Sunil Wadhwani Beat All the Odds to Achieve Success in McAllen Hotels
By Space Coast Daily // April 11, 2023
Brownsville, Texas isn’t a very well-known city. In fact, its biggest claim to fame is having the second-highest poverty rate in the nation, behind only neighboring McAllen, Texas.
Both cities lie in the warm and sunny Rio Grande Valley, just north of Mexico, but both have proven to be lands of opportunity for Sunil Wadhwani and his family.
After being born in Asia, Sunil’s parents immigrated to the United States when he was six years old. After several years in the Dallas metropolitan area, the young family moved farther south, settling in Brownsville and opening a retail/wholesale store. Although the Wadhwanis struggled financially, they worked hard and were able to provide a modest living for themselves. As far as they were concerned, they were living the American Dream.
Sunil witnessed firsthand the ups and downs of his parents’ entrepreneurial journey, and ultimately their example led to his own professional path of owning his own businesses. Now the proud owner of eight hotels, with a ninth in the works, Sunil credits his parents as his “heroes and inspiration,” has provided him with everything he needed to succeed in life.
Much like his parents, Sunil’s greatest joy in life isn’t his business, but his family. Proudly married for 35 years, with four children and three grandchildren, they are at the center of all of his endeavors. But the hotelier’s booming multi-million dollar company and burgeoning real estate portfolio are nothing to sneeze at either.
Now nearing 60, Sunil had never set out to own hotels. During his formative years, he was much more interested in sports than in school, and he chose to forego college in favor of working with his parents. For seven years, he learned alongside them in their store, driven only by a desire to be in business for himself.
At 25, Sunil and his high school sweetheart moved about an hour away to McAllen, where Sunil finally opened his first business. His retail store differed from that of his parents, specializing in electronics and fine watches. As the market demanded it, he moved into a highly successful online store and also began selling on Amazon. He and his new wife also started their family, making this an even more exciting time for the young entrepreneur.
Over the years, Sunil watched as Amazon grew to eclipse his watch business, and he eventually sold off his online store. Although he considers this one of his biggest failures in business, he would ultimately land on his feet; unfortunately, he had one more large-scale failure to overcome before that happened.
After exiting the retail industry, Sunil decided to try his hand at real estate development. Just as he launched a 20-acre housing development project, the market crashed, and he left real estate as quickly as he had entered it.
Eleven years after opening his first business, in 2000, Sunil was fortunate enough to have an entirely new opportunity, in hospitality. He became a new franchisee with La Quinta Inn & Suites, opening a 65-room inn in Pharr, Texas.
Growth & Loss
This new venture was exciting for Sunil, but challenging in more ways than one. As he learned the ins and outs of a new industry, his wife was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She went to Houston to receive treatment and was gone for several months, leaving Sunil with their four children and his hotel. With his mother’s help, they were able to welcome his wife home when she went into remission.
Unfortunately, their joy was short-lived, as their youngest son was diagnosed with leukemia around the same time. He had to leave the area to receive treatment until a clinic opened close enough for him to be with his family. He lost his battle with leukemia when he was only 8 years old.
Even more driven to succeed and honor his son’s legacy of joy and strength, Sunil continued to grow his real estate and hotel portfolios. He became a franchisee with Motel 6, and his properties can be found in McAllen, Mercedes, Mission, Pharr, and Weslaco.
In 2020, Sunil partnered with Marriott to open the TownePlace Suites San Antonio Northwest at The RIM, a 109-suite extended-stay hotel. After years of elevating his properties through excellent management and impeccable maintenance, the opportunity to work with a prestigious brand like Marriott was another major career milestone for Sunil.
The Best is Yet to Come for Sunil Wadhwani
Throughout his career, Sunil has been honored as Franchise of the Year multiple times for both La Quinta and Motel 6, along with various other achievements. He has successfully managed a company that earns more than $8.5 million each year, while maintaining full control of all decisions on management, operations, finances, and employees. He employs more than 120 people and personally manages interactions with more than 100 vendors on a daily basis.
As a hands-on owner who travels to nearly all of his hotels each day, Sunil meets with his management team and guides all operational decisions, making sure to stay abreast of every situation as it arises. Even with a portfolio of almost 1,000 rooms, as well as other holdings that include five rental buildings, three townhomes, and several undeveloped properties throughout the Rio Grande Valley, Sunil isn’t slowing down yet.
Before he thinks about retirement, in which he envisions being surrounded by his close family, he would like to increase his hotel portfolio to 1,000 rooms in each brand that he franchises with.
It’s been an unexpected journey, marked by dramatic highs and lows both personally and professionally, but Sunil Wadhwani has proven that no matter your circumstances, your education, or your location, the American Dream is alive and well – and attainable. This boy raised in Brownsville is living proof.