In 1962 Irby Cooper and his father, Louis, entered the hotel business. They formed CSS Hotels with two partners – Raymond Shainberg, a Memphis attorney, and his father-in-law, Louis Sturman. They started by purchasing the Holiday Inn franchise for Gatlinburg, Tennessee, then a mountain village. At first, Kemmons Wilson, Holiday Inn founder, cautioned the new partners. But they departed from his roadside, business hotel tradition and established one of the first Holiday Inn resorts.

Now in its third generation of family leadership, Cooper Hotels has achieved success by excelling in the construction and management of hotels, the innovative development of new services and affiliations only with the Hilton Family of Hotels, the industry's premier hotel brands. From its history with that very first Inn, Cooper Hotels has fashioned its properties and service with its discerning customers in mind, a tradition that will continue for years to come.