For over 42 years, Michael Harrell spearheaded the Vista Host’s growth and profitability. With a strong commitment to the Vista Host vision and mission, he was responsible for the company’s long-term growth strategy and dynamic positioning in the hospitality industry.
He began his career at the nuts and bolts level of hotel management in 1961. In 1970, he became a partner of Lufkin Properties with five hotels, later merging the company with Servico, Inc, a publicly held hotel development and management company. During his tenure as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Servico, the number of company owned / operated hotels increased from 16 to 33.
After having risen quickly through the ranks in the corporate hospitality sector, in 1977 he founded Vista Host, a hotel development and management company which has garnered industry praise due to his relentless pursuit of distinction and legendary service. He earned a number of prestigious accolades during his career, including having served as President of International Association of Holiday Inns (IAHI) from 1984-1985, as well as having been a celebrated member of the Hilton Advisory Board for Hampton Inn in 2012, he was bestowed with the prominent Lifetime Achievement Award form Hilton Worldwide.
Michael was born on August 11, 1941 in Carmi, Illinois. He pursued his collegiate studies at both Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as the University of Evansville, from which he earned his B.S degree. It was during the latter matriculation where Michael was introduced to the hospitality industry while he worked as a hotel night auditor during college.
In 1960, he married Lindo Babcock in Golcanda, Illinois. Michael revered his wife, Linda, with whom he shared his passion for life, for travel, and for benevolence. He embraced devoted relationships with his two daughters, Lisa and Sarah, and he tremendously enjoyed traveling with them and their families. Michael beamed with pride for his four grandchildren, often sharing their noted accomplishments with colleagues and friend.
On Thursday, February 14, Michael Harrell passed away at his home in Austin, Texas at the age of 77. Michael fulfilled his wholehearted journey on this Earth, finally succumbing to Leukemia, while leaving behind on unparalleled legacy of excellence, esteem, and endearment. Michael will be remembered for his industry vision, his passion for superlative results, and his compassionate spirit. For the thousands whose lives he touched, we ask that you find peace in the countless memories of Michael, just as he has now found peace with God.
Mr. Harrell is survived by his wife, Linda, their two children, Lisa and Sarah, as well as four grandchildren, Davis, Hope, Grant, and Hannah.