New Comfort Inn hotel in Medina opens today

Photos by Tom Rivers: The new Comfort Inn in Medina unofficially opens today. This photo from Wednesday evening shows Medina Sandstone Society members in the lobby and front desk area. Teddy Rhim, a Medina native and general manager of the new Comfort Inn, is shown near the front desk with clerk Robin Boyle of Waterport.

Posted 18 March 2022 at 9:02 am

By Ginny Kropf and Tom Rivers

Photo by Ginny Kropf: The hotel on Maple Ridge Road is branded is a Comfort Inn & Suites. It is owned by Medina Hospitality, a group of investors from the St. Mary’s, Pa. area.

MEDINA – A new hotel with a national brand opens unofficially today on Maple Ridge Road. The site already has many reservations throughout the year, with people taking rooms while in the area for weddings and other events, said Teddy Rhim, general manager.

“The phone has been ringing off the hook,” Rhim said. “And the meeting room is selling like crazy.”

Rhim and Todd “Booka” Hanes, one of the owners of the hotel, hosted the Medina Sandstone Society on Wednesday evening for their annual meeting. There is a display about Medina Sandstone in the front lobby. Some local Medina photos also are on the wall in the meeting room.

The hotel has 58 rooms, which include seven suites. Supply chain issues delayed the opening, but the last piece, installing cable for all of the televisions in the rooms, is now complete.

During Wednesday’s Sandstone Society meeting, Hanes unveiled the name of the meeting room as Charmtowne. He picked that name in honor of a Medina business run by Sara Calandra, mother of Gabrielle Barone.

Barone is vice president of business development for the Orleans Economic Development Agency. She pursued Hanes and his team of investors to build in Medina.

Hanes said the hotel wouldn’t be their without her encouragement – and persistence.

Todd “Booka” Hanes, one of the owners of Comfort Inn & Suites on Maple Ridge Road in Medina, is shown in one of the 58 rooms at the hotel. The Comfort Inn also has many reservations later in the year, especially among people going to weddings.

Barone had long been confident a hotel could be located in Orleans County. A feasibility study showed a hotel would in the Medina Business Park would be a success.

In 2016, Barone was on a plane going to a hotel conference in Milwaukee, when she was seated next to Hanes, a hotel developer in St. Mary’s, Pa. Hanes said they also stayed at the same hotel and had the same adjacent seats on the plane going home, allowing a lot of time for conversation.

“Gabrielle told me she wanted a hotel In Orleans County and was looking for a developer,” Hanes said Wednesday night, as he prepared for today’s soft opening of the Comfort Inn. “I told her when our project in St. Mary’s was done, if she had not found a developer to contact me.”

The rest is history. Barone was invited to the grand opening of Hanes’ hotel in St. Mary’s, and Kathy Blackburn accompanied her.

Booka Hanes pulls off the cover of the photo of Charmtowne, a ladies’ clothing store on Main Street that operated  for 15 years beginning in the late 1950s by Sara Calandra. Charmtowne will be the name for the hotel’s meeting/conference room. Teddy Rhim, left, will be the hotel’s general manager.

Hanes and several of his partners came to Orleans County, and subsequent meetings took place with then EDA director Jim Whipple, Barone and Medina mayor Mike Sidari. Medina Hospitality, the group Hanes and his partners had formed for their new hotel, broke ground on what would become the Comfort Inn in May 2019.  They were 70 percent complete when the pandemic hit 10 months later.

“All construction was shut down,” Hanes said. “When we could, we got a waiver, but contractors in other states had to quarantine for two weeks when they came into the state, and their employers did not want to pay them to sit around for two weeks.”

And so, construction stalled.

“It took a long time to put the train back on the tracks,” Hanes said. “The last few months we had issues with the supply chain, making it hard to get supplies.”

Booka Hanes unveils the photo of Charmtowne, which was operated by Gabrielle Barone’s mother. Hanes said Barone, the vice president of business development for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, was influential in convincing the development team to bring the hotel to Medina. She worked with the developers during construction challenges in the past two years of the Covid pandemic, including the supply chain shortages. “Thank you for being with us since the beginning and helping us work through the challenges,” Hanes told Barone.

Barone is thrilled with the makeup of Comfort Inn’s developers, Medina Hospitality, all of whom she said are regular, working individuals. This includes a lawyer, accountant and tool and die maker, as well as his brother, who worked for a high-end men’s clothing store.

Hanes was a restaurant owner, whose business had burned in St. Mary’s. While he waited for his insurance settlement, the city decided to create a re-development area on the block and offered to build a hotel next to Hanes’ restaurant if would give up his land.

But things moved so slow, the development fell through, so Hanes purchased another plot of ground. Then a man who was going to build a hotel couldn’t get funded and the city asked Hanes why he didn’t build one.

“I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, so I started asking friends and family,” he said.

The general partners now are Hanes, John Schatz and Mike Faulk, with Hanes as managing partner of Medina’s Comfort Inn.

Gabrielle Barone praised the commitment from Hanes and his team to bring the project to Medina. She also said she had her first job in her mother’s store when she was 13. “We want to thank you both for being here,” she said to Hanes and Rhim.

Hanes has hired a Medina native Teddy Rhim, who has years of experience in the hospitality industry. Rhim was working in West Virginia and welcomed the opportunity to come back to Medina.

Hanes explained originally the hotel was not going to be a Comfort Inn, but the opportunity to affiliate with such a large chain means bigger buying power and lower prices.

“We take pride in what we do,” Hanes said. “We respond to any complaint within 24 hours.”

Hanes said reservations have been brisk and they have booked a lot of groups coming into town for weddings. While the Comfort Inn doesn’t have a banquet hall, they do have a small bar and double meeting room capable of holding 86 people. The 58-room hotel will employ 20 to 22 people on staff. A stay at the hotel will also include breakfast.

Hanes said a ribbon cutting will be planned in the near future.

David Miller, president of the Medina Sandstone Society, presents gifts of appreciation to Rhim and Hanes while Barone thanks Hanes for bringing the new business to Medina.