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Inside Bulloch Business with DeWayne Grice - LaQuinta rebranded as Eagles Nest Inn
Eagles Nest Inn Web
The recently rebranded Eagles Nest Inn is now open on the bypass.

               Earlier this year, local hotelier Andy Bhula rebranded his LaQuinta Inn located off the bypass at 225 Lanier Drive, to Eagles Nest Inn.
        Eagles Nest Inn is not affiliated with any national brand. Instead, it is an independent, boutique concept developed by Bhula. The hotel was originally built by a local hotel investment and management group headed by Doug Lambert as a Fairfield Inn in 1996. Bhula purchased the 63-room Fairfield Inn in 2004 from Lambert's group and rebranded it to LaQuinta.
        "This has been a great property for us primarily because of its proximity to GSU," Bhula said. "Because the hotel was built over two decades ago, it was becoming very difficult to maintain the hotel to the standards required by LaQuinta. They were asking for major renovations of the hotel, many of which would not be possible because of the age of the hotel. We decided to continue with extensive renovations of the property and rebrand it to a local concept focusing on localizing it with a GSU theme."
        Bhula is investing more than half million dollars in rebranding the hotel to include replacing all of the windows and painting the hotel to match GSU colors inside and outside. Every room is being completely renovated and themed with GSU and local memorabilia and photography.
        "Anytime you leave a national brand, there is risk involved," Bhula said. "I have done this successfully with other properties and am excited about the concept we have created. I want travelers and locals to understand that this is not simply a name change but an investment in creating a unique product with this hotel."
        Bhula purchased his first hotel in the area in Sylvania. He experienced a rebranding with that hotel taking it from a Days Inn to the independent Sylvania Inn. He entered the Statesboro market with the purchase of what is now the Knights Inn on South Main in 1998. Bhula sold that property after he constructed the Comfort Inn in 2002 next to Loco's on the bypass. The Comfort Inn originally included 59 rooms. He later added 19 more rooms and a conference center to the hotel bringing it to 78 rooms.
        In 2006, Bhula built the 56 room Hometown Inn and later rebranded it to a Studio 6 which is part of the Motel 6 brand.
        Bhula's three hotel properties in Statesboro have a combined room count of 197 making him the owner of the largest number of hotel rooms in town. He is investing nearly $1 million in renovating all three hotel properties this year. He said the renovations are needed to keep the properties fresh and to meet the requirements of the hotel brands for the Comfort Inn and Studio 6 properties.
        According to Becky Davis, executive director of the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau, there are currently 1,169 hotel rooms in Bulloch County. In 2016, the hotel industry generated more thanr $16 million in revenue in Bulloch County alone.
        Bhula's family immigrated to the U.S. when he was only 12. He grew up in a 17-room hotel owned and operated by his parents. Now Bhula is one of the leading hotel owners and operators in the Southeastern U.S. In addition to Statesboro and Sylvania, Bhula owns hotels throughout the region, including Savannah and Brunswick.
        "In addition to being a wonderful businessman, Andy is very giving," Davis said. "He has served twice as president of the SCVB and hosts an annual golf tournament that generates funds for some of his favorite local charities. As a member of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association he continues to be recognized as the best of the best. We are excited about Andy's newest project with the Eagles Nest and know he will ensure it is a great success."
        Bhula hopes to have the renovations completed at the Eagles Nest Inn in time for the arrival of GSU students in August.


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