Published on:

Hospitality Attorney salutes NABHOOD, Andy Ingraham, Mike Roberts, Hank Thomas, Mit Shah and the African American hotel community

16 July 2008

Hospitality lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia at the kick-off for the NABHOOD Annual Convention. If you are not yet a member, sponsor or supporter of NABHOOD — the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers — you need to check out this dynamic organization, whose members own about 325 hotels (up from just 1 in 2001). Thanks to my friend Andy Ingraham, President and Founder of NABHOOD, I am attending the Association’s 12th Annual Summit in Atlanta as a speaker and participant, and JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® is a proud sponsor of this event.

As you can tell from many postings here at, I have been attending (and hosting) hospitality conferences for many years and I can tell you that the energy, vision and skill this group is bringing to the industry is just amazing. I like to think of myself as a great networker — connecting people in the industry to get deals done. But I have met my match. No, I have to say, I have now seen the grand master in action, and I take my hat off to Andy Ingraham and what he helps NABHOOD members do. Congratulations, Andy!

Hospitality Lawyer at NABHOOD Opening Session.

All I can say is that I was truly impressed and inspired.

While some in the industry are talking about hunkering down to weather the current economic downturn, this group is talking about how to get deals done. Who to talk to for financing. Which brand is good for which project. Who to talk to move things forward. This is a group that is taking the long view — they talk about building companies, about building wealth for generations — not just gaining a quick profit for the next deal.

Mike Roberts — Biggest African American Hotel Owner and Leader of Industry

Mike Roberts, Chairman of NABHOOD and owner of Roberts Hotel Group, exemplified the group’s energy and optimism. He calls himself, without apology, “a cold-blooded capitalist, not an entrepreneur”. He pointed out that a capitalist consciously builds wealth for generations, where an entrepreneur is interested in developing a degree of wealth for his or her family.

Roberts Hotel Group owns 11 hotels in 7 states, including the Roberts Mayfair Hotel, a Wyndham Historic Hotel, located in the heart of downtown St. Louis. In addition to the hotels, Roberts’ business empire includes a hotel operating company, real estate, construction, media and aviation enterprises. The company owned by Mike Roberts and his brother, Steve Roberts, owns 3 blocks of property in urban St. Louis, where they grew up and raised families. Appropriately, Mike Roberts’ book is titled “Action has No Season.”

Inspiration from Hank Thomas of Victoria Hospitality

Hank Thomas, another speaker at the opening of the Summit, talked about buying his 5th hotel and how he is working on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th. Two of his hotels are located in Jacksonville, North Carolina, a town where his father could not get into a hotel. Now, he says, he is living the dream of his father.

AAHOA generously supporting NABHOOD with time, resources, and experiences

Mit Shah, founder and president of Noble Investments gave perspective to the audience when he described how his father started the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) because Asian Americans faced insurance problems and discrimination in other aspects of their hotels. Now AAHOA is approaching 10,000 members and its members own about 45% of the hotel rooms in the United States.

On the investment side of the industry, he finds hotels to have the best ratio of cash flow to capital appreciation, which he said is proven out by 25 years of study. “Those who really spend their time – the active investors – really do well, much better than passive investors.” But he reminded us all that there is great volatility in the industry.

“If you are in the lodging business, you better have great timing or develop an organization that has great talent, access to capital, and is active in managing to create value . . . a sustainable operation,” he said.


NABHOOD’s members are attracting significant hotel investment dollars from organizations and wealthy individuals that want to invest their wealth within the African-American business community. NABOOD’s mission is to increase the number of African-Americans developing, managing, operating and owning hotels; increase vendor opportunities & executive level jobs for minorities, thereby creating wealth within the African-American community. We are fortunate that this organization’s vision is also giving the entire industry a potent shot of energy, inspiration, and business acumen. (For more information, go to

This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $87 billion of hotel transactions and more than 100 hotel mixed-used deals in the last 5 years alone. Who’s your hotel lawyer?

Our Perspective. We represent developers, owners and lenders. We have helped our clients as business and legal advisors on more than $125 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 4,700 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at or 310.201.3526.

Jim Butler is one of the top hospitality attorneys in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” or “hotel mixed-use” or “condo hotel lawyer” and you will see why.

Jim devotes 100% of his practice to hospitality, representing hotel owners, developers and lenders. Jim leads JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® — a team of 50 seasoned professionals with more than $87 billion of hotel transactional experience, involving more than 3,900 properties located around the globe. In the last 5 years alone, Jim and his team have assisted clients with more than 100 hotel mixed-use projects — frequently integrated with energizing lifestyle elements.

Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them.

Jim is frequently quoted as an expert on hotel issues by national and industry publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and Hotel Business. He is the Conference Chairman of The Hotel Developers Conference™ and Meet the Money®.

Contact him at or 310.201.3526. For his views on current industry issues, visit

Contact Information