Hotelier shares Christmas spirit

Sara Ratzlaff, front office manager at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Alamosa, holds a batch of cookies hotel staff will take to local firefighters, police and sheriff’s deputies for Christmas.

ALAMOSA — For the staff at California-based hotelier Sunil “Sunny” Tolani’s properties in Colorado and Texas, the spirit of giving is alive and well.

Tolani, who in October received the Nelson Mandela Leadership Award from the Non Resident Indian Welfare Society during The International Congress of Non-Resident India, said he encourages good acts by his employees on a regular basis. Through a program called “Seva,” which means community service, his company offers free rooms and meals to those who have friends or family in hospitals, nursing homes or treatment centers during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays.

“We do spend a lot time with seniors, send them fresh baked cookies especially during the holidays as holidays can make them sad and lonely, depressed and anxious as they see others joyous,” Tolani said. “We do our very best to lift their spirits.”

The holiday spirit isn’t limited to just the holidays, said Deborah Clark, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Alamosa, which Tolani owns.

“We always try to give to the community in any way, shape of form,” she said.

In September, the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management recognized Clark’s hotel.

“We set up our conference room as a bunk room for firefighters,” Clark said.

At Christmas Clark’s main charitable mission is to spread the spirit of the holidays to local first responders. “We bake huge trays of cookies and take them to the police, fire and sheriff stations,” she said.

The community service is more than just an exercise in sentiment, though. Clark said it’s also good for business.

“It strengthens our relationships with all the folks we work with during the year,” she said. “I always have police cars in the parking lot, which is a good thing for a hotel to have.”


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