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Meet Leila Bedoian of The Local – St. Augustine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leila Bedoian. 

Hi Leila, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Adam and I grew up in the hospitality industry and went on to work in corporate hotels as careers. We met at a hotel conference for the management company we worked for, and the rest is history! We wanted to invest our savings into something, and when we saw this 21 room 50’s motel up for sale in our very own city, we HAD to have it. Due to the pandemic, we had a hard time getting the loan approval, but after about eight months, we were able to get to the closing table. 

We closed the hotel and started making improvements. We knew we wanted to bring back the retro Florida vibes lost over the years and make technology updates. We didn’t want to run it like a traditional roadside motel but design a modern experience. We partnered with tech-forward vendors to create a digital experience. With the help of a company called Virdee, we were able to develop a contactless check-in process. You book online, download the Virdee app, complete a couple of requirements and then get access to your digital key! It’s literally as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

We want our guests to have a unique experience that may get lost at a large brand hotel. You can stay like a local when you stay at The Local – St. Augustine. We partnered with a local bike rental company to put bikes right on property, a local gym where guests get full access to, and the app will include a guide showing you all the places’ locals love! We must be an asset to the local community as well. Ensuring that our business brings more business to local businesses is crucial. We also want to be good neighbors by having a product that everyone can stand behind. 

Our 3 to 5-year goal is to find more historic motels, bring them back to life, and continue building our digital experience! 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Goodness, we have had more issues pop up than I can remember, probably. We really had a hard time with financing due to the pandemic. Banks did not want to give loans for hotels. We both wanted to give up many times, but we just knew it would be a good investment, and we really wanted to give the motel some life! Luckily, due to our experience in the hotel industry, we found a local bank to help us, and we were able to get a supplemental SBA loan. However, we did have to put our family home up as collateral – so we have to be successful! 

There were more along the way to opening day. We spent way more money-making improvements than anticipated. We wanted the motel so bad; there were things that we overlooked. Lesson learned there! We should have made the seller make more repairs and investigate more items during the due diligence period. We also needed to be more realistic in the cost of repairs and do more research on vendors. 

We spent so much time and money repairing the building and doing redesigns, we didn’t spend enough on the marketing portion building up to the opening day. We didn’t have a single room the first two weeks we were opened because we were so late on marketing. We couldn’t get our property live on google because of the previous business. Ugh, it was awful. We had this beautiful product, a great digital experience, and nothing to show for it. I had images of us having to move into the motel-like real-life Schitt’s Creek because we would lose the house! 

Luckily, I was able to work with a local PR company, get our info updated on Google, Airbnb and through more marketing efforts, we started to fill up. We had our first sold-out night last weekend! 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Our unique digital inn offers an experience that you can’t get at most chain hotels. We provide an authentic experience, making you feel like a local during your stay. Each room is thoughtfully put together to give you a fresh and relaxing stay with a nostalgic throwback to retro Florida. Our digital experience brings multiple platforms together to put you in control of your entire experience. 

We’re within walking distance of many restaurants and local hotspots. Within minutes, you can enjoy St. Augustine’s fabulous restaurants, iconic historical sites, local shopping, and fantastic nightlife. For a day of fun in the sun, St. Augustine Beach is a short drive away. You can walk to the iconic St. Augustine Amphitheater to watch a concert then hang out for drinks at a local bar. You’ll never get bored exploring some of the most unique, breathtaking places in the world right here in St. Augustine. 

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Book your next vacation at www.thelocalinns.com. 

Follow us on all social platforms @thelocalstaugustine 

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Iris Photography
Justin Snavely

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