105 | Jay Lallu for AAHOA Secretary


Jay Lallu has a unique path to the hospitality business. He was born and raised in Colon, Panama. Jay could not continue his college education as his father had fallen sick. To provide for his family, he started to work at a retail store in Colon. This opened the doors for him to begin working in wholesale importing and exporting for a few months. The experience of doing time in retail and wholesaling allowed him to open a retail store of his own where he sold cosmetics, perfumes, and other gift items.

Jay saw a new opportunity in traveling to clients in Guatemala, Ecuador, and Colombia to become a wholesaler for factories in India, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. Jayesh’s other business ventures included Indian groceries and getting Indian movies in theaters in Panama before he finally decided it was time to move his family to the United States.

Jay, his wife Rina, daughter Hershila, and mother Savitaben landed at a 124 room Best Western in Athens, Texas. With little experience, he worked as the General Manager, while his wife was the Head Housekeeper. After doing his time in Athens, Jayesh and his family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana to operate a Howard Johnson. His many years of service at these two businesses, he was finally able to purchase and operate his first property, Days Inn in Fordyce, Arkansas.

He was not to be intimidated by being a new small business owner in a new town. He immediately became involved in various organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, in Fordyce. After much success with his first property, Jay purchased a second Days Inn in Cabot, 15 miles north of Little Rock.

After spending many years moving in attempts to provide for his family, Jay and his family reside in Cabot, Arkansas, where he enjoys watching movies, spending quality time with family, following politics, and giving back to his local community.

In This Episode, Jay Talks About:

  • His current role on the board, how long he has served, and why AAHOA is important to him.
  • Leadership and what he feels makes an effective leader.
  • Legislative awareness, how laws at the local, state and federal level can drastically impact our businesses, and his plan to encourage proactive participation by our industry professionals.
  • Relationships with franchisors, the need for more balanced franchised agreements, and how he plans to address accountability for the Franchisors.
  • The committees he has served on with AAHOA, which one he is most proud of, and why.
  • Vendors, the integral part they play in AAHOA’s financial stability, and his plan to strengthen relationships with them.

Resources & Links

  • 311 | Shelters From the Norm: Hotels used for hospitals and housing face unexpected problems

    A year ago, Darshan Patel, CEO of Hotel Investment Group in San Diego, California, was one of the first hoteliers in the U.S. to step up and offer properties to overwhelmed hospitals seeking places to care for COVID and non-COVID patients as well as vulnerable populations. As the crisis eases and Hotel Investment Group works to return the hotels to business, Patel is negotiating with local governments to pay for the wear and tear on the properties. Patel is not alone as many hoteliers are unexpectedly dealing with problems that state and local governments’ urgent decisions have created, including property damage, increased costs and eviction bans. This report is the second in a two-part series examining the pros and cons of opening hotels to alternative uses during the pandemic. It is part of Long Live Lodging’s special coverage of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the hospitality industry.

  • 310 | Hotels Convert to Housing: Federal COVID-19-relief funds fuel transactions

    Dhruv Patel, president of Ridgemont Hospitality, in October shared a bittersweet moment with his parents, Pravin and Sima Patel, when the family business sold the first motel that Pravin had built from the ground up more than 30 years ago. But they rest assured knowing it was the right decision because the 22-room property is being converted into affordable housing for military veterans at risk of homelessness. The transaction is among hundreds taking place across the U.S. as state and local governments work with non-profit agencies to create affordable housing solutions for vulnerable populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In Episode 310 Long Live Lodging reports on the financial and legal aspects of what it takes to convert a hotel into long-term housing. This report is part of Long Live Lodging’s special coverage of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the hospitality industry.

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