Outgoing BWH Hotel Group President and CEO, David Kong.

BWH Hotel Group President and CEO, David Kong, has announced he will head for a well-earned retirement after 20 years transforming the company into a global industry leader in hospitality and accommodation.

The industry veteran will step down at the end of 2021, bringing to a close a highly successful hospitality career with BWH Hotel Group, which he joined in 2001 before being named as CEO in 2004. His 17 years at the helm of the company makes him the longest serving CEO at any major hotel company.

A new CEO will be named at the company’s Annual Convention in early October.

Among the litany of Kong’s achievements at BWH Hotel Group include growing the company’s brand portfolio from its flagship Best Western Hotels and Resorts to a portfolio of 18 brands under the BWH Hotel Group umbrella and across each market segment from budget to luxury, boutique to extended stay; steering the company to strong RevPAR, occupancy and guest satisfaction ratings and building strong fiscal performance to provide strong returns to shareholders.

VIDEO: David Kong’s peers pay tribute to their retiring leader

Kong has also played a driving role in the company weathering the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw USD$65 million in fee rebates provided to hoteliers since March 2020, introducing an enhanced cleaning policy and new operating standards which resulted in the introduction of the ‘We Care Clean’ protocols.

Kong said he felt very fortunate to have played a role in building BWH Hotel Group into the brand it is today.

“I feel blessed to have been surrounded by exceptional teams throughout my career and through sheer passion and dedication, we have chased bold dreams and achieved what many might have considered impossible,” Kong said.

“I have always wanted to move on at my peak. With our caring culture, our extraordinary hoteliers, executive team, and corporate staff, I have no doubt the best is yet to come for BWH Hotel Group.”

David Kong in 2015 announcing yet another new brand for Best Western Hotels and Resorts.

Kong’s retirement announcement was swiftly followed by plaudits from fellow industry leaders who collectively praised Kong as a mentor and a man who brought a sense of family to life at Best Western.

“David took the company through a significant transformation from a single brand to a multi brand family,” said Choice Hotels International President and CEO, Pat Pacious.

“That required a lot of listening, a lot of partnership and a lot of persuasion, but created a great outcome for his company and his members.”

“Everyone affiliated with Best Western has a similar family feel and I think David did a great job of nurturing that even as he was navigating and leading a very significant transformation for the company,” added Hyatt Hotels Corporation CEO, Mark Hoplamazian.