Motel owners see pop of business amid winter storm

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Between treacherous roads and rolling power outages across Texas, some travelers have decided to wait out the winter storm in New Mexico.

The surge in business came as a surprise for motel owners in the East Mountains and beyond.

"Every room sold out, obviously it’s good for business,” said Sunny Patel, owner of the Lariat Motel.

"More people are stopping here,” he added.

Patel said the demand for lodging always goes up whenever winter weather rolls through the state. After purchasing the motel back in July, Patel said business was extremely slow, but now he welcomes the change of pace.

"Slow, business. People didn’t want to stay because of the COVID,” he said.

Patel was able to fill the motel after the governor eased restrictions on lodging capacity limits due to the storm. The persisting winter storm in Texas is also keeping guests around a little longer

"Hopefully, we are waiting for the summer and we will get more business,” he said.

Patel said he’s hopeful business will turn around as COVID cases continue to drop and as more people become vaccinated.

State officials haven’t yet said when they’ll reinstate lodging capacity restrictions.