truck drivers with an opportunity to shower, eat and recharge at no cost. Since the start of the pandemic, H&N Hospitality has provided more than 150 room nights at no charge.