The Kentucky Hotel & Lodging Association was founded in 1930, as The Kentucky Hotel Association. The members of The Kentucky Hotel Association recognized the need for a voice to represent them and the hospitality business. Together the Association coordinated ideas, energy, and financial resources to collectively advance the causes of the industry. The Kentucky Hotel Association affiliated itself with the American Hotel Association, at the inception of the Kentucky Association.

In 1963, the Association re-iterated its mission statement and changed its name to the Kentucky Hotel and Motel Association. The Association used this as an opportunity to take stock and position itself for the future. Leadership for this step included Garner B. Hanson, Paul Luersen, Russell Anderson, Rudy H. Suck, Nicholas Bosler and Edward J. Bosler. These gentlemen served at the Mammoth Cave Hotel, Brown Hotel, Tyler Hotel, Stouffers, and the Galt House, respectively. At the time, the association was headquartered in Louisville.

The Mission of the KHLA is to provide legislative support for its members plus beneficial informational services, tourism promotion and educational seminars and fraternalism in our industry. Additionally, the association promotes its Allied and Associate members.

Allied Members of the Association are firms who provide products or services to the hotel industry. Associate members include Convention/Visitor Bureaus, Attractions, and other businesses that support of the hospitality industry.

Les Nichols served as Executive Director of the Association for over 30 years prior to his retirement in 1989. In 1983 D. Ray Gillespie joined the Association as our lobbyist, and became Executive Director in 1989 upon the retirement of Les Nichols.

In 1989, the Association moved its headquarters from Louisville to Frankfort. A statewide legislative network was formed to protect industry interests in both Frankfort and Washington D.C. Over the years, countless numbers of adverse legislative bills have been defeated, saving our industry millions of dollars. We have also had great success with proactive initiatives, which support our industry.

The Association promotes hotels, tourism, and sponsors major public relations programs, including Stars of the Industry and Garner Hanson Awards programs. Associates are recognized for outstanding contributions to our industry in the field of Maintenance, Food and Beverage, Front Desk, and Housekeeping. The Garner Hanson Award recognizes outstanding hoteliers who are leaders in their communities as well as in our industry.

In 2008, the organization once again changed its name to reflect changes in the industry. The Kentucky Hotel and Motel Association became the Kentucky Hotel & Lodging Association. The new name was adopted to better reflect the current composition of the industry.

The Kentucky Hotel & Lodging Association has a long and proud history of service to our industry. As times become more complex and communications move at a faster pace, the work of the Association is more critical than ever.

Executive Directors

Les Nichols
Executive Director
1950 - 1989

D. Ray Gillespie 
Executive Director
1989 - 2013

Greg Jewell
Executive Director
2013 to present