A recent study by the Mandela Research firm revealed that Black Americans are vacationing more than ever and are expected to contribute $109.4 billion dollars to the travel and hospitality industries this year. Despite the tremendous buying power of Black voyagers, the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers reports that Black employment in the hotel industry represents nearly 20% of all team members in the industry, yet, less than 2% of hotel owners are Black.

To address this inequity, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchising company with more than 8,900 hotels in 95+ countries, announced a new initiative, called BOLD by Wyndham, designed to engage and advance more Black entrepreneurs on their path to hotel ownership.

Developed with insight and support from existing and aspiring Black hoteliers, BOLD, which stands for Black Owners and Lodging Developers was conceived to help advance existing and aspiring Black hotel owners to overcome barriers and achieve their ownership goals. A report by McKinsey states that 20% of Black Americans are starting or currently running businesses – more than any other ethnic group. Through BOLD, Wyndham seeks to expand awareness for the unique challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs while using the scale and resources of Wyndham to help address those challenges, offering the tools and guidance needed to achieve success.

TRYP by Wyndham Hotel, Times Square. Image: courtesy of Wyndham.

“Combine the natural challenges of entrepreneurship with the lasting effects of systemic racism, and the result is that Black entrepreneurs are woefully underrepresented in hotel ownership,” said Galen Barrett, vice president, Strategic Development for Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “It’s why we connected directly with existing and aspiring Black hoteliers... Understanding their unique needs—and how they differ from other underrepresented groups—was critical for building a program that can help overcome barriers and put the keys to hotel ownership in their hands.”

One of the inaugural members to participate in the initiative is Vaughn Irons, CEO Stonecrest Resorts having recently been awarded a new construction 110-room TRYP by Wyndham hotel franchise in the Atlanta suburb of Stonecrest, Ga. The hotel will be a welcome enhancement to Stonecrest Resorts’ current $17 million adaptive reuse project, Priví, which is transforming The Mall at Stonecrest into a family entertainment and lifestyle destination. 

Vaughn Irons, CEO Stonecrest Resorts. Image courtesy of subject.

The new construction hotel is a cornerstone of the project’s next phase, which will introduce new lifestyle elements, including a 50,000 sq. ft. chef driven food hall, history museum, fashion designer emporium and expanded family entertainment. These elements will increase the total investment of the Privi project to $35 million with the hotel expected to break ground in early 2023.

“We’re not just creating a new one-of-a-kind gathering place for those in east metro Atlanta,” said first-time hotelier, Irons. “Priví is an economic development project solidifying Stonecrest as a tourism destination and drawing visitors from all around the Southeast and eventually internationally. Throughout each and every interaction Wyndham has been a true partner...[offering] support and resources...behind our community’s desire to be a safe haven for Black excellence and wealth creation.”