SGTC Foundation chairman Sharad Patel featured in Sumter County Living Magazine
Sharad Patel and his family have chosen to make Americus home and this community is much better because of his and his family’s involvement. Patel is the owner of the Best Western Plus Windsor Hotel in Americus and serves as the Chairman of the South Georgia Technical College Foundation. He lives by the motto, “wherever you live, that is your home and that is where you give back!”
Patel was featured in the Sumter County Living magazine recently. Sherri Martin interviewed him for the article and David Parks of Americus provided the wonderful photography. The feature shares how “Patel has followed his father’s example and even with a world of experience from four different continents under his belt, Patel has chosen to make Americus his home and his community, and that is where he is giving back . . . in a great, big, historic hotel on a hill where he serves and dreams.”
Sharad Patel was born in Africa, the son on an Indian businessman who had worked in Uganda, which was then a British territory. The youngest of seven children, he enjoyed a privileged life in Uganda. Then in 1963, when Sharad was seven, his father made the decision to move back to his rural home village in India.
“My father wanted to serve his town,” Sharad explains. “In that little town, he founded the high school and libraries.” The experience that Sharad gained from being the youngest son and accompanying his father wherever he would go had a tremendous impact on his life. “I learned a lot from my father in that period of time, including giving back to where you live,” said Sharad.
His father passed away in 1980 and Sharad moved to a bigger city at the age of 24 for a job. “I started working in a factory, and by my first year, with sweat equity, I was made a partner. After that I joined my brother-in-law in a transport business and I got married to my wife, Ila.”
In the early 80s, Sharad moved his family to England to join his brothers, who had been successful in business in London. Together, they bought a shop, a News Agent, which was a corner shop selling newspapers, tobacco, candy, cards, and other items.
“Interacting with the customers 14 hours a day, seven days a week is how I learned to speak English. I felt that was the fastest way to learn,” said Patel. He also spent some time at a university, but decided that since he was not going to be a doctor or an engineer, that was not for him.
Sharad and his brothers sold their business and in the early 90’s. Sharad, and his wife and two sons, Tarang (Vic) and Rushabh, took the opportunity and traveled to the United States for a vacation. He fell in love with this country and the hospitality and friendliness of its people.
He was able to come back and work for a family friend who had purchased a run-down hotel in Jacksonville, Florida and converted it to a Comfort Inn. He stayed in America by himself for eight months helping his friend. “That was my school of hospitality,” he explains. His friend offered to pay him but all Sharad asked was that his friend help him to find the right hotel to renovate himself. That first hotel was a private hotel in Vidalia that he converted to a Days Inn.
He became involved in Vidalia and his family joined him in the United States. The hotel became successful. A friend of his, Chris Barker, moved to Americus and called him and said, “Sharad, this is a cool town. You could do something here.” He came and fell in love with The Windsor, the historic downtown, and antebellum and Victorian homes. He and his family bought the Inns of Americus on Highway 19 and converted it to a Ramada Inn in 1996 and just like in Vidalia, he and his family became involved in the community!
The rest is history. He was able to purchase the Windsor Hotel in 1998. Since that time he has remodeled and built the Windsor Hotel brand, partnering with Best Western to make it something spectacular. Best Western allowed him to keep the Windsor name and preserve the historic integrity of the building. The hotel recently celebrated its 125th anniversary with a gala and people from all over attended.
In less than 25-years in Americus, Sharad Patel and his family have certainly made a tremendous impact. He became involved in the community and partnered with Georgia Southwestern State University and South Georgia Technical College.
Georgia Southwestern State University signed a memorandum of understanding with the university in Sharad’s home state in India. Sharad had the opportunity to take officials from GSW back with him to visit the small village in India where he had lived after moving from Africa. “They saw the impact my father had in the village,” Sharad explains, “and told me, Now I know where it comes from.”
That willingness to give back to where he lives has also led Sharad Patel and his family to establish an endowed scholarship for culinary arts students at South Georgia Technical College. “I wanted to give back and this was a great way for me to give back to the students who I hope to hire in my business,” explained Patel.
As the owner of the Windsor Hotel and as the Chairman of the South Georgia Technical College Foundation, Sharad Patel is definitely impacting Americus and Sumter County as well as “impacting student success @ South Georgia Technical College” through his service to the SGTC Foundation Board of Trustees.
To read the article on Sharad Patel and view the entire magazine visit: https://withyouinmindpublications.com/sumter-county/sumter-county-living-magazine-fall-2019/