Created in the Corridor: Hawkeye Hotels

The new Hampton Inn & Suites by Hawkeye Hotels is one of the first new hotels in downtown Des Moines in thirty years.

Bob and Angie Patel--a young couple from India--emigrated to America with a dollar and a dream. And now they’re extending their hospitality to people across the country. But perhaps their biggest achievement are their children and what they’ve Created in the Corridor.

“It just makes us very humble and appreciative that my parents did come from just absolutely nothing,” said Ravi Patel, 31, who along with his siblings are literally building on their parents’ legacy which started 35 years ago. That’s when the Indian immigrants stumbled across a shuttered hotel in Mena, Arkansas. “They saw this opportunity to buy a business that they could work at 24/7 and yet also have a home attached to that business,” explained brother, Raj, 26.

Knowing nothing about the hospitality industry, they held multiple jobs as they learned. “My dad ran paper routes, my mom worked fast food and the kids worked every department in the hotel, and so hotels are literally in our blood,” Ravi told CBS 2 News.

The family business began to prosper when the Patels moved to Burlington, Iowa and their company, Hawkeye Hotels, developed more properties in the Corridor—all the while the kids were developing themselves. Recalled Raj, “My sister, my brother and I all attended the University of Iowa and we stuck around ever since, we never left.”

The company’s new corporate headquarters is located in Coralville with Ravi as president, sister, Sajni, as vice-president and brother, Raj, chief development officer. “We are a fully vertically integrated company. We do our own development. we do our own management. We have our own capital. We just started our own restaurant division,” said Ravi.

Hawkeye Hotels now has about 50 hotels in roughly 20 states ranging from smaller, four story hotels to major 12 story downtown properties like the iconic Hotel Majestic in Saint Louis, the luxurious Hotel Modern in New Orleans and the historic Hotel Fort Des Moines. Raj calls the latter his passion project. “I hope to undergo a 50-million-dollar renovation on that property and reopen it as a Curio Collection by Hilton and it will be a 290 room luxury property.”

Another new project underway right now in Coralville will be a contemporary Fairfield Inn and Suites. “We found an area where we could actually add three rooms so we’re up to 95 rooms,” shared Raj as he and his brother took us on a tour of the construction site. Scheduled to open in early July, the newest Fairfield Inn neighbors the company’s extended–stay Residence Inn just down Interstate-380 from their Residence and Fairfield properties in Cedar Rapids. Hawkeye Hotels also recently acquired the Holiday Inn Express off Collins Road. And in Iowa City you’ll find the Hampton Inn, an aggressive project Ravi led to great success despite the headwinds of the recession. “We built the hotel in 103 days,” exclaimed Ravi proudly. The company’s president also took the lead on the first hotels to be built in downtown Des Moines in thirty years. “It’s a lot of fun and we also push each other a lot.” Adds brother, Raj, “We all live, breathe hotels. It’s what we wake up thinking about and that’s what we talk about at the dinner table every night.”

And while it was just family at the beginning, Ravi said they try to extend that relationship to their growing corporate team. “Everyone that we have either hired in the Corridor or brought to the Corridor really experiences the values of our company and the values of our company are family, they’re integrity, they’re hard work…and they’re really Iowa and Hawkeye values and so everyone within the company embodies that.”

As for the future, Hawkeye Hotels is hiring with the prospects of growing even more. “The development projects that scared us five years ago are projects that we feel very comfortable executing on today, explained Raj. “So to try and imagine what we’ll be able to do in five years is very inspiring.”

The Hawkeye Hotels family will hold a public grand opening of their new Coralville headquarters next month. In the meantime, we have a link to more information about the company HERE.

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