A hospitality management firm at the forefront of the Texas hotel industry

Welcome to KB Hotels, LLC

With a team of industry veterans, seasoned managers, and emerging leaders, KB Hotels brings an unmatched combination of experience, competence, and innovation to its daily operations and developing projects. Together, KB Hotels’ team brings more than fifty years in combined experience in every aspect of hotel licensing, development, and operational management across multiple brands.

This diverse organizational portfolio is further complemented by the management team’s extensive experience outside of the industry, including management of restaurants, apartment complexes, and storage units. Taken together, this background provides KB Hotels’ management team with an invaluable wealth of personal experience and demonstrated competence within the hospitality industry, placing it at the cutting edge of hotel management for prototype products introduced by groups such as Hilton, Intercontinental Hotels, Choice Hotels, and Accor.

Let's meet our team.Kiran "Kenny" BhaktaMeraj BhaktaCy LongJasmin PatelJacquelyn BaummanMarilyn GonzalesDiana ManzanaresJeanie Smilieand others...
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Kiran “Kenny” Bhakta

Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer

Kiran “Kenny” Bhakta is an award-winning hotel developer, owner, and operator and a leader in the Central Texas hospitality industry. In little more than a decade, Mr. Bhakta has built, owned, and operated more than 15 hotel developments across multiple leading brands including Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Comfort Inn & Suites, and many more. In 2008, Mr. Bhakta was named as Advisory Director to National Bank’s Board of Directors, where he provides guidance and advice to the board on hotel lending and the growth of the hospitality industry in Central Texas.

Mr. Bhakta has also been asked in the past to advise owners of other hotels on marketing strategies and operational improvements, frequently helping other hotels improve their performance and meet new goals. His previous firms have assisted with the opening and management of several hotels for other entities such as Dhaliwal Enterprises until they were properly trained and developed the capacity to manage them independently. In addition to his work in the hospitality industry, Mr. Bhakta also operates several non-hotel enterprises including regional franchise Bobby’s Burgers, several Central Texas apartment complexes, warehouse storage complexes, and small suburban housing developments.

Meraj Bhakta

VP of Operations

Meraj Bhakta brings fifteen years of experience in hotel management, with additional knowledge on construction and franchise brand compliance. As Managing Partner of Hotel Indigo Waco-Baylor, he oversees hotel compliance with company and franchise standards and handles all company financials on a daily basis as part of long-term budget planning coordination.

Mr. Bhakta also develops and implements training programs, policies, and procedures for each department of the hotel, setting standards in place to maximize the quality of the guest experience and cultivate a positive culture among staff and personnel. These efforts played a central role in the Hotel Indigo Waco-Baylor earning the IHG Torchbearer Award in 2014,2016 and 2018 based primarily on Best Guest Satisfaction Scores and also winning the Quality Excellence Award in 2015, 2017, 2019. Also achieving the 2020 The Spirit of True Hospitality Award. During the construction of this hotel, he also served as the Owner’s Representative, facilitating the development of the property and managing the on-site Accounts Payable.

In addition, he served as the Owner’s Representative in the company’s Holiday Inn Express in Killeen, TX and the Holiday Inn Express in Gatesville, TX. as they were being developed. He was working with the general contractor on-site during construction to ensure compliance with franchise brand standards.  He also will be working on the future developments for KB Hotels on the following hotels – Cambria Suites, Element by Marriott, EVEN Hotels by IHG and Holiday Inn Express. His pivotal impact in Hotel Indigo Waco-Baylor’s success demonstrates how valuable he is to KB Hotels and serves as a strong example of the leadership he will provide moving forward for years to come. He also serves as a board member of the City of Waco TPID (Tourism Public Improvement District).

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Jasmin Patel

Administrative Service Manager

Jasmin Patel is an administration and management expert with years of direct experience in compensation oversight, wage and tax analysis, contract negotiations, sales, and daily on-site hotel management. As a Senior Global Compensation Analyst for Ernst & Young, Ms. Patel collects, reviews, and analyzes global compensation for a worldwide network with more than 800 expatriates across 63 countries.

Her responsibilities in this role include ongoing reconciliation of compensation data to each country’s wage and tax statements and management of a Bangalore, India-based team dedicated to review and administrative task completion. She also serves as a Project Management and Principal Correspondent for Belton-based Key Hotel Investments. In that capacity, she manages existing and future job site work for hotel development including contract negotiation and discussion, contract completion and submission, and hotel-opening duties including training of new staff. Previous to these positions, Ms. Patel worked as a Sales Representative for Dell, where she learned to thrive under the pressure of sales objectives and goals and honed a skill for training her peers to master new programs, daily tasks, and emerging products.

Jasmine received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Minor in Business Foundations at the University of Texas At Austin. She later earned her MBA from University of Mary Hardin-Baylor with an Emphasis on Management. She speaks fluent English and Gujarati (her native language) and basic Spanish and Hindi. With years of experience on the entire Microsoft Office Suite and OPERA, she also brings a high level of technical mastery to any role she fills and has proven to be capable of mastering new software and technology. With nearly a decade of experience on site development and administrative management, Jasmine Patel will play a vital role in the development and launch of this new venture.

