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Comfort Inn is sold, extensive renovations are planned

A makeover is planned for a local hotel.

The Comfort Inn of Bemidji was recently purchased by a California businessman, Waleed Srour.

Srour said Tuesday he plans to completely update and renovate the hotel, which features 61 rooms and suites.

"We will make sure the property is very nice," he said.

The renovations are planned to emphasize comfort for customers, he said.

"Our focus will be on guest services and guest satisfaction," he said.

Srour purchased the Comfort Inn from Gary Gangelhoff, who built the hotel in 1991.

"(Srour) is a real sharp guy," Gangelhoff said. "He has a lot of knowledge of the hotel industry."

Gangelhoff said he decided to sell the Comfort Inn to explore other ventures.

"I'm looking at other opportunities and other ventures both in real estate and in marketing," he said. "I'm still staying in the hotel business."

There now are plans to remodel the entire Comfort Inn, including its rooms and the reception area, Srour said.

The cost of the renovation is expected to be around $250,000, he said.

Work is expected to begin later this year before the holidays and is expected to last at least six months.

"It should be ready by the beginning of summer," Srour said.

The hotel will remain open as renovation is planned to occur in phases, he said.

The transaction was finalized on Monday, marking his first business venture into Minnesota, he said. Once the deal was done, Srour introduced himself to the staff.

No layoffs or changes to the staff are expected, he said.

"I'm proud of our Bemidji employees," he said.

Srour said he has been working with the sellers for just more than two months. He made a visit to Bemidji in early September to scope out the hotel and the community - and was impressed.

"I loved Bemidji," he said. "Everybody was very nice, very warm, very welcoming."