BWH Hotel Group has announced that longtime president and CEO David Kong will retire at the end of 2021.
The longest-running CEO of any major hotel company, Kong joined Best Western Hotels & Resorts in 2001 and was named CEO in 2004.
During this 20-year journey, Kong would transform the company, form BWH Hotel Group and shape it into a global powerhouse, leaving an indelible mark on the entire hotel industry.
“David Kong is a once-in-a-lifetime leader whose contributions to Best Western and BWH Hotel Group are truly immeasurable, said company chairman Ishwar Naran.
“It has been the honour of my career to work alongside David and witness firsthand his remarkable passion and dedication to our industry.
“David has always led by example and, most importantly, cared deeply about those he serves from hoteliers, to colleagues, associates, guests and communities.”
Kong’s first step toward a lifelong career in hospitality began as a dishwasher and busboy. When he arrived in the United States from Hong Kong as a young adult, like many immigrants before him, he had no money, no job and no connections to offer support.
Despite these challenges, Kong leaned into the values and work ethic instilled by his parents to rise through the ranks of the hospitality industry, culminating in his role as president and CEO of BWH Hotel Group.
During his tenure as CEO, Kong has grown BWH Hotel Group’s brand portfolio from one to 18 covering every chain scale segment and accommodation type, including boutique/lifestyle and extended stay.
Kong has also managed to set successive records of RevPAR growth from 103 in 2004 to 112.4 in 2021, as well as a new company record of highest EBITDA growth, with company cash reserves and net equity growing over 10-fold since becoming CEO.
He also led the acquisition efforts of WorldHotels Collection and AutoClerk.
You can learn more about Kong’s impactful 20-year journey in the below video:
Commenting on his impending retirement, Kong said: “This industry has empowered me to dream boldly about the future and to pursue those dreams without hesitation.
“I feel blessed to have been surrounded by exceptional teams throughout my career and through sheer passion and dedication, we have chased bold dreams and achieved what many might have considered impossible.
“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 Hotel Group will announce a new CEO at the company’s annual convention in October.