Jacquelyn Baumman

VP of Sales & Marketing

Jacquelyn Baumman is a marketing and sales leader with a remarkable history of accomplishments in her decade-long career in the hospitality and marketing fields. A selfmotivated, goal-oriented people person, Ms. Baumman excels at direct negotiation and team management and demonstrates a constant commitment to new ideas. As the Director of Sales and Marketing at Hotel Indigo Waco- Baylor through KB Hotels, Jacquelyn oversees the sales and catering team.
In her three years with this company, she has achieved success in increasing hotel revenues through innovative management and marketing techniques that have led to unprecedented and truly impressive results.

Leveraging LNR’s, KNR’s, SMERF travel, and long-term partnerships, Ms. Baumman’s strategy, and goals have led to Hotel Indigo Waco-Baylor emerging as the #1 Hotel Indigo for Guest Satisfaction in the Western Hemisphere, also driving RevPAR and increasing RGI to 118 YTD. These efforts contributed to the Hotel Indigo Waco-Baylor winning the Torchbearer Award in 2014, ranking as the top Hotel Indigo in North America. Ms. Baumann also serves as an Owners/Developers Representative for Westin Hospitality, coordinating between Westin’s brand team and design companies and owners, merchants, and contractors to ensure seamless hotel openings. This liaison role also allows her to communicate with onsite management teams, owners, and corporate brand teams once hotels are open and operating, providing Ms. Baumann with direct insight on branding and marketing execution at both administrative and operational levels.

In addition to her far-reaching marketing and hospitality experience, Ms. Baumman also demonstrates an ongoing dedication to her community. For five years, she was a Board Member of the Heart of Texas Autism Network, where she co-chaired the organization’s first two annual Mardi Gras Celebrations in 2011 and 2012 and worked behind the scenes to market and network the organization. Her accolades include ranking in the Top 5 DOSM for Hotel Indigo, being listed in the “Best of Waco,” and being named as the NAPW Woman of the Year in 2014. She is a member of the Junior League of Waco, the Lake Brazos Rotary Club, Autism Speaks, and Wounded Warriors.

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Marilyn Gonzales

General Manager

As a hospitality industry veteran with more than 25 years of personal experience, Marilyn Gonzales possesses a fundamental understanding of how to drive business growth, identify new sources of revenue, and maintain quality across all daily operations. Her background includes direct experience in operations and sales and provides her with a deep well of knowledge in key management areas including pricing and selling strategies, client relations, marketing, financial oversight, purchasing, supervision, and staff motivation and development.

As a team-focused leader, Mrs. Gonzales has demonstrated an exceptional ability to organize resources and overcome adversity to achieve goals while simultaneously enhancing employee morale, making her an ideal leader for any hotel operation. Currently, Mrs. Gonzales serves as the General Manager of Hilton Garden Inn Temple, where she oversees a 133 room conference center hotel. In this role, she leads all managerial staff on achieving profitability utilizing forecasting, cost control, guest satisfaction, and staff development to generate revenue and build brand loyalty among clients.

Her efforts as General Manager of this property have achieved remarkable results, including a #1 ranking among market competitors in RevPAR index with a 5% year over year increase, three consecutive years of “Outstanding” Hilton Quality and Assurance Scores, and minimizing injuries and claims for the property for two years running. During her tenure in this role, she also successfully managed renovations of the lobby, guestroom, and hallway and ensured the project completed within budget. Previous to this role, Mrs. Gonzales served in a variety of roles in the same property. She first joined Hilton Garden Inn Temple as Food and Beverage Manager in 2006, managing the daily operations and earning the Manager of the Year award in 2007. She was promoted to Director of Sales in 2008, a role that she excelled in for three years before becoming General Manager.

As Director of Sales, Mrs. Gonzales grew RevPAR and Market Share through aggressive and forward-thinking sales strategies, maintaining the #1 position in the market for all years and building new relationships with key community groups in the region. Mrs. Gonzales has completed a wide array of training and leadership programs through Aramark and Hilton and maintains an active role in the community. She has served as an Advisor for Leadership Temple High, the TISD Hospitality Career Center, the Goodwill Careers in Retail Initiative, and the Temple Chamber of Commerce Connectivity Board. She was a campaign Cabinet Member for the United Way of Central Texas in 2013 and 2014 and is a current member of the Temple Chamber of Commerce, the Belton Chamber of Commerce. She also mentors at the Methodist Children’s Home of Waco, Texas.

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Jeanie Smilie

Accounting Manager

Jeanie Smilie is a seasoned leader and accounting specialist with more than two decades of experience in the hospitality and hotel industry. Her experience includes nearly every component of financial accounting including financial reports, audits, account analysis, bank reconciliation, and policy and procedure development. In addition, her handson approach to her position provides Ms. Smilie with a unique quality of leadership and customer service, proving time and time again that she is capable of leveraging team resources to handle deadlines, fast-paced projects, and company transition periods.

Since 2008, Ms. Smilie has served as Controller at Hilton Garden Inn. In that time period, she has personally overseen its transition from a managed property to a self-managed property with full responsibility for financial reporting, developing the chart of accounts and implementing hotel accounting programs and successfully navigating through audits in 2014. She also supervised and trained new employees, prepared monthly and seasonal financial statements, and contributed to management of customer inquiries and fee collections. Prior to her time with Scott and White, Ms. Smilie worked in various accounting positions for well-established and successful hospitality entities in Texas including Wedge Hotels Management, Radisson Town & Country, and Akal Investments Corporations.