BWH president and CEO David Kong set to retire

by | 20 Sep 2021 | Chains

David Kong, president and CEO of BWH Hotel Group

After transforming the Phoenix-headquartered hospitality giant over the last two decades, the man in charge of BWH Hotel Group has now signalled his intention to step down.

BWH Hotel Group is expected to reveal the identity of David Kong’s successor next month.

Overseeing the rapid rise of BWH

David Kong, who joined Best Western Hotels & Resorts in 2001 before being named CEO in 2004, will retire at the end of 2021, marking the end of a remarkable chapter for one of the world’s largest hotel groups. During his time there, the company grew from one to 18 brands, introduced SureStay Hotel Group, acquired upper-upscale and luxury hotel collection WorldHotels and launched the BWH Hotel Group moniker.

Ishwar Naran, board chairman, BWH Hotel Group, said: “David Kong is a once-in-a-lifetime leader whose contributions to Best Western and BWH Hotel Group are truly immeasurable. It has been the honour of my career to work alongside David and witness first-hand his remarkable passion and dedication to our industry.”

Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, added: “David has been a mentor to so many of us over the years. He inspired me early in my career as he has so many others to get more involved in our industry, including the American Hotel & Lodging Association, AAHOA [Asian American Hotel Owners Association| and the US Travel Association. He is someone I trust and greatly admire.”

Supporting hospitality’s recovery from Covid19

Kong’ leadership skills came to the fore during the Covid19 pandemic when he spearheaded the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to support the hospitality industry. This included extending over US$65 million in fee rebates to hoteliers since March 2020, adjusting operating standards and bringing in enhanced cleaning protocols, and advocating for federal support for hoteliers in meetings with President Trump and senior government figures.

Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, said: “David brought a sense of family to life at Best Western. Everyone affiliated with Best Western has a similar family feel and I think David did a great job of nurturing that even as he was navigating and leading a very significant transformation for the company.”

Pat Pacious, president and CEO, Choice Hotels International, added: “David took the company through a significant transformation from a single brand to a multi-brand family. That required a lot of listening, a lot of partnership and a lot of persuasion, but created a great outcome for his company and his members.”

BWH’s extraordinary global reach

BWH now has a network of approximately 4,500 hotels in operation and under development across more than 100 countries and territories. Headquartered in Phoenix, it comprises three distinct hotel companies, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, WorldHotels Collection and SureStay Hotel Group.

Kong reflected: “I feel very fortunate to have played a role in building BWH Hotel Group into the brand it is today. I have always wanted to move on at my peak. With our caring culture, our extraordinary hoteliers, executive team and corporate staff, I have no doubt the best is yet to come for BWH Hotel Group.”

BWH plans to announce its new CEO at the company’s annual convention on 7 October 2021.

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