Founded in 1982 with a single hotel in Arkansas, Hawkeye Hotels has become one of the fastest-growing family-owned hospitality companies in the country. Today, the firm owns and operates over 55 hotels with investments in an additional 20 hotels, and has over 1,500 employees. The firm is estimated to create a 20-year economic impact of over $5 billion in the state of Iowa alone.

As President of Hawkeye Hotels, Ravi Patel (BBA Management, Certificate in Entrepreneurship, ‘08) has overseen the development of 50 new construction and acquisition projects, a total transaction volume in excess of $750 million. Patel, works alongside several members of his family every day – a privilege that he credits to the firm’s success.

“Our company values are very much the values of all Iowans. Genuine Midwestern work ethic, integrity, and family, this is the foundation of our corporate culture. My father has always shown us that if we wanted to be successful, we needed to outwork everyone around us. That has continued to be one of our competitive advantages,” Patel stated.

With the work ethic instilled by his parents combined with his experiences at the UI, Patel claims that the relationships he formed with classmates and lecturers as a student are one of the most powerful influences on his career. “I’ll never forget the letter of recommendation Ken Brown wrote me that landed me a high profile internship, or the dinner I had with Joe Sulentic that started to frame how I viewed the future,” he said.

During his time at the UI, Patel also participated in I-Envision, an entrepreneurship student organization. In fact, he was one of the students that helped recruit some of the group’s first members. Patel also was a member of Delta Sigma Pi, and the UI Student Government. He also tributes his student involvement and his entrepreneurship classes to launching his personal and professional development. 

“The UI entrepreneurship classes laid the foundation for me to hit the ground running when I began to lead our family business as an executive. Overall, the entrepreneurship classes at UI further sparked my enthusiasm for business, and taught me many of the hard skills needed to run a business confidently,” Patel stated.

One of his proudest accomplishments is the team he has created and the growth the firm has achieved in the last decade. Seeing his families’ risks and hard work payoff is what he finds the most rewarding. The company has maintained strong relationships with lenders, brokers, and franchises for over 30 years, including familiar brands such as Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental, and Starwood. 

In 2017, Hawkeye Hotels opened their new corporate headquarters in Coralville, Iowa. “The folks who think you have to leave Iowa to build success have a lot to learn,” said Patel.  What kept him in Midwest was the belief that if you are young, ambitious, and capable – you can do it all, even in Iowa. “We live in a place that prides and values itself on being collaborative and helping propel everyone to do and be what they desire. Iowa has made a wonderful home base for our company,” he stated.

So what else is on the horizon for Patel and his family? They recently launched a restaurant company and plan to develop half a dozen restaurants in the immediate future. On the hotel side, the Patel family has over 20 exciting projects in development ranging from select-service to upper-end luxury. While these new projects range across half a dozen new states, the firm also continues to stay true to their Iowa roots by working to build up local communities such as Coralville, Cedar Falls, Marshalltown, and Ottumwa.