– Owner Philippe Cras works from the heart – Homewood Suites by Hilton at Kingwood Parc is still locally owned. Philippe Cras, a resident of Kingwood and the hotel’s owner, was asked to sell two years ago. Happily, Cras said, the hotel did not sell and he is still the proud owner. The idea of a hotel in Kingwood had been brewing for a long time when Cras opened in June of 2000; however, it was an idea that was not “exclusive” for long. “I bought the property from Exxon and built the hotel in 1999. We had moved from Belgium just the year before. I still have to pinch myself,” said Cras. The hotel is doing well, Cras said, thanks to continued community support. “It has not been easy, but it gave us America – the good and the not so good,” Cras said. He went on to explain how he has been known to call the hotel “my accident.” “Mieke and I did not plan to manage the hotel back when we built it in 1999. It was a Hilton – ‘you build it, they come’ – Or, so we thought. We have had several ups and downs with it. The current economic situation brings 2001 to mind. Again, what would we do without the community’s support?” Regarding current economic conditions, Cras remains optimistic. “Our market share remains as high as it has always been or higher. However, all the boats go down when the water level goes down. No difference here. Hotel occupancies have come down, no doubt. Also, the occupancy patterns we had grown to know do not exist any longer. A little more challenging for operations, for example. As revenues go down, we are forced to watch expenses more closely,” he said. Cras likes to say, “What you see is what you get,” when it comes to himself, the hotel and his involvement in the community. “When we moved here permanently from Belgium in 1998, Mieke and I were ‘Mr. and Mrs. Nobody.’ Thanks to the hotel, that is no longer the case,” said Cras. “I tell my kids that in America one can be him/herself. We work from the heart. It is the only way. What you see is what you get. When Hilton asked us to sell the hotel two years ago, our world fell apart. We were not afraid to tell then and are not afraid to tell now. It was rather embarrassing, in fact, but no regrets. How else would we have experienced the quiet, but strong, community support? Should I mention that we could not have come out on the other end without it? No way! Toy drives, book drives, food drives ...You bet!” Cras has worked hard to save the hotel and remain a “giving” partner to the community. “The hotel has been such an incredible tool for us to give back to the community,” Cras said. “That is why I could not figure out why we were asked to sell two years ago. It was hell. Now we are back. The wonderful conversations with the guests and the community-at-large are back. And we found a wonderful General Manager, Deborah Barron. I had known her for many years and she helped us through a lot. I have to pinch myself – only in America!” Cras said he is very happy to be back at the hotel and in touch with the people and the community, adding they will continue to do what they can and asking everyone to dig deep for the current Empty Stocking Toy Drive for HAAM for which Homewood Suites is the biggest sponsor and the Kingwood drop-off point. Photo: Philippe Cras, owner of Homewood Suites by Hilton at Kingwood Parc, is back and is thankful to the community for support. Photo by Trilla Cook

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