Visit Oakland taps Dhruv Patel, local hotel veteran from Ridgemont Hospitality, as new board chairman – San Francisco Business Times – San Francisco Business Times

Oakland’s destination marketing organization has a new fresh face at the helm of its governing board: Dhruv Patel, president and chief operating officer of Ridgemont Hospitality, has been appointed chairman of Visit Oakland’s board of directors, the organization announced Monday.
Patel, 35, is Visit Oakland’s youngest chairman to date. He’s been in the hospitality industry for 13 years, most recently overseeing the development of Oakland’s first new hotel in 19 years in the Hampton Inn at 387 11th Street, and serving previously as general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites Oakland Airport. The avid golfer and University of San Francisco alum was born and raised in Oakland and serves on the board of the California Hotels & Lodging Association (CHLA) and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.
“Oakland has a lot of momentum right now, even pre-pandemic — development happening downtown, the culinary scene, the authenticity of these different neighborhoods,” Patel told me. “Oakland is its own formidable destination.”
Part of Patel’s initial moves involves building back committees and working groups from prior to the pandemic. Like the rest of the hospitality industry, 2020 was a devastating year for the destination-marketing organization, as widespread hospitality closures and travel restrictions prompted layoffs of two-thirds of staff, reducing headcount to half a dozen employees.
“We share the same vision for making Visit Oakland the best (destination marketing organization) to work with, and a joint commitment to innovative marketing and cutting-edge technology,” said Peter Gamez, Visit Oakland’s recently appointed president and CEO, in a statement. “Dhruv’s passion for Oakland is contagious.”
While Gamez will oversee day-to-day duties at Visit Oakland, Patel said he will support and oversee the 21-member Board of Directors as its finalized form takes shape, and he will double-down on “the broader vision … making sure that our hotels, restaurants, event venues — their voices are heard and represented, and that the organization is driving real value for the city and stakeholders overall.”
Patel’s father Pravin and mother Sima immigrated to the United States in the 1970s from from Tanzania and India, respectively, and entered the hospitality industry shortly after managing a small lodging establishment in Oakland. Pravin founded Ridgemont Hospitality and with Sima as CEO and Dhruv as COO have built a portfolio of six Bay Area corporate hotels, two of them in Oakland and five in Alameda County.
Visit Oakland is a private non-profit and is funded by the city’s hotel occupancy tax and the Oakland Tourism Business Improvement District. The organization’s balance for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, the last year publicly available, was $2.9 million.
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