A Safe Haven

June 14, 2016

DSC00933It’s not uncommon for me to hear about how the teams at any one of our 4,400 hotels are going above and beyond to help a guest. It’s one of our core values… putting people first.

I recently came across a newspaper article about the Courtyard Newark – University of Delaware. Their concept of putting people first didn’t just stop at associates or guests… they put an entire community first.

For years, the hotel team has been quietly creating a safe haven for families with autistic children. It started with one local family dropping off a letter in “Santa’s Mailbox” at the hotel one Christmas. The director of operations, Tracy Holmes, later invited the family to swim in the hotel’s pool and to bring along some other families like hers.

Before long, dozens of families with autistic children were regularly gathering at the hotel pool to enjoy a comfortable, welcoming environment. They dubbed themselves the “MarriOtters” and found the water to be a calming, judgment-free place to bring their children. The hotel then offered their meeting rooms for the MarriOtters to have movie nights and holiday parties.


Tracy Holmes led the effort on behalf of the hotel and gathered support from her team to accommodate these families. Sadly, Ms. Holmes passed away last year but her legacy lives on through the MarriOtters and the hotel team that serves them.

I love what Bill Sullivan, the managing director of the hotel had to say, “I’m glad we’ve been able to help these families. But, honestly, it’s more about what these families have done for us. My team has learned so much about autism and how to help kids on the spectrum.”

That says it all right there, doesn’t it? Putting people first—putting an entire community of families first—is not just about good business. It’s about making the world a better place.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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