Hotel developer Vijaysinh Mahida arrived in the United States from India from 1994 and moved to Pittsfield at the behest of his uncle, motel owner Dilip Desai, after working in San Francisco for six months. His first job in the hospitality industry was at the former Huntsman’s Motel on West Housatonic Street, later rebuilt as a Best Western Inn.

"I started chasing my American dream," said Mahida, "working very hard at two full-time jobs." His early positions were with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation and as a janitor at Hillcrest Educational Centers.

After saving some funds, he opened two businesses at the Berkshire Mall and the Holyoke Mall in 1999. A year later, with the help of his parents, Mahida purchased his first inn, the Monument Mountain Motel, in Great Barrington.

In May 2004, he opened the Comfort Inn across the highway, originally 60 rooms. After Mahida’s proposed Marriott Inn at the corner of Routes 7 and 20 and Housatonic Street in Lenox was turned down by the Lenox ZBA in 2006 following six months of contentious town board sessions, he focused on expanding the Great Barrington property, adding nearly 40 rooms.

"I went on in my life," Mahida acknowledged, despite his disappointment at the outcome in Lenox. He purchased the Days Inn in downtown Great Barrington with his brother, Pravin Mahida, who became sole owner of that property last January.

Mahida said he is "100 percent committed" to start construction this spring on the long-delayed Hilton Garden Inn in Pittsfield, perched above Guido’s Fresh Marketplace.

A lawsuit by rival developer Joseph Toole against the project is due to be heard in Berkshire Superior Court on Jan. 9, unless an out-of-court settlement is reached, said Dave Carpenter, director of administration for the Mahida family hospitality interests.

-- Clarence Fanto