When Davonne Reaves and Jessica Myers met as college students in the early 2000s, they never imagined they’d one day become business partners. Owning a hotel? Well, that was not even on the radar for the hospitality and journalism majors, then deeply entrenched into their studies. As two young African American women who’d grown up in working-class families in the South, the mere idea of hotel ownership seemed unfathomable. Some 11 years later, the fellow Georgia State University alum have done just that – and they are believed to have made history in the process.
Atlantans Myers and Reaves, both 33, formed a hotel ownership group of mostly millennials, partnered with Nassau Investments to acquire the Home2 Suites by Hilton El Reno, Oklahoma, located about 30 miles from Oklahoma City. Their investment into the $8.3 million deal is believed to have earned them the notable distinction of becoming the youngest African American women to ever co-own a property in a major hotel chain. “I never thought by the time I was 33 that I’d be a hotel owner, but I admit that it feels great to have accomplished that at this point in my life,” says Reaves, mom to a 2-year old son. “Making history in the process, well that’s just icing on the cake!” Myers says the venture overall was a solid investment, but it also ties into some “big picture” goals that she and Reaves share: “Statistically only two percent of hotel owners are African-American, and we want to change that,” she says. “There’s a big void there and we want to help fill it.”