On Monday, executives from Vision Hospitality Group, along with key members of the Chattanooga community — including our Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce — gathered at the intersection of Broad Street and West 4th Street in downtown Chattanooga to celebrate the groundbreaking of Embassy Suites by Hilton Chattanooga Downtown.
The new hotel will feature 184 suites across seven floors and is located just a few blocks away from top attractions including Tennessee Aquarium, Hunter Museum of American Art and Tennessee Riverpark.
The new Embassy Suites promises to be a beautiful addition to the cityscape that’s set to bring an economic boost to the area by creating more than 100 quality jobs through a $54 million investment — one of the biggest downtown investments in more than a decade.
Looking ahead, the company has plans to open fifteen additional hotels in the next two years.
Construction led by Humphreys and Associates Contractors is expected to take around two years, with the grand opening scheduled for summer, 2025.
Mitch Patel, Vision’s President and CEO, spoke with Trend before the groundbreaking:
TREND: How has being headquartered in Chattanooga contributed to Vision’s growth and success?
Patel: It means a great deal to me personally to be based here, as it’s where I live and where my kids attend school. With so many family members, friends and colleagues also residing here, any project we undertake in our backyard holds a special meaning on so many levels.
Of course, there’s an emotional attachment, but it also needs to make strong business sense too.
We have experienced immense success in Chattanooga over the years, with some of our most successful hotels not located in larger cities like Nashville or Atlanta, but right here in Chattanooga.
We take great pride in this achievement and continue to have faith in the potential of this city.
TREND: Some of us who are familiar with your story know you faced many rejections before you found success. What is a specific example and how did you overcome it?
Patel: Rejection is always a difficult experience, isn’t it? It’s a natural part of being human, and it’s easy to want to avoid it altogether.
Early in our company’s history, it was especially challenging to convince brand companies, equity partners, and lenders that we could successfully execute a Hilton or Marriott product.
When we were developing the Hilton Garden Inn in Chattanooga Downtown, we traveled all over the country looking for financing.
I remember flying to Chicago for a meeting with a loan officer who had expressed interest in our proposal. After being rejected by several others, I was excited to finally meet with someone who had the capacity to help. However, when I arrived, I learned that he wasn’t even there that day. Despite countless similar hardships and rejections, these experiences only made us stronger.
Storms in our personal lives and in business are inevitable, but it’s how we react to them that determines our success.
TREND: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners?
Patel: One of the key factors in entrepreneurial success is finding your passion. When you truly love something, you’ll work harder, overcome obstacles and find greater success.
Even if you fall, you’ll have the drive to get right back up. On the other hand, if you pursue something solely for monetary gain without truly loving it, success will be much harder to achieve. Passion is the number one ingredient for entrepreneurial success.
Secondly, it’s important to think big. Nothing big has ever happened by thinking small. As Leonard da Vinci once said, “Our greatest danger is aiming too low and reaching it.”
Set your sights high, aim for the sky, and get as close as you can.
Thirdly, focus on character, which will define your personal legacy — and culture, which will define your company’s legacy. Cultivate your own character by being honest, treating people with respect, and following the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated.
People want to belong somewhere, and it’s important to create a company culture where everyone feels valued and included. At the end of the day, culture will define your legacy as a company.
TREND: What is something unique or lesser known about Vision Hospitality that you would like to share?
Patel: Social responsibility has become more important, leading to the fight against human trafficking. About 10 years ago, our company was the only one in the industry promoting awareness of this crime and created the first-of-its-kind training platform in the United States.
We were able to change laws in the state of Tennessee, making it a Class A felony to traffic minors instead of a misdemeanor. We also changed the law to allow abused or trafficked victims to testify on closed-circuit television instead of facing the seller.
Tennessee went from being one of the worst states with laws against human trafficking to becoming the number one state for laws against human trafficking. Grassroots efforts work, and social responsibility drives passion among employees to make a difference. The fight against human trafficking is personal, and we can make a huge impact.
We have an 800-hotline that people can call for help. There is always a way out, and people should not feel ashamed. We want to help those who have overcome trafficking carry on with a more fulfilling and rewarding life.