Our People

Executive Team

Vijay Patel

Vijay Patel is the owner and operator of A-1 Hospitality Group. Born in Uganda, Vijay moved to India in 1972, where he completed a degree in Commerce, specializing in accounts and economics from the MS University of Baroda. Vijay moved to London, England in 1982 and studied business at London University. Initially, he worked in his family’s retail operation, which he later sold. He also worked in grocery and retail chain management in London. In 1994, Vijay, emigrated to the United States with his wife Mita, daughter Preena and son Taran. At that time, he took over the management of a family-owned motel in Klamath Falls, OR. In 1997, Vijay and Mita acquired their first property, and have regularly added properties to their management group since that time.

Vijay is active in his community and the hotel and hospitality industry. He participates in several professional organizations dedicated to the growth and improvement of hospitality management. He also serves as a receiver for troubled hotel properties.

Vijay Patel


Taran Patel

Taran is a second generation hotelier and currently the Vice President and CFO of A-1 Hospitality Group. He is responsible for the overall strategic growth of A-1 Hospitality, overseeing portfolio profitability, along with managing investor and lender relationship of A-1 Hospitality.

Taran is also and active member of IHG’s Owners Association, Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA), Washington Hospitality Association (WHA),as well as serving as a Northwest Regional Ambassador for the American Asian Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA)

Taran holds a Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A) from the University of Portland. As well as dual Bachelors in Business Administration Finance and Pre-Law from Washington State University.

With franchise affiliations with Marriott, IHG, Wyndham and an Independent Boutique Hotel, A-1 Hospitality possesses a diverse portfolio comprised of the industry’s leading brands.

Taran Patel, MBA

Managing Principal

Corporate Team

Veronica Chavez

Veronica Chavez has been with our team last 13 years. In the hospitality industry for 15 years Veronica has an extensive background in leading people and mentoring them along the way. She is instrumental in training our teams at our hotels and takes on the task with great enthusiasm as well as serving as Assistant General Manager / Head Housekeeper at our Pasco, Holiday Inn Express.

Veronica moved to Pasco from South Oregon. She’s honest and hardworking with solid work ethics, always taking ownership of all aspects of a task or project. Leading as an example, Guest expectations are always first.

My Family is my motivation, the simple aspects of life are the most enjoyable , movies and time with family at soccer games my passion.

Veronica Chavez

Director of Facilities

Alp Kalyon

Alp Kalyon

Alp Kalyon is a hotel management professional who can’t think of any other profession that is more suitable for him. “Never a dull moment” has been the driving force for all of his years in the business.

After completion of his Hotel Management School studies in Istanbul, Alp has taken advantage of the worldwide acceptability of the Food and Beverage industry; gaining employment from Cayman Islands; to Sochi, Russia; Istanbul, Turkey to Little Rock, AR, to Los Angeles and beyond with Hilton, Radisson, Sheraton, Iberotel and Novotel groups .

Prior to joining A-1 Hospitality at the Columbia Gorge Hotel and Spa as the General Manager, Alp spent 6 years with Kahneeta Resort and Spa in Central Oregon and 10 years with Holiday Inn at Portland Airport.

Alp is an avid Fenerbahce Soccer Club fan and reader of John Grisham books. Alp resides in Vancouver, WA with his wife of 27 years and is proud father of 24 years old daughter.

Alp Kalyon

Director of Food & Beverage


Christie Blazon


Amy Smith

Regional Operations Manager

Amy Smith has been in the hotel industry for 20 years. Her first management position was a front desk manager at a 248-room Best Western in Idaho Falls, ID. After a short time, she was promoted to the Director of Sales and supervised four Sales Managers.

In 1997, she became the General Manager at a major hotel chain in Spokane, WA. While in Spokane, she learned about hotel operations, which complemented her knowledge of hospitality sales and marketing. From 2000 to 2005, she was the lead project manager for two new hotel openings and also served as the operator for the completed properties. She has an extensive knowledge of the building process and what needs to be accomplished during construction. She is the Regional Operations Manager for A-1 Hospitality Group and also manages our Holiday Inn Express in Pasco, WA.

Amy Smith

Regional Director of Operations

Preena Patel

Preena has 10 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. She has served as a Front Desk Representative, the Director of Sales, and the Operations Manager for A-1 Hospitality Group. Preena currently assists in overseeing the operations at A-1 Hospitality Group and future property development. As the Operations Manager, Preena oversees employee training and guest satisfaction. Preena is a Certified Airline & Hotel Specialist, accredited by the International & Air Hospitality Academy and holds a Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University.

Preena Patel

Administrator of Operations

Lealon Gordon is a northwest grown hotel professional that has been in the hotel industry now for over 15 years. In his beginning stages he started off as a front desk agent/bellman and has since been on a mission to learn every aspect of operating a hotel. After a few years of getting his start in Portland Oregon working at a full service and small boutique hotel he transferred up to the Eastern Washington area to continue his journey where most recently helped lead as Assistant General Manager of a SpringHill Suites. His passion for working with teams to reach their goals, providing unique experiences for guests and quest to help drive innovation keeps him going strong in his continued path. He’s always believed in striving for the best as he might say… “Push to maximize your potential. You are capable well beyond your current circumstances.”

Lealon Gordon

Director of People & Culture

Brenda Romay is the Regional Director of Sales for A-1 Hospitality Group. She oversees the sales for the company’s hotel properties and assists with marketing efforts and activities. She is responsible for sales growth by implementing strategies, tactics, and action plans.

Brenda Romay is originally from Yakima, WA. She has been in the hotel industry for 5 years. She got her start at a Holiday Inn in her hometown as an Event Coordinator. She then moved to the Tri-Cities to further her career in the industry. She began again in a new area as the Catering Sales Administrative Assistant at a Red Lion hotel property with extensive event space and catering. She had the opportunity to be the Catering Sales Manager temporarily, which allowed her to gain further experience in hotel sales. Her next step was at a Hampton by Hilton property as a Sales Manager. She obtained her Hilton Sales Certification during her time at the property. She was later asked to return to a previous hotel management company as an Area Sales Manager for 4 hotel properties. During her time as an Area Sales Manager, Brenda specialized in the sports market segment.

Brenda Romay

Regional Director of Sales

Columbia Hotel Management
Columbia River Gorge Hotel
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