The number of legendary entrepreneurs who built the hotel business has shrunk by one. Roy Winegardner, former Holiday Inns CEO and chairman and a master hotel developer and operator, died Sept. 30 at age 89.
Winegardner was part of the Kemmons Wilson gang that launched the boom in roadside and interstate hotels in the mid-1950s. In 1957, he built his first Holiday Inn in Lexington, KY. The following year, he teamed with John Q. Hammons, another living legend, to form Winegardner & Hammons, which developed, owned and/operated more than 100 hotels in the past 50 years. Hammons later left the company to form his own very successful development and management businesses.
In the late '60s, Winegardner merged 23 of his hotels with Holiday Inns, Inc. and by 1974, he was named president of the company. He later followed Kemmons Wilson as chairman of Holiday Inns.