This summer, Hari Johl looked at new hotel properties to buy. Johl is the chairman of Global Capital Group (GCG), a real estate investment firm that has its operations office in Roseville. Johl found the listing for the National Hotel in Jackson on the Sperry Commercial Global Affiliates website, and he called broker Rick Lahkar about it.
A few months later, on October 4, escrow closed on the National Hotel and GCG became the hotel’s new owner. On October 15, I talked with Vice President of Operations J.D. Singh (pictured at right) about plans for the National Hotel…including when it will reopen.
How They Got Here
Singh trained to be a medical doctor at UC Riverside, but soon after he got married, he decided to join his brothers-in-law Hari and Steve Johl as partners in GCG. All three brothers are native Californians—the Johl brothers grew up in Yuba City and Singh grew up in Orange County. Hari Johl has been involved in the hotel business for the last 25 years, and Steve Johl has 30 years of experience in real estate investments.
GCG operates several hotels around the country. The National Hotel is GCG’s first California hotel, but Singh added that the company is working on more developments in northern California. What’s more, the company is also involved in land development and self-storage properties.
Hari Johl didn’t know anything about Jackson when he looked at the listing for the National Hotel, but he was intrigued by what he saw in the listing. GCG operates hotels under various brands including Holiday Inn Express, Travelodge, and Hilton. Johl thought the National Hotel would be a great fit for the Hilton’s boutique brand, Tapestry Collections by Hilton, and invited Hilton representatives to tour the hotel with him and Singh in August. They were amazed by what they saw.
Reopening This Month
“The National Hotel is iconic, but it’s more than that,” Singh said. “There’s so much history that I never knew until I came here a couple of months ago. With this hotel, we’re stepping back in time.” He also had high praise for the hotel’s former owner. “Stan Lukowicz did a fabulous job—better than we could have envisioned it.”
Singh said the goal is to reopen the National Hotel for guests by the end of October. He took me on a tour of the hotel and it’s clear that it could have taken guests that night. And the hotel lobby looks the same as it did when I met people at the hotel for a business meeting in 2019.
However, there is still some work that needs to be done before the hotel opens, such as cleaning carpets, hiring employees, and getting equipment installed. “We want to hire local people and we’re using local vendors as much as we can,” Singh said. “We’re using a local HVAC company to fix some equipment and we’re also getting computer support from RJ Pro, which has an office in Jackson.” Singh added that when the hotel opens, it will appear almost exactly as it did before it closed.
Historic and Boutique
GCG is changing many of its hotels to fall under the Hilton brand. “Hilton trusts us because projects we’ve undertaken have gone well,” Singh said. Even though the National Hotel is going to be under the Tapestry Collections by Hilton banner, the hotel will keep its local décor and historic feel. “We don’t want to lose the appreciation of where the hotel started,” Singh said. “This is not our hotel. This is Jackson’s hotel—the community’s hotel.”
Singh noted there are two reasons to operate as a Hilton property. The first is to have high standards for operating a hotel befitting one of the two top hotel companies in the world. (The other is Marriott.) The other is that Hilton has a lot of marketing clout that can help spread the word about Jackson as a tourist destination. Combined with the recently installed Tesla Supercharger stations, the National Hotel will help draw people from the Bay Area and other parts of California to Jackson.
The National Hotel won’t be promoted as a Hilton property until March 2022. This will allow GCG and Hilton to get acclimated to running the hotel during the holiday season and give time for Hilton to make some changes, including:
- Changing some carpeting and paint colors.
- Putting new furniture and carpeting in the bar area.
- Converting the original deli room, and later the Louisiana meeting room, into a breakfast room for guests.
- Making overall changes to make the experience more uniform for every guest.
As for the restaurant that was once Stanley’s Steakhouse, it won’t reopen until next March. “We’re trying to figure out the restaurant,” Singh said. “We have big plans for it, and we’re working with Hilton to bring a high-end steakhouse there that will benefit the community.”
Singh talked often about community involvement during our interview. “Our goal is to be a part of the community,” he said, “and everyone has been very welcoming and supportive.” He added that he’s been talking with some of the business owners on Main Street as well as the Chamber of Commerce about using facilities for various events.
“I’m always getting feedback about how to make this place better,” Singh said, “and I’ve already received a lot of great ideas like connecting with county wineries to do a winery tour.” He noted that the community knows the history and culture, so he invites people to e-mail him with suggestions. “We want to work hand in hand with the community to make the National Hotel for Jackson and all of Amador County.”
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