Black Meetings and Tourism

July / August 2021

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20 B M & T ••• July/August 2021 ••• " O n c e you go Black, you never go back!" Black hotel owner and commercial real estate investor Davonne Reaves hopes the popular cheeky catchphrase rings true for those who stay at one of thousands of Black-owned hotels and bed & breakfasts across America this summer. "In 2019, MMGYGlobal reported that African-Americans spent over $109 billion on travel, but according to The National Association of Black Hotel Owners Operators and Developers, a trade organization, African-Americans own less than two percent of the nation's hotels. Clearly there's a dis- connect there and I'm trying to change that," explains Atlanta-based Reaves who nabbed national head- lines in January 2021 for her $8.3 mil- lion acquisition of a Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel in El Reno, Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City. She secured the all-suite property with business partner and former Georgia State University roommate, Jessica Myers and a diverse group of investors, mostly Millennials. The purchase earned her and Myers the unique distinction of becoming what is believed to be the youngest African American women to ever co- own a major hotel chain property. Owning a hotel once seemed like a far-fetched dream for Reaves, as an African-American women who grew up in a working class family in the South and she hopes her campaign will help to raise more awareness about the Black-owned hotel proper- ties that exist, while also drawing attention to the need for more and totally attainable: plus, there are some amazing and wonderful Black- owned hotel properties among us: like the Downtown Clifton in Tucson, Arizona, the Oak Bluffs Inn at Martha's Vineyard, the Ivy Hotel in Baltimore and the five-star Salamander Resort & Spa just out- side of Washington D.C., to name a few," notes Reaves, now 34, a mom to a precocious toddler. "I want more people to know about these beautiful spaces, and more importantly, the

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