Family, friends, local and state dignitaries, and Prospect Heights officials last week celebrated Lakhani Hospitality Group's new Ramada Plaza Hotel, 1090 S. Milwaukee Ave.
More than 100 guests toured the hotel, a former Fairbridge Inn renovated at a cost of $5.2 million, and the Lakhani Group gave a check for $10,000 to St. Alphonsis Liguori Parish.
The hotel, which opened Aug. 25 adjacent to Chicago Executive Airport, features 139 guest rooms, 5,000 square feet of meeting space, a boutique four-lane bowling alley for private parties, a fitness center and a Village Inn Pizzeria and Sports Bar.
The Ramada Plaza is Skokie-based Lakhani Hospitality's fifth. The family also is the owners/operators of five gasoline stations and three Bar Louie restaurants.
"We are very excited about this hotel and the growth of Lakhani Hospitality," Sheila Lakhani Gilani, chief operating officer for Lakhani Hospitality, said in a news release.
"My father, Mansoorali Lakhani, started his first business over 30 years ago," then bought the Holiday Inn Skokie in 2004 as his first hotel and embarked on a $15 million renovation to build a business "quite remarkable for a man who left his home in Pakistan at the age of 19 to pursue the American dream," she said.
Although it has a Wheeling address, the Ramada Plaza Chicago North Shore is located in Prospect Heights.
The location was discovered by Gilani's brother, Karim Lakhani, who worked for the family business for two years but has since chosen to pursue a law degree at Harvard University.
"Karim was the one who originally discovered the hotel when he spent a weekend in Chicago at a 36-hour boot camp for startup businesses," Gilani said. "He pursued the opportunity and convinced our father that the Fairbridge Inn could be renovated and would be a great addition for Lakhani Hospitality."
"This hotel was in desperate need of repair and renovation," said Gilani, who has worked by her father's side for more than 10 years.
"Just like he did with our other properties, he put his heart and soul into this project to create a truly beautiful hotel; ideal for business and leisure guests."