The Coronado Times earlier reported that the Villa Capri Motel was sold on October 13. Unlike the sale of the buildings known as the Coronado Assemblage, the Villa Capri was sold to a local family. Sajan Hansji and his wife have lived in Coronado for several years. His sister and parents also have homes here.
Hansji was attracted to the Villa Capri for some of the same reasons that many Coronadans are attracted to it. He told me that he rode his bike by it nearly every day and was struck by its character.
The sale of the Villa Capri was very low key. Hansji said that he “got wind of the sale through a colleague in the industry” and that he competed against several other buyers (none local, to his recollection) for the motel. He said, “What was most important to me was that I wanted the hotel to stay in the community.”
Many in the community have expressed concern about the fate of the historically designated neon sign and of the motel itself. Not to worry. Hansji said, “My plan or vision is to restore it to its glory days. We have a plan to refresh it, which has been approved.”
According to Hansji, the hotel needs a good deal of “cleaning up” – replacing old mattresses, carpet, renovating some of the kitchens, etc., to bring it up to “3-star” level. But the current plan is not to demolish and rebuild. He admitted that if you look at his website, J Street Hospitality, you will see that he has often partnered with Marriott and Hilton on his hotel projects. This one, he said, is different. He is not planning to partner with either of these hotel groups, but rather intends to keep the motel independent.
For the near future, the Villa Capri will stay mostly the same. Along with the “clean-up” of rooms, J Street is currently working toward upgrading the lobby and painting the outside of the building. In the longer run, Hansji said, “maybe we will add rooms; I’m not sure how many more rooms we could get with the current parking.” He said he is meeting with the city in the near future to discuss what the parameters of change might be.
Hansji said that even if the hotel remains fundamentally the same (e.g., no new rooms added) and his company can simply run it better than it has been run – more efficient operations and modern reservation system – the increase in revenue and profitability would be enough to make the $6 million plus investment worth it. “I knew it was a good piece of real estate for the long run and we needed to keep it local and keep its character.”
Hansji has a long history in the hotel business. He grew up in Orange County and hotels were the family business. For his undergraduate degree he went to Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. Since graduating, he has been working in entrepreneurial positions in hotel development and real estate investment.
Over the next month or so, the Villa Capri Motel will be undergoing its upgrade – just in time for holiday bookings.