THE WITNESS GROUP, an Asian American owned hospitality development and investment group, has contracted with Atlanta-based management and development firm Hotel Equities to manage its portfolio of 36 hotels. The portfolio includes brands from Marriott International Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt Hotels Corp.
Discussions for the agreement began earlier this year as TWG looked to further focus on growth and creating new opportunities. HE and its affiliate Virtua Partners will focus on future transactions, conversions and new development.
“While we put the conversations on pause in March [when the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the U.S.], we eventually picked back up early summer recognizing this as a rare window to integrate platforms with less interruption to business,” said Aakash Patel, TWG’s chief development officer. “We think this better positions us for the rebound.”
HE’s business intelligence systems, training programs, development services and operating platform were factors in landing the contract with TWG, said Brad Rahinsky, HE’s president and CEO.
“Most important is the fact that we are aligned in company culture, vision and goals. We have a shared desire to create a unique and powerful platform for our associates to help them fulfil their aspirations and find purpose and meaning within the hospitality industry,” Rahinsky said. “This was not a transaction rushed into to hit a number. This relationship established over many months of conversations, face-to-face meetings and genuine dialogue is a true partnership founded on trust and shared values and goals.”
TWG, based in Columbus, Ohio, was formed in 2016 as a merger of Alliance Hospitality and KB Hotel Group with Ohm Patel as CEO, according to an article in Asian Hospitality at the time. KB Hotel Group was a management company while Alliance did development.
Ohm’s father Naresh Patel began Alliance in 1999. Nitin Patel is Naresh’s brother-in-law and became partner in Alliance in 2000. His son Sagar Patel is one of TWG’s founders and, along with Ohm and Sagar’s cousin Sachin and Aakash are principals.
Ohm is still a TWG board member as well as a principal at Moment Development, according to his LinkedIn page.
Transitioning the TWG hotels into HE’s portfolio began on Sept. 1 commencing with a series of town hall meetings between both firm’s executive leadership teams. More than 500 new employees have joined HE’s training classes, said Bryan DeCort, HE’s COO.
“HE has invested heavily in our people and infrastructure to ensure we are consistently driving improvement across all our KPI’s,” he said. “We lead with performance which creates stability and growth opportunities for our associates and improved profitability for all of our stakeholders.”
TWG’s people are the main focus for Sachin, who said his teams will benefit from a larger support system and shared best practices.
“Most importantly, this [partnership] will give our property and corporate teams a better platform to learn through HE’s training programs and leverage the additional opportunities available to them in the larger portfolio,” Sachin said.
The agreement between the two companies allows HE and Virtua Partners to expand into the Midwest.
“We are excited to expand our presence into the Heartland. Utilizing both team’s knowledge and expertise will create a smooth transition,” said Quinn Palomino, co-founder and principal of Virtua Partners. “We consider ourselves to be results-driven companies with strong and distinct cultures.
Last February, HE took another step deeper into Canada with a contract to manage a planned dual-branded Four Points by Sheraton and Residence Inn by Marriott in Langley, British Columbia. Construction of the property is expected to begin around the middle of this year with expectation to open in 2021.