ANN ARBOR, MI — For business partners Vamsi Bonthala and Sheenal Patel, their most recent acquisition is a bit of a homecoming.
The co-founders of Arbor Lodging Partners, a Chicago-based hotel management firm, have just purchased a pair of hotels in Ann Arbor’s Eisenhower Parkway corridor. The couple built their business ties and friendship while at the University of Michigan.
With their acquisition of the Hilton Garden Inn and Towneplace Suites by Marriott near Briarwood Mall, Bonthala and Patel can do business in the college town where it all started for them.
“Even from a non-business side, Ann Arbor holds a very special place for both of us,” said Bonthala, CEO of the company.
Bonthala and Patel met in high school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, but became friends once they were both studying at UM. The university holds a special place in Bonthala’s heart, as he started his family there.
“I was there for seven years in Ann Arbor. My wife and I went to law school there,” he said. “And we met all of our closest and dearest friends who have become a central family to us.”
Bonthala and Patel founded their company in 2006, implementing the Arbor element in the name due to their fondness for the city. Ann Arbor is a perfect next step in their current strategy of developing hotels in college towns, Bonthala said.
“It’s a market we believe in because of the multiple demand drivers there,” he said, noting the university’s proximity, the companies’ ties to the technology and business industries. automotive and multiple recreational events, such as UM football games and the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
“Ann Arbor is probably the ultimate college town where you can have these really interesting and unique opportunities and experiences that you won’t necessarily get in a city this size,” he said.
Another motivating factor was a recent rezoning of the area around the hotels by the Ann Arbor City Council, Bonthala said. The area allows for more density and height, he said, meaning hotels could serve a more “walkable and denser” part of the city in the future.
“I have a feeling this is the corridor that will see strong future growth,” he said.
Both hotels will undergo renovations, according to a company press release. The Hilton Garden Inn will see a larger renovation that will improve space for more public gatherings, while the TownePlace Suites will see some accommodation upgrades.
For more information about the company’s investment in Ann Arbor, visit arborlodging.com.
“We are thrilled to join one of the best college towns in the country,” said Bonthala. “As Michigan graduates, this acquisition is especially rewarding and we can’t wait to ‘come home’ and join this amazing community.”
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