Sunil Wadhwani – A Titan Of Hospitality And The Real American Dream in McAlle, Texas

Despite focusing on CEOs and some of the most successful people in the world, it’s rare for CEO Weekly to have the opportunity to profile a better example of the American Dream in action than Sunil Wadhwani. 

Starting with parents who emigrated with only $100 to their name and winding up one of the titans of the Texan Hospitality business is no small feat. But, between his parent’s cleverness and determination and his own ingenuity and willingness to work hard, that is exactly the path Sunil Wadhwani has carved. 

Who Is Sunil Wadhwani Of McAllen, Texas?

Sunil Wadhwani is, first and foremost, his parent’s son. Having emigrated to the United States from Asia when he was small, Sunil was not a paragon of academic achievement. Instead, perhaps like most boys his age, he was more interested in sports, specifically soccer and football, and in having fun. 

His parents weren’t the world’s best businesspeople either, which perhaps makes their story all the more impressive. But, with a family to provide for in a new country, they were willing to take risks and work hard to make their endeavors succeed. 

There were plenty of successes and failures in Sunil Wadhwani’s early life, times when things were hard, and times when they were particularly good. But through it all, from going to school to later helping his parents run their store, Sunil was taught persistence, hard work, dedication, and how hard work can bring stability and success to a family. 

He took those lessons with him, and sharing in the family’s entrepreneurial spirit, struck out to make a business legacy for himself in addition to the one that his parents had already created. 

How Did Sunil Wadhwani Get Started In Hospitality?

Sunil Wadhwani wasn’t necessarily born to be in the hospitality business. He didn’t inherit an existing hospitality empire, and he didn’t even start his career in hospitality. 

Instead, Sunil Wadhwani emerged from his childhood with one of the most important lessons for anyone trying to achieve the American Dream – that failure is not the end of the story. 

Early in his career, Wadhwani proved both his business chops, and that timing can be everything when you’re a working entrepreneur. He started a small online retail empire, seeing some amount of success in the early days of the industry. However, like many other small online retailers in the early days, his business eventually failed in the wake of the Amazon takeover. 

But that failure wouldn’t stop him. 

Sunil Wahdiwani then went on to have another failure, this one perhaps his largest, starting a real estate development company just ahead of the 2008 housing crash. 

Again, though, failure was not the end of the story. Unlike some entrepreneurs who have one great idea and fizzle out or whose one great career achievement comes early, never to be replicated, Wadhwani was just getting started. 

At age 35, Sunil Wadhwani recognized an opportunity when he heard it knocking. This was when La Quinta announced that they would be accepting franchisees for the chain. Wadhwani became one of La Quinta’s first franchisees, taking over a hotel with over 65 rooms in 2000. 

You’ll note that this was a bit before the crash in 2008 when his real estate company struggled. Of course, that’s because Wadhwani, like many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, didn’t always limit himself to a single project. 

Regardless, the hospitality business would soon grow to be something more for Wadhwani. Since the opening of his La Quinta hotel, Wadhwani has continued to grow his hospitality empire, and in the last 22 years since opening the first, he’s opened 8 more hotels, with a 9th about to open. 

The secret to his success? By now you might expect that it’s a combination of business savvy and hard work. Sunil Wadhwani’s efforts as a CEO are a daily job, visiting each of the locations within a reasonable distance of his home, working closely with his hotel management teams, and problem-solving right alongside the people on the ground in each of his hotels. 

What Hotels Does Sunil Wadhwani Own?

These days Sunil Wadhwani owns about 1,000 rooms in South Texas, spread across his 8 La Quinta/Wyndham hotels, as well as Motel 6, and more recently, Marriott hotels. 

The 9th, Marriot hotel, which is still in development, is a particular achievement for Wadhwani, who, whetting his appetite for hospitality on La Quinta/Wyndham and Motel 6 locations, has long aimed for more prestigious brands with more responsibility and that creates a different kind of stay. 

No matter what way you look at it, between the distance between his current hotels and the new project, Sunil Wadhwani’s latest project shows that he’s still not afraid of a challenge or ready to stop spreading his wings when it comes to the Hospitality industry. 

Given that one of Sunil Wadhwani’s motivations is to leave a legacy his family can build on, as he himself did, maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. 


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