Parth Patel has lived in the Hot Springs community for the past 16 years. He’s known as a hotelier, Chamber of Commerce board member, rotarian and, most recently, buyer of the Medical Arts Building. While the news of the building’s purchase has been a local hot topic, little know of the purchasers themselves.
Patel would like to make one thing clear: Hot Springs is his home, and it brings him joy to continue to invest in his community with the purchase and redevelopment of the building.
The building was purchased by Patel and his father, Vijay Patel, in April 2021. Their company is called VIPA Hospitality, and through it they have built three hotels from the ground up in Hot Springs, and have purchased three more. Within the next 24 months, the Medical Arts Building is planned to be their seventh hotel in the community.
During last week’s National Park Rotary Club’s meeting, Patel and his father enlightened his home Rotary Club on their plans moving forward, but more importantly, who they are as people. Working to get better acquainted with the community, and next speaking at the July Downtown Association Meeting, Parth gave The Post a full run-down of his family's and their business' story.
“I want people to know that, first off that we’re not outsiders,” Patel said. “Our name may sound a little different and what-not, but we’ve always been invested in Arkansas, since 1992."
To start from the beginning, Vijay and his wife Bharati immigrated to the U.S. from Gujarat, India, in 1978. Both having their medical degrees by that time, they began practicing, and started their family in the Chicago suburbs. About a decade later, the Patel’s took note of their friends’ ventures in the hotel industry, and purchased their first 18-room motorlodge in Orlando, Florida.
By 1992, they purchased their first hotel in Arkansas. It started with Pine Bluff, and two years later they purchased land in Hot Springs to build what is now the Hampton Inn on Temperence Hill. This was Parth’s first introduction to the city. Just a freshman in high school at the time, he said his family would vacation to Hot Springs every summer, doing all the fun things like boating, go-karting and playing mini golf.
By 2005, right after Patel graduated from Purdue University, his father was looking to build its third hotel in Hot Springs, but wanted him temporarily on-site while they expanded their business in the community.
“At first, I really wasn’t too keen on it because, you know, I’m moving from a big city being in the Chicagoland area and living fulltime in Hot Springs,” Patel said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ But then I thought about it, and he was kind of like, ‘Oh, we’ll just have you down there for a few years or whatever, and try to bring you back,’ but that few years is now 16.”
So while his parents stayed in Munster, Indiana*, Patel and his wife Tejal started life in Hot Springs. Now, Tejal is a nurse at CHI St. Vincent, they have a six-year-old daughter and he is obviously still pursuing local hotels.
“I love Hot Springs,” he said. “I don’t think we would continue to invest in Hot Springs if we didn’t believe in the city and the growth.”
With the Medical Arts Building, VIPA has been looking to purchase and rehabilitate it since
“It’s not going to be an easy project by any means," Patel said. "It’s probably going to be one of our most challenging projects, but before I moved here our company built and ground-up developed over 20 hotels in the Chicago suburbs. … We’re no stranger to hotel development, ground-up construction, renovations."
In fact, this will be VIPA's third historical renovation; the first being in Chicago, and the second being the rehabilitation of Hotel Frederica in downtown Little Rock.
“Over the years we’ve studied the building and even during this process we got a structural engineer report done, and it’s a structurally sound building,” he said, adding, "It's an old building with good bones."
The following is a photo and some sketches Patel shared during the Rotary Club meeting:
Patel said is happy and excited for the upcoming project. He's also glad that it's a local developer coming in to save the building cherished by the community, and that the building's final chapter will be in the hands of a family full of doctors**. He said it's as if the building has come full circle.
“The Medical Arts Building was built for basically the Skyscraper of Health,” Patel said. “I think when it originally opened in 1930, it had 55 physicians working there … but it had countless other medical-related businesses. So on the first floor there was a pharmacy, along with a coffee shop, and I believe on the fourth or fifth floor there was a medical laboratory. On the 15th floor they had a very … impressive medical library where physicians can go up and do medical-related research.
“I just thought it was really neat and kind of cool that maybe the final chapter of the building will be written where it says a physician-led hotel group came in and basically saved the building from further decay, to rehab the building and open it as a hotel property.”
*Munster, Indiana, is 28.5 miles outside of Chicago, and is often thought of as a Chicago suburb, despite technically being in Indiana.
** Patel said along with his parents, he has a brother, cousins and uncles who are also doctors.