Originally created 11/05/04

Hotel will not house parolees



Hotel guests will occupy the Relax Inn, not parolees and probationers as originally planned.

Vinu Patel, who manages the hotel on the 1300 block of Gordon Highway, on Thursday reopened about 50 of the inn's rooms for guests.

The plan for the past two months had been to turn over the rooms to Southside Clique, a local nonprofit organization set to make the hotel a re-entry facility for former inmates.

But Mr. Patel said this week that when Southside's leaders failed to fork over any money for renovations he decided to simply operate as a regular hotel.

"We didn't have a contract, and they didn't live up to their part of the deal," Mr. Patel said. "I just don't want to work with those people."

It is unclear whether the group has another facility to house its prisoner re-entry program. Several phone messages to Southside Clique Director Denise Dawson were not returned.

Mr. Patel said about a third of the rooms at Relax Inn are available for daily, weekly and monthly stays.

Thee remaining 94 rooms are expected to be ready for visitors by January or February.

Mr. Patel and his wife are the only people working at the hotel since they live on-site, but he said he hopes to hire at least four staff members to take care of laundry, maintenance, the front desk and maid services.

"We'll have temporary workers for a while until we can fill these positions," he said.

Mr. Patel purchased the hotel six months ago and has been making repairs since. He said he owns a few hotels in upstate New York and thought Augusta might be a good location.

"I was looking at property around the area and this opened up," he said. "I've talked to other motel owners in the area and they're all doing really well."

The hotel, which had been closed for more than a year, previously operated as River Walk Manor Hotel and Ramada Inn.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.