HAZARD — American Elite in Hazard held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their grand opening of the hotel on Friday.
The hotel used to be part of the Super 8 franchise, but owners broke away from Super 8 and decided it would serve their customers better if they reopened under the American Elite banner so they could make changes more independently.
American Elite is family owned. One of the owners, Rajpal Bal, travelled from Sans Francisco to take part in the grand opening.
Perry County Judge-Executive Scott Alexander and Hazard Mayor Jimmy Lindon were present for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Big Daddy’s BBQ supplied food and drinks during the grand opening and open house.
Judge Alexander offered his appreciation to the owners of American Elite for believing in Perry County and Hazard.
He told Bal this, “On behalf of Perry County Fiscal Court, thank you for believing in this community, believing in this county, believing in this town and are here to help anyway we can.”
Despite the struggles Bal and her family faced when reopening the hotel, she said she knew she had support from the community.
“I just can’t thank you guys enough. I see that Hazard has all of the gems in the whole United States. I really appreciate you all,” said Bal.
Perry County Chamber of Commerce President Janet Smith said she was glad American Elite was here in Hazard.
“Raj is a great person and she wants to be a good community partner. We are here to help her and we are glad to have them here,” said Smith.
After the ribbon cutting, employees were honored for their hard work with gifts from Bal.
“They are my family,” said Bal of her employees.
Bal said one of the reasons why the family broke away from Super 8 was because they wanted to make changes without any hurdles and they could only do that if they became independent.
“We wanted to keep this a family friendly place,” said Bal.
Another reason they broke away from Super 8 was to cut cost.
Despite their financial trouble, Bal said she was proud that her family didn’t have to let go a single employee.
She hopes when business picks ups that American Elite can contribute to the community by hiring more employees.
“My heart is here. My people are here,” said Bal.
Bal said she treasured an exchange between her and Mayor Jimmy Lindon.
“He told me that I was a child of Hazard,” said Bal.
She said the community’s response has been phenomenal and that Mayor Lindon has always been generous with his time during their meetings.
They recently finished remodeling some of the rooms and have several rooms with Jacuzzi hot tubs.
American Elite also added a gym, something they couldn’t do under the Super 8 banner.
A conference room was also added to the hotel. Bal hopes the conference room will allow more opportunities for businesses to come visit hotel and use the room.
Some of the future projects Bal said were creating rooms that could be rented monthly so that travelling nurses didn’t have to rent rooms at a nightly rate anymore.
Bal also said she is always opened to ideas that the community has and said that without the community, there is no American Elite.
TJ Caudill is a reporter for The Hazard Herald and he can be reached at 606-629-3245.