Tuesday, November 29, 2022

New motel hopes to bring more tourism to Williamsburg

Formerly America's Best Value Inn, Motel Zuma opened in January and plans to modernize the the building and bring more tourists to the area. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)
Formerly America’s Best Value Inn, Motel Zuma opened in January and plans to modernize the the building and bring more tourists to the area. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)

Lodgings in Lightfoot are getting a face lift as the former America’s Best Value Inn transforms into Motel Zuma.

The property was purchased by Zuma Elsamahy in October 2017 and in January, Elsamahy stepped away from the franchise to start his own motel.

Elsamahy is also the owner and chief executive officer of Signature Tours in Washington, D.C. which provides a variety of tours for the city. About 21 years ago he came to the United States from Egypt to continue his career in travel and hospitality.

But he always had an interest in historic areas. When he and his family visited Williamsburg a few years ago, he said he fell in love with the area.

“The reason we chose Williamsburg to open our business is because it is a beautiful and historic place,” he said. “This is where the first government was, there’s so much here but there could be so much more.”

Darlene Darden, who has been the general manager on the property for nine years, is more than thrilled to see new changes coming to the business.

“He’s following a dream that I’ve always had,” she said. “He not only listens to customers but he listens to the people that know and love this building.”

In early January, the business was decked out with blue and orange signs proudly displaying the new name.

Around that time, renovations to the building began as well. In the past month, the motel replaced the roofing on both buildings and redone the dining area. In addition, the carpeted floors have been replaced with hardwood and various improvements are being made on the 128 rooms on the property.

As the building changes each day, Darden is on the property to ensure everything runs smoothly.

“The minute I walked in this door nine years ago, it was my heart,” she said. “I know this property and seen the changes, and this is the best thing that’s happened to it in a long time.”

Elsamahy recognized when he made the purchase that the property would need repairs because it was older. In fact, everyday Darden looks at framed photographs that show the building before many of the businesses that now surround the area were built.

She said she likes to look at how far the area has come in order to see how far it will go.

And Elsamahy hopes his small business will help Williamsburg grow even further.

“The city really needs to be promoted better than what you see right now,” Elsamahy said. “I would like to have not only my business growing, I would like to see every business growing because it’s good for the county.”

The building is undergoing a series of renovations, including updating the dining area and the bedrooms. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)
The building is undergoing a series of renovations, including updating the dining area and the bedrooms. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)

One of the ways that Elsamahy plans to do this is by starting a bus tour that will travel from Washington, D.C. to Williamsburg. Visitors on the tour will have accommodations at his motel for the night and get to see the historic area in the region, he said.

Elsamahy plans to start the service in April when the renovations are finished. Until then 70 of the total rooms will be available to visitors.

“We want to help put Williamsburg on the map,” Elsamahy said. “I believe in my heart that we’re going to make something here.”

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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