Hotel remodel brings a bit of Hawaii to Arizona Avenue - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Hotel remodel brings a bit of Hawaii to Arizona Avenue

May 28th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Hotel remodel brings a bit of Hawaii to Arizona Avenue

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

The Aloha boutique motel on Arizona Avenue in Chandler transformed many times on its way to a grand reopening with a Hawaiian motif.

When owners Bill Simmonds and John Hylton first looked at the aging motel that first opened in 1950, they were thinking of converting it into apartments.

“We kind of had planned to do more like, long-term, apartment living,” Simmonds said. “That was the original plan.”

“We bought it in late ’19, and it appeared it would go toward apartments, because that’s what Bill and I do,” Hylton said.

The pandemic changed those plans.

“We thought the Airbnb might be our move,” Simmonds said.

The Aloha is now a 26-room boutique motel that has been upgraded to modern standards. Each room has its own kitchen area and modern design in keeping with the Aloha theme.

Simmonds and Hylton said since they began reopening it, they sell out most nights. On May 7, they fully reopened the final wing of rooms and staged an event that brought out Mayor Kevin Hartke and the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.

Politics played a role in the decision to switch from apartments to a motel, something the two pilots had never done before.

Simmonds said the government issued a moratorium on evictions during the early days of the pandemic. He said some tenants just refused to pay their rents during the moratorium.

That left them with little appetite for adding more apartments to their portfolio. But to get the Aloha into good enough shape to be a desirable bed-and-breakfast would take a lot of work.

“It would have been easier to tear it down, I’m sure, and rebuild, but you couldn’t build something like this again,” Hylton said. “So we wanted to keep what it was. But it was everything from underground, through the walls, it’s all new. It wasn’t easy.”

Simmonds and Hylton got into buying apartments as a way to invest for the long-term as pilots in the Seattle area. Simmonds, who is older, is now retired from flying and has been a mentor for Hylton for the past 10 years.

“I’ve always had a passion for real estate,” Simmonds said. “My dad was a realtor … I remember going to look at a house with him one time, I can still smell the … wood. The idea of owning a house was intriguing.”

When Hylton and his family moved to the Valley in 2018, they decided to begin looking for properties in this area. In addition to the Aloha, they also bought Casa Blanca, which is a similar motel a few blocks north of Aloha on Arizona Avenue. It is also in need of refreshing.

However,  Simmonds says they want to see how the Aloha performs over a year before they decide what to do with Casa Blanca.

So far, the Aloha is off to a great start. If it sustains it, then they could do a similar makeover for that motel.

“Our reviews have been stellar,” Hylton said. “The people driving by are grateful to see it come back to life. We ran into several snags along the way, but we just kind of got through it, and we’re thrilled with it now.”