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Restful Nights

Imran Khan and Maya Goldstein Have Seen the World, Opportunity Brought Them Here

Imran Khan Maya Goldstein Greater Fergus Falls Hotel 8 Feature
On February 28, 2023, Imran Khan and Maya Goldstein, previously of Seattle, became the new owners of the former Super 8 hotel, which has undergone a rebranding and significant rennovations.

Imran Khan was born in Pakistan. In 2008, at the age of 21, he married an American woman from Wyoming. He moved across the world, staying three years, but would return to Pakistan. Before leaving, he spent a short time in Seattle with friends, falling in love with the city. When he came back to the United States another three years later, he moved to Washington, eventually working for a Toyota dealership as a car salesman.

Maya Goldstein was born in North Carolina, graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in art history. Wanting to see the world, she moved to Australia, spent two years in the southern hemisphere, and, when it was time to come home, found her way to a job selling cars for a Toyota dealership near Seattle.

It was in Seattle that these two stories intersect, leading in time to a 23-state cross-country tour earlier this year that concluded with Khan and Goldstein buying a hotel in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

Sound improbable?

Well, It's a Small World

The road from there to here was winding. Goldstein says she had gotten her degree, expecting to work for an auction house, but she watched friends and others settle into jobs and then simply wait out the years. She wanted something more.

"Really what I wanted to do was travel and learn about different cultures," she says, "I think most of the people in my generation were told, 'you gotta go to college; this is what you do.' And then you get done with it and you're like, 'Now what?' They don't tell you what to do after."

Khan shares a similar love for travel and culture. He remembers coming to America for the first time and everything he left behind.

"When I got here, it was a whole new world," he says. "You have no friends anymore, you don't have the people you grew up with. It was hard."

He moved to Wyoming in the middle of a January snow storm that trapped him indoors for nine days under three feet of snow. He arrived speaking no English but learned by watching television and feeling his way through day-to-day conversations. He laughs recalling the time he tried in vain to mime a chicken's egg to a cashier at the local grocery store, his waving and gestures failing to communicate his objective.

The pair would come to know each other as coworkers at that same Seattle dealership. As their relationship developed, they talked about the future and bigger ideas. Near the end of 2019, they made plans to purchase their first property and enter the hospitality business.

And then, of course, the whole world shut down. They bunkered into their work, both now in management positions, and waited for the next opportunity.

Pleasantly Surprised

Imran Khan Maya Goldstein Greater Fergus Falls Hotel 8 Room Photo
Inside, Khan and Goldstein have been hard at work to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere.

Khan had learned the workings of the hospitality industry during his time in Wyoming, and he added this to his entrepreneurial experience in Pakistan helping to run his family's business. His takeaway was that enduring businesses start small and grow as they're able. So, when the two renewed their search for a property, they looked to smaller towns where they might be more than a drop in the ocean.

Nowhere in the world was out of consideration, but it came down to two properties: one in Colorado, one in Minnesota.

"Minnesota wasn't really on our radar until we had to open up our options, but then we were pleasantly surprised," Goldstein says.

In December of last year, they traveled to Fergus Falls to consider a hotel on the town's west side, a property then under the Super 8 brand. First impressions were tepid. The weather was poor and cold, the hotel needed work, and the visit nearly ended after a disappointing meal that night.

But they stayed a day longer. They toured through the city, stopping downtown, sampling businesses, and meeting the people.

"In a smaller town you feel like you're part of a family," Khan says, "and that's what we felt here."

They were connected via their lender to Greater Fergus Falls' Entrepreneur Initiative (EI) program and paired with a business development mentor, who helped draft a loan application and encouraged them onward. Goldstein says they had felt overwhelmed, often resorting to Google for answers. The EI process gave them confidence, and a separate business development loan through the City of Fergus Falls meant the project was more viable than ever.

On the final day of February, they closed on the hotel, which they renamed Hotel 8 Fergus Falls. The facility remained open without missing a day, but inside Khan and Goldstein went to work painting, renovating, and repairing. Khan says the first priority was to improve the customer experience and create a safe and comfortable space.

"It was a little hectic, but we managed," Goldstein says. She says that the years in commission-based work taught them the difference between being busy and being productive, and they've made significant progress in the two months since the purchase, with more improvements underway.

The new hotel is expected to be only the first of many for Khan and Goldstein, whose joint business venture is known as Imraya Properties. Goldstein says they want to be where the momentum is and feel by finding Fergus Falls that they've arrived in the right place at the right time.

"We like the town. We want to stay here and figure out how to support the economy," Khan says. "This town is growing."

– R.C. Drews for Greater Fergus Falls

Do you have the idea for Fergus Falls's next big business adventure? Click here to learn more about Greater Fergus Falls and our commitment to furthering economic development and growth in the Fergus Falls area.

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