Neal Patel officially takes on role as AAHOA chairman

Texas hotelier Nishant (Neal) Patel is the new chairman of AAHOA’s board of directors. Patel became chairman at the conclusion of the 2022 AAHOA Convention & Trade Show in Baltimore, which was the second major convention AAHOA has held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Patel became an AAHOA member in 2012 and soon volunteered to serve as an AAHOA Ambassador. He joined AAHOA’s board of directors in 2016 after being elected as the young professional director, Western division—a position he held for three years.

“If you’ve ever wondered to what extent AAHOA serves its membership, I am a perfect example,” Patel said in a statement. “My parents didn’t have the opportunity to have AAHOA as a resource, but thankfully, when I took over the family business, AAHOA was there for me as I navigated the hospitality industry. AAHOA provided me with the educational tools I needed to run a hotel successfully.”

Patel grew up in Surat, India, and came to Mississippi with his family nearly 20 years ago. Patel is a second-generation hotelier who grew up in the industry, wearing many hats as he helped his family run their first 20-room independent property in Laurel, Miss.

“Like the majority of AAHOA Members, we were in search of the ‘American Dream,’” Patel said. “My parents wanted to create a better life for their children and leave a legacy that generations to come would be proud of.”

These days, Patel calls Austin home and is the managing partner of Blue Chip Hotels, which owns and operates multiple hotels. Blue Chip Hotels has more than 1,200 rooms in several states among both branded and independent properties.

“My parents always told me that if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. If you talk too much, you’re not learning,” Patel said. “As I step into my new role, my focus is on our members and serving them well. Going forward, I will be the facilitator to make things happen.”

Patel is inspired to give back to the hospitality industry through service. He serves on the HITEC Advisory Council and promotes organ donor awareness through his volunteer work with Samaj Saves Lives.

“AAHOA helped us create generational success,” Patel said. “After all that AAHOA has given me and my family, I’m looking forward to serving this great organization and giving back to the AAHOA community through listening, learning, bringing new ideas to the table, and enacting change at every level of the organization. Thank you for placing your faith in me as AAHOA’s next chairman. I am here to serve you, our valued members.”

New Secretary and Board Members

Also at the convention, Kamalesh (KP) Patel of Santa Cruz, Calif., was named the new AAHOA secretary. Patel is the CEO of Aarav Hospitality and AKS Hospitality. AAHOA members also elected the following 10 members to the board of directors:

  • Alabama regional director: Sanjay Patel
  • Central Midwest regional director: Arti Patel
  • North Carolina regional director: Pinkesh Patel
  • Northeast regional director: Preyas Patel
  • Northwest regional director: Taran Patel
  • Upper Midwest regional director: Kalpesh Joshi
  • Washington, D.C., Area regional director: Deepak Patel
  • Director at large Eastern division: Pinal Patel
  • Director at large Western division: Hitesh Patel
  • Young professional director – Western division: Tanmay Patel

2022 Award Winners

The association recognizes achievement and excellence in the hospitality industry with its annual awards. The 2022 award winners are: 

  • The AAHOA Award of Excellence recognizes a hotelier who has demonstrated strong leadership, has high standards of excellence, and is making a significant contribution to the lodging industry. It was awarded to Vimal Patel, president and CEO, QHotels Management, AAHOA Ambassador, Gulf Region.
  • The Cecil B. Day Community Service Award is named in honor of Cecil B. Day, the founder of Days Inn who was known for his commitment to community service. This award recognizes someone who has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving his or her community. It was awarded to Manhar Rama, CEO, Sima Hospitality; AAHOA past chair (2005-2006).
  • The Outreach Award for Philanthropy is given to an individual deeply involved with helping humanity through philanthropic and charitable activities, domestically or overseas. It was awarded to Babu Patel, Trustmark Park Hospitality.
  • The Outstanding Woman Hotelier of the Year Award recognizes a woman hotelier for strong leadership and a commitment to lodging excellence, and for her significant contributions to the industry and to her community. It was awarded to Pinky Bhaidaswala, SSN Hotel Management.
  • The Outstanding Young Professional Hoteliers of the Year Award is for young hoteliers under the age of 30 who have exemplified the spirit, dedication and achievement of a professional hotelier. It was awarded to Armaan Patel, AGA Hotels; and Taran Patel, managing principal, A1 Hospitality Group and AAHOA Ambassador, Northwest Region.