Sikhs big part of city’s hotels
November 9, 2008
Malkiat S. Dhami’s face gets serious as he and his brother argue for a moment about the temperature in one of the rooms of their new hotel.
“Sixty-eight is good,” the 66-year-old Carson City businessman says. “Seventy is too hot.”
His brother, Baldev Singh, concedes the point later as Dhami shows that the hallways are six feet wide, instead of the normal five.
“When a guest come in,” Singh says, “he should feel comfortable.”
But this attention to detail and aspiration of Dhami’s has helped Sikhs including him succeed in business and come to own about a quarter of Carson City’s hotels and motels.
Dhami, who built and owns the Holiday Inn Express in Carson City, showed off his new 98-room Holiday Inn Express hotel, 2375 Market St., in Reno on Wednesday, pointing out everything from a water sculpture in the lobby to the ice machines in the hallways.
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He now plans to develop 11 acres by his Carson City hotel and is building a new Holiday Inn Express in Minden.
Dhami, who wears a turban and long white beard, said the Holiday Inn company is happy with him.
“They say, ‘We should give more franchises to you!'” he said. “‘This is nicely built!'”
Hard work is part of the Sikh culture, he said, and it is what first brought him to Carson City in 1996 when he bought the Carson City Inn after searching for months in several states.
Carson City is a friendly city and he likes it, he said, pointing to how people were understanding after the 2001 terrorist attacks when he explained in the Nevada Appeal what other Sikhs could tell by looking at him.
“They know from my face I’m from the Punjab state,” he said.
Punjab is a region in India where the majority of the 23 million Sikhs in the world live. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that has about 100,000 followers in the United States. Men are often recognizable by their turbans and long beards.
Those beards help Carson City’s Sikhs often win awards in the Nevada Day Beard Contest in the whitest and blackest categories.
Kulwant Singh Mand, owner of Americas Best Value Inn and the Quality Inn, said God has given him a good life and he should take advantage of that.
“I don’t just think someone will give me money and I’ll eat that,” he said.
But Mand, who wore a white baseball cap on top of his turban Thursday, said Sikhism followers respect other religions and oppose violence like their God expects them to do.
“He makes everybody,” he said. “He makes black, he makes white, he makes Indian.”
His 35-year-old son, Golden Singh Mand, said his family has been in Carson City for 10 years and people have always been respectful to them.
“I’ve never have to explain to anybody who I am,” said Mand, who is less orthodox than his father and does not wear a beard or turban.
Rosy Sandhu, who owns the Super 8 motel with her husband, Jessi Sandhu, said many of the 10 to 15 Sikh families in Carson City help each other, even though they didn’t meet until they came to America.
Business is a little slower this year, she said, but she’s happy she can be with her husband and children, who respect the Sikh culture.
She wears a necklace with Sikh symbols that many other Sikhs wear as a sign of religious observance.
“When I die, this goes with me,” she said.
The business the Sikhs do in Carson City is best if he can help positively develop the city, Dhami said, and residents are starting to see that.
“People have a good feeling for us,” he said.
– Contact reporter Dave Frank at email@example.com or 881-1212.