Distinguished Alumni Award- James Graves 74

Monday, January 25, 2010


Seven years after earning his degree in elementary education, Twin Cities innkeeper extraordinaire Jim Graves ’74 built his first motel. While that single AmericInn was blossoming into a chain of 220 across the United States, Graves Hospitality Corporation was graduating to more upscale establishments with names like Radisson and Marriott and finally, Graves.

The elegant Graves 601 Hotel – the place the New York Times magazine called “the hottest, most fashionable hotel in town” opened in 1997 in downtown Minneapolis to rave reviews. A rare combination of soothing luxury and high-tech excitement, it filled a niche no other Twin Cities hotel had touched. Soon this stylish Graves flagship will be joined by other hotels with the Graves brand and Graves sophistication in Chicago, New York,  Coronado, Calif., and Costa Rica.

A St. Cloud native, Graves paid his way through St. Cloud State, got a well-rounded education and developed an entrepreneurial spirit that eclipsed his short-lived career as an elementary schoolteacher. As founder and chief executive officer of the Graves Hospitality Corporation, he has enjoyed outstanding success in real estate development and earned prestigious accolades for his hotels.

But watching the development of his family has been even more satisfying. “I will look back on my life and say my greatest achievement is my family,” Graves said. “To be able to watch them grow and succeed has been extremely gratifying.”

In addition to the contributions to the Twin Cities and Central Minnesota, he has been a dedicated community leader and supporter of the arts. He serves on numerous non-profit boards including
the United Way of Central Minnesota, St. Benedict’s development board, Partners Across Borders International, the Salvation Army relief board and the International Lodging Association Board.

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