THIS SUMMER, AS the Spring Creek wildfire immolated thousands of acres of Colorado land, emergency workers with the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management found shelter at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Alamosa in Alamosa, Colorado. Last month, the agency officially recognized the hotel, its staff and California-based owner Sunni “Sunny” Tolani for their efforts.
Tolani said his staff’s action is part of his business and personal philosophy and social assistance is a cornerstone of his hospitality company, the Prince Organization, with a focus on providing relief for the victims of natural disasters. It coordinates relief efforts between local police and fire departments and the company’s hotels in the area as soon as Tolani or his staff hear about an impending disaster, he said.
He previously joined numerous other Asian American hoteliers in donating to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, last year. Previously, he has supported Concordia University Irvine’s Teen Entrepreneur Academy, and, as a long-time member of AAHOA, he has supported several other causes.
“For me, it’s not just about dollars and cents,” Tolani said. “It’s about giving back to the community.”
The Spring Fire was the third-largest wildfire in Colorado history, according to the Denver Post. It burned more than 108,000 acres and 200 homes, allegedly starting after a man failed to fully extinguish his cooking fire while camping.
Other Colorado hotels that helped in similar ways during the Spring Fire also received certificates, said Micki Trost, CDHSEM strategic communications director and public information officer.
“They were nice and professional and we wanted to thank them for that,” Trost said.
The certificate thanks the hotel staff and Tolani for their professionalism and accommodating the agency’s needs with little advance notice. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Alamosa General Manager Deborah Clark said in an e-mail to Tolani that helping, as he always said, was simply the right thing to do.
“We have converted our conference room into a bunk house for firefighters and police officers with comfortable beds, pillows, amenity baskets with toiletries and a special treat on each pillow, a bit of ‘teddy bear’ love,” Clark said.
Unlike some other properties, Clark did not raise prices at the Alamosa hotel.
“We held on to our rates set in the morning throughout the night and waived pet fees and service-animal fees,” she said. “We reached out to the local police and firefighters to let them know since they are in the line of fire they can stop in anytime to have free hot breakfast.”
The hotel also offered a special rate for evacuees and waived the pet fees and cancellation policy. They worked with a local restaurant to provide food and bottled water to the first responders.