The story of the Olympia area’s newest hotel, the La Quinta in Tumwater, begins in 1976 in a small, 20-room hotel in Auburn.

That’s when businessman Herry Sandhu bought his first Puget Sound-area lodging. It’s still in the family. From that purchase, Sandhu expanded to several more properties throughout the region, including small hotels around Monroe and Seattle.

“The kids were growing up. All of it has been a challenge, but it’s been fun to go out and take a big risk,” Sandhu remembered. “At our first hotel, we were the housekeepers. We were the maintenance crew. We were the painters. We did everything that we had to in order to make that property work.”

From that first Auburn lodging, the family expanded its sites over the next four decades throughout Puget Sound, most recently to the new Tumwater La Quinta. The groundbreaking took place in October, with the grand opening scheduled for next June. Or even earlier, if the weather proves fair.

Jeffrey Escobar, the current Auburn La Quinta general manager, who has been tapped for the general manager

position at the new La Quinta Tumwater, said the property might have 15 employees to start.

“We’re trying to see how how we’re going to to with the business market and booking our meeting space,” he said. “We’re creating a place where people can have a comfortable room with all of the amenities, but also with public spaces that they can sit back and relax in.”

What Escobar is referring to is the upscale lounge and bar that will complement the lobby of the 80-unit hotel. Apartment-style rooms will have all the modern looks and amenities, and suites will feature complete kitchens with full refrigerators and two-burner stoves. When finished, the La Quinta Tumwater will also have an indoor pool and hot tub, an exercise room, free Wi-Fi, and a convenience food market.

“It was the visibility to the express freeway that attracted us to this location,” said S & B Hospitality director of operations and La Quinta Tumwater owner Satpal Sohal, who purchased the hotel with his wife. This is is their their fifth lodging in Washington state and Oregon, and their first in Thurston County.

At the groundbreaking, he explained, “We researched and the market, and it showed that for around this location there has never been a property that specifically caters to government and business clientele.”

Sohal, whose father-in-law is Herry Sandhu, and who has

himself been in the hotel business for more than 10 years, is excited about the new construction. And he has plenty of moral support from family members.

One is Paul Sandhu, vice president of business development for Construct ONE Hotel Builders and General Contractors, who was on hand for the groundbreaking. Sandu, whose father is Herry, is also continuing the hotelier legacy as the owner of the Tacoma’s Red Lion Hotel & Convention Center and the Red Lion Suites in Federal Way.

Of Sohal,” he emphasized, “He’s one of our most engaging hotel owners. He will work hard to do everything it takes to provide his guests with a good experience there.”

About the construction of the La Quinta, he said, “This new location is exciting, and we are proud of it.”

City of Tumwater manager John Doan added that the new La Quinta will help fill in the lodging picture in general for Tumwater.

“In the overall Tumwater Brewery plan, it's one of the action steps we identified for development,” Doan explained. “Our hope is that this hotel project continues the construction along the boulevard to the brewery.”

Tumwater business manager John Darnell agreed that the hotel is a boon for the city, and an injection of life into the

burgeoning Tumwater Brewery District business area.

Construction inspector Pat Campbell said that although the site has been a challenge from a building standpoint, “It’s a primary piece of land where anybody would want to build a project.”

Nicole Thissell, assistant general manager of the La Quinta in Auburn, also attended the groundbreaking.

“I’ve been in hospitality for nine years, and this La Quinta location is a perfect match for government workers, as well as business travelers and the whole leisure market,” she said. “It's right off the highway, right by the capital and right near the Tumwater Brewery Project. That makes it a great place to be based.”

But perhaps the most proud person on site is Herry Sandhu, whose hotelier family legacy now continues past 40 years and down into Thurston County.

“My advice for anyone who wants to get into this business is to have the cash to start with, and plan to work hard, because success doesn't just happen,” he said. “This will be a success because it’s a great location, and it has a built-in customer market.”