A HomeTowne Studios Madison, Ala., formerly known as the Rocket City Suites, is the latest addition to the more than 35% of Red Roof® properties owned by women, since launching its "RIDE with Red Roof" initiative last year. The property is the second Red Roof franchise hotels owned by Jaya Desai, her other Red Roof branded property is also located in Madison, Ala.
The increasing number of women-owned and partially owned hotels has been bolstered by the organization’s RIDE (Road to Inclusivity and Diversity in Entrepreneurship) program. Coupled with its sister program SHE, inspired by Red Roof, an all-encompassing program to Support, Help, and Elevate women, Red Roof is propelling towards its goal of 40% of properties owned or partially owned by women.
Jaya Desai's Journey to Hotel Ownership
When Jaya graduated from college and began working as an accountant in Chicago in 1995, she never thought she would enter the hotel industry. However, after briefly living at a family member’s motel for a year and helping them on property, she fell in love with the business. A short time later, Jaya and her family came across a 30-room independent hotel in Huntsville, Ala. Something spoke to them, and they bought it. Despite knowing little about the industry, Jaya and her family ran the property for 18 years.
“That property meant a lot to me. It’s where my children grew up,” Jaya tells us. “After we sold that hotel, we bought another 80-room independent hotel and went to work on it. During renovations, we heard from friends and family that Red Roof was the best economy brand to work with, so we decided to pursue them.”
Two Red Roof Properties
Once renovations were completed, Jaya re-opened the hotel as the Red Roof PLUS+ & Suites® Huntsville – Madison. Her positive experience led her to renovate another hotel, an aging 40-unit motor lodge called the Rocket City Suites. According to Jaya, the hotel was equipped with apartment-sized rooms but was located outside of residential zoning, so she decided to rework the rooms into suites. One pandemic delay later, the 40-suite HomeTowne Studios Madison is preparing to open.
The property offers numerous amenities, with each suite providing living rooms, full kitchens with refrigerators, dishwashers, a full stove, an oven, a microwave, a casual dining table with four chairs, and washers and dryers in each unit. All rooms also have 40-inch TVs, cable, and free Wi-Fi access. The HomeTowne Studios Madison is also located near numerous attractions, including The University of Alabama in Huntsville, Madison Station Antiques, Huntsville Botanical Garden, and Huntsville International Airport (HSV).
“I am excited to open my second hotel with Red Roof and am thrilled to continue deepening my relationship with this group and their wonderful team,” said Jaya . “Red Roof’s RIDE program, and especially Lina Patel, assisted me with the conversion process every step of the way. In my 25 years in the hotel industry, Lina was the first person to encourage me the way she did. The insight and understanding Red Roof provided has been invaluable.”
“Jaya is a fantastic hotelier and an inspirational woman, and we couldn’t be happier to have her as a member of the Red Roof family,” said Lina Patel, Red Roof’s Director of Strategic Franchise Initiatives. “She has done so much for her family and the communities of both Huntsville and Madison as a business owner.”
“The HomeTowne Studios Madison is a fantastic property in a stunning location, and with Jaya as its owner, it is in good hands,” said Matthew Hostetler, Chief Development Officer at Red Roof. “We are overjoyed to work with Jaya to further her hospitality ambitions and are committed to supporting her ongoing success in these and future endeavors. Thanks to Lina and other fantastic Red Roof team members, including Jennifer Burcham, Franchise Development Director, RIDE with Red Roof continues to elevate aspirational women and minority hotel owners in their growth throughout the industry.”