WILMINGTON – Peter Bhai grew up in the hospitality business, and when he first left it, he thought he was leaving it for good. But his entrepreneurial spirit drew him back to the business and now he and his wife Pinky run SSN Hotels, a company that has managed 24 hotels in the Mid-Atlantic region.
When Bhai first came to America 40 years ago, his parents and his sister worked at a motel outside Atlantic City, N.J. He first thought he would be an engineer, but eventually the family business won out and he oversaw his first hotel in Binghamton, N.Y.
“Growing up, I wasn’t just cleaning the rooms and doing maintenance, I was also doing income sheets and balance statements by the time I was 18,” Bhai recalled. “That first hotel was really in poor condition, but then we sold it four years later.”
After arriving in DelawaSSN Hotelsre in 1997 to buy a second hotel, the Bhais worked 18 hour days to repair it, and over time it brought in more money. The revenue went into investing in more hotels – and history would repeat itself. Some years down the line, the Bhais started to build their own hotels with major brands like Marriott and Holiday Inn.
Today, the couple has four hotels in Delaware, including the Four Points by Sheraton on Old Baltimore Pike and the Candlewood Suites on Route 896. SSN Hotels manages another 19 in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. As the company grew, revenues grew about 20% year over year.
SSN Hotels has more than 250 employees to date and is currently building two more hotels, including one in the First State. Bhai plans on demolishing several other hotels and rebuilding in the near future.
Community service is an important part of the SSN culture, with each hotel working with a different effort that holds a special place for a team member, including Clean The World, Wigs for Wishes, Philabundance and children’s hospitals in each state, among others.
“Certainly some sacrifices were made, and there was a lot of hard work behind it. We can say we’re proud of the company we made and we’re comfortable now,” Bhai said. “My wife continues to be supportive, and she is my right hand as we continue to grow our company.”