Tourism's Family Business
As the President and Chief Operations Officer of Image Hotels in Savannah, Kal Patel’s company, Image Hotels owns seven hotels in the Savannah area and one in Mobile, Alabama.
He’s an award-winning hotelier at the helm of a company that has helped so many, and yet his start came from his hard-working parents who instilled a strong work ethic in their young boy.
START AT HOME
As early as Patel could remember, he was living and breathing the hotel business. His parents bought their first hotel in Augusta, Georgia in the early 1970s. So, he was literally born into hospitality. While most family chores involve taking out the trash, Patel’s family chores involved taking out the trash of the hundreds of guests their hotel served.
After his family relocated their offices to Savannah, Patel knew he wanted to go to Armstrong State University to pursue a degree in computer science business administration. He showed great potential in his field and was quickly hired by the
local Merrill Lynch office after graduating.
But, tourism would call him back. He organized and founded his family properties into Image Hotels, Inc. “Ultimately, I wanted to be my own boss, and I saw all the benefits of going back into the family business.”
In his time as President, Patel has been a part of the development and acquisition of 10 hotels, and he is currently managing assets of more than $40 million. For a family business that is less than 40 years old, they have accomplished much.
“We have transacted over 40 hotels in the course of 39 years. And over those properties have employed close to 475 associates,” said Patel.
CREATING A CULTURE
For Patel, the financial aspect has nothing on the culture he has created at Image Hotels. He has built the company on the principles that if you take care of your employees then you can all find success together. He does this by finding the hidden hospitality talent in people.
“You need to love people and love to smile,” said Patel. “Every tourism business has a unique culture, and our success has been had by being able to groom people for leadership roles as we’ve grown.”
He also believes in giving back to the community both for his work with nonprofits like the Tourism Leadership Council and Habitat for Humanity as well as his work to invest in the people of Savannah.
“Tourism and hospitality jobs are a haven for people who don’t want or don’t have a formal education,” said Patel. “They can make a lucrative career path for not only themselves but their family.”
His commitment to those ideals has won Patel and his company accolades aplenty, starting with Intercontinental Hotels Group’s “Newcomer of the Year” and “Torchbearer Award” as well as top hotel owners and developers for multiple years.
Started As /
President/COO of Image Hotels