Champion Hotels Group founder Champak “Champ” Patel (center) receives Choice Hotels International’s Premier Legacy Award from Choice President and CEO Patrick Pacious (left) and Chief Development Officer David Pepper.

CHAMPION HOTELS GROUP founder Champak “Champ” Patel received the Premier Legacy Award from Choice Hotels International at the opening of the company’s 65th Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Patel was one of several Choice developers and franchisees honored during the event.

The award was recognition of Patel’s decades long relationship with Choice as both a developer and advisor. He opened his first hotel, an Econo Lodge in Weatherford, Oklahoma, in 1983. His Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, company now has nearly 50 Choice-branded properties in its portfolio.

“Our Premier and Best of Choice award winners embody Choice Hotels’ dedication to exemplary service,” said David Pepper, Choice’s chief development officer. “We take great pride in cultivating long-lasting relationships with our owners, and each of these winners has helped Choice Hotels raise the bar for excellence in hospitality, innovation and development.”

And Patel is also known for his work in the community, said Choice President and CEO Patrick Pacious.

“Champ is more than a standout owner, he’s a stand out person,” Pacious said. “What sets him apart is what he does for the community, what he does for people just starting out. He is someone who understands the value of hard work and that ties directly into who our founder was.”

Pacious said Champ’s story is similar to the story of Choice’s founder Stewart Bainum Sr. Both founded family businesses after scraping together the necessary funding.

“The Premier Legacy award is really to recognize not only his dedication to others in the industry, but because he is a great advisor to us on owners, what they’re thinking, how our brands are doing,” Pacious said. “He is somebody that Choice has been associated with for a long time and we think very highly of Champ.”

Patel expressed his business philosophy in a video during the announcement of his receiving the Premier Legacy Award.

“The employees and me, we’re no different. We are the same people,” Patel said. “The employees are my life. If they’re happy, I’m happy. If they are happy, one day I’m going to get it back because that’s an investment to keep long-term employees.”

Patel also spoke on his relationship with Choice.

“The support from Choice Hotels, the people who work there, they’re more like family to me,” he said. “When I call at 9 o’clock at night, or 7 in the morning, I get the service that I want, the support that I need, it’s already there.”

Read more about Patel’s history in the hospitality business.

Gold Coast Premier Properties of Miami, Florida, won the Premier Developer Award for its WoodSpring Suites hotels in Miami and Naples, Florida, and its more than a dozen projects in the pipeline in Florida, California, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Burton Hotel Group Executive Vice President David Burton was named the Premier Hotelier as a leader and advocate on public policy issues that are important to the hospitality industry. He owns three Comfort hotels and three Sleep Inn & Suites.