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Chattanooga-Based mostly Resort Chain Plans New Burst of Funding | Tennessee Information

By DAVE FLESSNER, Chattanooga Instances Free Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Over the previous 25 years, Mitch Patel has constructed one of many nation’s fastest-growing, family-owned lodge chains with greater than 40 lodges open throughout the nation, together with 18 properties in Hamilton and Bradley counties.

Because the journey business rebounds from the pandemic, Patel is making ready inside the subsequent three years to open one other 15 lodges, most of them bigger than these within the present portfolio of Patel’s Imaginative and prescient Hospitality Group.

“To take this firm from its humble roots proper right here in Chattanooga to almost $1 billion in valuation and market cap has been an amazing satisfaction for us,” Patel says. “However we’re simply getting began. We’ve got a couple of half-billion {dollars} of funding that shall be going down, in all probability inside the subsequent three years, together with about $200 million of recent growth within the Chattanooga space.”

Whereas Patel has constructed many $10 million to $15 million Hampton Inns and Vacation Inn & Suites places previously 20 years, a lot of the new lodges shall be bigger, in prime places and extra expensive, he mentioned, with a number of valued at greater than $50 million every.

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It’s a dramatic turnaround from two years in the past when Imaginative and prescient Hospitality and different lodge chains quickly misplaced most of their enterprise because the COVID-19 pandemic struck and compelled the layoff of greater than 3.1 million hospitality employees throughout america, together with about 1,000 of the 1,500 employees within the Imaginative and prescient Hospitality Group. Through the pandemic, Imaginative and prescient Hospitality additionally offered six of its lodges for about $200 million within the largest property sale ever for the corporate.

However the lodge enterprise is shortly bouncing again, and in markets like Chattanooga it’s already exceeding pre-pandemic volumes. Patel mentioned Imaginative and prescient Hospitality had its finest fourth quarter within the historical past of the corporate in 2020 and expects to do even higher this 12 months.

“Though now we have a number of new lodges in our pipeline, I actually imagine that demand goes to outpace provide in our business for the subsequent 5 to seven years,” Patel says. “That offers me a number of confidence that this can be a very sustainable enterprise and that you need to by no means guess in opposition to the American spirit.”

That spirit helped lead Patel’s father, Ish, to come back to america greater than 4 a long time in the past when he started pursuing a complicated diploma in microbiology on the College of California-Davis. Ish Patel moved his household into an 11-room lodge in Stockton, California, whereas working as a analysis scientist at a neighborhood pickle manufacturing facility. The household ran the motel for 3 years earlier than Patel’s father determined to purchase and run a much bigger motel, an 80-room Scottish Inn that was out there throughout the nation in Cleveland, Tennessee.

As a youth, Mitch Patel helped out on the Cleveland motel by cleansing rooms, doing laundry and taking out the trash, as wanted. It was sufficient to persuade the youthful Patel to need to get out of the hospitality business and pursue a level in engineering.

On the College of Tennessee in Knoxville, Mitch Patel studied civil engineering, and after graduating he took a job in Atlanta as a venture visitors engineer. It was a snug job, however Patel quickly acknowledged it wasn’t fulfilling his goals.

So, in 1997, Patel gave up his profession and bought a chance together with his uncle to develop and handle a Homewood Suites by Hilton lodge close to Hamilton Place mall.

With $3,000 he had saved from the three years he labored as a visitors engineer, Patel borrowed most of what he wanted and used his engineering expertise to assist construct his first lodge. When it opened, he began managing the property.

“One small lodge, however one very massive dream,” Patel instructed almost 300 buddies, co-workers, business leaders and others gathered this spring for a twenty fifth anniversary celebration of the corporate.

There have been loads of financial and market challenges. Though his first lodge was profitable, a second lodge close to the Nashville airport opened throughout an financial hunch with plenty of competitors, and didn’t fare as effectively. The third lodge Patel opened was the Hilton Backyard Inn in downtown Chattanooga, only a month after the assaults of 9/11 in 2001 that discouraged many Individuals from flying.

“I used to be very nervous about opening our largest lodge and our first downtown lodge in a tricky time, however we in the end succeeded and I discovered that even in the course of the scariest occasions, individuals nonetheless need to journey and make experiences,” Patel says.

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