Vision. I’ve been thinking a lot about that word in the last few weeks. In different contexts, but all have left me feeling inspired.
As I sit writing this from a villa in Tuscany with the most unbelievable views of vineyards, cypress trees and terracotta roofs outside my window, it is not lost on me how blessed I am to be experiencing what many might define as heaven on earth. I’ve traveled the Tuscan countryside these last couple of weeks—a much-needed vacation and part family celebration—from the “larger” city of Siena to little gems like Montefollonico, Cortona and San Quirico d’Orcia. The landscapes and vistas are truly something to behold, as anyone who has been here—or follows me on Instagram—can attest to. Just visions of beauty.
Vision. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a lovely or charming sight”—and that certainly applies to my current view. But, there are many definitions of that word-all similar yet variations on the theme.
Perhaps, the one I like the best is this: “the act or power of imagination.” Yes, imagination is a very powerful thing. And when unlimited with true freedom of expression, can not only be powerful and inspirational but deeply motivational.
I was recently invited as a VIP guest to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Vision Hospitality Group (VHG). It’s always refreshing when you meet a group of people who treat their employees as partners, their friends as family and their community as important. And, having the opportunity to experience it all firsthand was both meaningful and memorable.
I flew down to Chattanooga, TN, black evening gown in tow, to attend the gala (see Industry Snapshots, page 44). The event was held last month at The Hunter Museum of American Art—which holds a special place in VHG founder/President/CEO Mitch Patel’s heart, underscoring his lifelong appreciation of art and community. There were roughly 300 guests in attendance, including Liam Brown, group president of the Americas, Marriott International; Danny Hughes, president of the Americas, Hilton; and Chip Rogers, president/CEO, AHLA, who each delivered heartfelt remarks about their experiences with VHG and, most notably, with Mitch.
What these gentlemen noted in their remarks is what I’ve noticed in my interactions with the folks that make up this company, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Humanist Hospitality: There was—and is—a true vision behind Vision. Just $3,000 of startup capital and a big dream, coupled with insightful leadership, strategic foresight and eventual expansion via investments, acquisitions and repositioning opportunities created a solid foundation for the company. But, then, there’s that something that goes beyond: a commitment to community and a devotion to The Golden Rule. I get it. My parents were big followers of this guiding principle—treat others as you would like others to treat you—and taught me that adherence to it, something that should be a no-brainer, is the key to a successful life. And, this simple core value is the catalyst that drives VHG’s goal to be “the best, most-respected hotel company in America” with one team and one vision.
Our cover feature this month (see page 18) also tells the story of vision and guiding principles, and how passion for the industry and a commitment and dedication to integrity, respect and teamwork are core values that can stand the test of time-even during challenging times. Hotel Business’ Abby Elyssa interviewed Justin Jabara, president, Meyer Jabara Hotels, about his vision for the company: investing in its future, informed by a lifelong journey in this industry grounded in family values. After all, he is a third-generation hotelier who, quite literally, grew up in this industry, mentored by Richard Jabara and Bill Meyer, and who truly sees his company and all of its employees as family. Again, beyond investing in data expertise, technology and talent-all important endeavors-Justin has invested in his people and the company culture, envisioning the future and setting the owner/operator on a continued path for success.
At Hotel Business, we report daily on deals, acquisitions, openings, transactions, development, brands-all important and newsworthy announcements and happenings. But, when I connect with leaders in the industry like Mitch and Justin, who connect with the basic fundamentals of what it means to, well, connect with others-employees, community, guests-and to make that core value instrumental to their vision, it inspires me to share it with you.