A Wife’s Nudge, and the Engineer Becomes a Hotelier


Prakash Ahuja celebrated his birthday with his wife Juuhi, daughter Divya and mother Mohini at the new Four Points by Sheraton Hotel that he just completed and opened.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: The attention to detail gave a hint that there was imagination and technical know-how behind all the facets of the hotel, from the rooms to the restaurant and well decorated and spacious lobby, and bright LED screens at the registration desk. Prakash Ahuja gave a tour of types of rooms – suite, junior suite, double, single – each with the same stylish touch in the finishes and the furnishings, with glass showers and tucked away microwaves and refrigerators; the well-equipped fitness room and the indoor heated pool.

“We’ve already got guests staying here,” he said of the week-old Four Points by Sheraton Houston Energy Corridor at 18861 Katy Freeway at the Greenhouse exit. “And my general manager and his staff are getting all the systems ready.”

The Four points is the most recent project of the demure and jovial Ahuja who sports a thick Chevron mustache. It took him 19 months to build the 134-room building, “but if it hadn’t been for the heavy rains last year, we would have been done 3 months earlier,” he explained. He already has another two hotels in the making – a Staybridge Inn & Suites near the Intercontinental Airport and a Hampton Inn & Suites on Highway 6 in the Energy Corridor – and will be breaking ground before the end of the year.


The new hotel is located on the inbound feeder road of the Katy Freeway

“But I was more of an accidental hotelier,” said Ahuja with a chuckle. “If it hadn’t been for my wife Juuhi, I would have still been an engineer.” The two had gone out to look around for another Spa to add to their other two in Austin, Texas when the realtor showed them a hotel. “Juuhi pushed me to take it and I said ‘Hey, what do I know about hotels?’ and she said ‘What’s so difficult about them? You’re an engineer, you can figure it out!’.” And with that, the two bought a 100-room Best Western hotel in Austin in 2006. Ahuja not only ran it, but he turned it around. By 2008, they had sold the Spas and the hotel and bought the Hampton Inn & Suites in Tomball in 2009. They sold it in 2014 to start up the Four Points.

“I was quite happy being an engineer with Honeywell Controls Systems,” recalled Ahuja as he explained the twist that brought him to becoming a hotelier, “and would have still been one if not for her!” Originally from Pune, Maharashtra, he received his bachelors in Electronics and Telecommunications, and then joined Honeywell in 1990. Juuhi finished her MBA in New York and was working there when she returned to Pune in 1994 for a visit. The two met, got married and stayed in Pune, till they decided to migrate to the US in 1996. Juuhi runs her own company, Wise Men Consultants, an IT firm with offices in Houston, Hyderabad and Pune.


The lobby of the new hotel which is located in the Energy Corridor on Katy Freeway at Greenhouse.

Last Friday night, October 14, the 2,500 sf meeting room at the hotel started to fill up with guests who had come to see the new building and celebrate with the Ahujas, their daughter Divya and his mother Mohini. Prakash gave the short tour and then settled in to mingle with the guests who played at casino night tables. Before the crowd got too boisterous, they brought out a cake to wish a happy birthday to Prakash, the new hotel owner. The look of mock surprise and a wide smile of happiness brimmed all over his face!