The champ of hospitality; AAHOA member opens first avid hotel

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by Zohreen Ismail

Hotel owners and guests are celebrating the grand opening of the first-ever avid hotel. AAHOA Lifetime Member and founder of Champion Hotels, Champ Patel, opened the avid hotel in Oklahoma City, welcoming the first guests in August and holding the grand opening in October. avid, the newest mainstream brand offered by IHG, was designed to attract the attention of people who are looking for just the essentials – clean room, grab-and-go breakfast, fast WiFi, modern design – during their travels.

Champ, who is a member of the owner advisory board, worked directly with IHG to begin developing the concept for the new brand. A life-size rendering was created at the IHG warehouse located in Smyrna, GA. A target audience was invited to the warehouse to get feedback on the avid room design. Housekeeping staff members were also invited to test the ease and accessibility when cleaning the rooms.

The 87-guest room building stands on 138th street on the north side of Oklahoma City. The lobby welcomes guests with tall, glass windows and an open-space layout allowing guests to experience natural light and an authentic Oklahoma City feel.

The grand opening ceremony began with a speech by Elie Maalouf, the CEO of the Americas for IHG. He spoke about the partnership between IHG and Champion Hotels. “I can’t think of a better place than Oklahoma City or a better partner than Champion Hotels,” he stated. “Champion Hotels and IHG were joined by a similar philosophy: approach this business with our hearts. That philosophy is what contributed to the success of avid.”

Maalouf was followed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. She addressed the crowd, “Champion Hotels and the Patel family have a tremendous reputation. They take care of their employees, work hard, and are great entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. When Champ does something, he does it with his heart, commitment, and passion.”

Champ has been in the hospitality industry for 38 years and when asked for one piece of advice on how he stays on top of the latest trends he said, “I genuinely care for the people. There is always a lot of work to be done and a vacation to me is being able to socialize with my guests.”

Champ spent his early years in the hospitality industry owning one independent hotel, which he later converted to an Econolodge. He continued the path down hospitality because of his passion for excellent customer service and making everyone feel welcome. “Hosting and hospitality is in my DNA,” he said, “That is what drew me to the industry and has kept me in it.”

Champ went on to discuss the honor he feels for being the face of the first avid hotel. “I was one of the first people to see the prototype. Together [with IHG]we had created a brand that would be trustworthy. It is an honor to be able to care for the people that visit and stay at avid.” A true trendsetter, Champ was also the first hotel owner to open a Tru by Hilton property in 2016, located near the Oklahoma City airport.

Furthermore, Champ took being in the hospitality industry to new heights. “When you are in the hotel industry it is easy to just continue to be. I wanted to make a difference and show future hotel owners that with creativity and hard work you can build something that others truly need and desire.”

Champ Patel, along with other AAHOA hotelier members, pride themselves in being industry leaders working hard on the front lines to ensure the hospitality industry is serving everyone. Champ spoke with a gracious and humbling attitude towards learning from others and what AAHOA has to offer. “With the knowledge and support of my peers and other hotelier members, I have gained the confidence to be a leader in my industry.”

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