Executive Team

Vijay Patel began his career at his family’s retail operation in London, then went on to manage grocery stores and retail chains. After moving to the United States with his family in 1994, he took over management of a family-owned motel in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The hospitality industry was such a good fit that in 1997, he and his wife Mita started A-1 Hospitality Group and purchased their first hotel property in eastern Oregon.

A-1 Hospitality Group now owns and manages seven hotels throughout Oregon and Washington. Patel is widely respected by his colleagues; the company has managing several properties in receivership at the request of banks and investor groups, and he is a frequent collaborator in private/public partnerships intended to spark community revitalization and economic development. He is a past president of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and a member of the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority Board. He has a degree in commerce, specializing in accounts and economics, from the MS University of Baroda.

Vijay Patel

President

Taran Patel, MBA is a second-generation hotelier and currently serves as Managing Principal of A-1 Hospitality Group, a Pacific Northwest based Hotel Development and Management Company. His main priorities include overseeing portfolio profitability, and managing investor/lender relationships.

Patel is an active member of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and IHG Owners Association’s “Emerging Leaders” Executive Board; a northwest regional ambassador for the American Asian Hotel Owners Association; and currently the youngest person to ever serve on the board of the Washington Hospitality Association. In 2018, he was included on the list of “Thirty Under 30” Rising Hotel Executives by “Hotel Management” Magazine.

Patel has bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration Finance and Pre-law from Washington State University and an MBA from the University of Portland.

Taran Patel, MBA

Managing Principal

Corporate Team

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 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

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

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

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 Has Worked In Various Positions Within The Hotel Industry. Her Roles Have Ranged From Event Coordinator To Catering Sales Manager To Area Sales Manager To Now Regional Director Of Sales. She Has Received Her Sales Certification From Hilton and IHG.

Brenda Romay

Regional Director of Sales

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

Christie-Blazon

Christie Blazon

Bookkeeper

Columbia Hotel Management
IHG
Mariott
Wyndham
Columbia River Gorge Hotel
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