Dear Blog Readers,
2012 has been one of the most interesting and extraordinary years of my life. I changed jobs, traveled the world and spent more time with my family. When I stepped down as president and CEO, my schedule opened up a little bit. Donna reminded me, however, that she didn’t marry me for lunch. I don’t play golf, so I kept coming to the office and no one kicked me out (at least not yet).
It was a year of round numbers. I turned 80 years old (more on this later); I’ve been working at the same company for 60 years; the company celebrated its 85th birthday, and I handed the company over to a non-family member, Arne Sorenson, whom I’m sure will take it to new heights.
The end of March was really a special time. I celebrated my birthday at Camelback Inn with my immediate family, the next day with our General Managers at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live, and finally a week later back at headquarters where a huge assembly of associates had gathered in the lobby. I must confess, I got a little choked up by all the outpouring of affection. Donna joined me onstage at the GM's conference, and the Ferrari cake they baked was a lot of fun. Wow, what a car!
In June, I took a business trip to China and was amazed at the growth. The day I returned, I entered an eight-hour meeting. Boy, was that great. (Hey, no one kicked me out.) A few weeks later, our family went on vacation to Europe and a took a cruise to Sicily, Malta, Tunisia and some of the Italian islands. It was new territory and I saw a lot of beautiful parts of the world.
At last count, Donna and I have four children, 15 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren and an aging dog, Murphy. Murphy is the only one who listens to me. We really enjoy our summers together in New Hampshire. He’s too old to chase the mallards on the lake any more, but I caught him watching them out of the corner of his eye.
There was one great big addition to our hotel family – the Gaylord Hotels – almost 8,000 rooms. I visited Gaylord here in Washington and I met Shrek. I welcomed their associates, whom they call “Stars,” and crossed off an item on my bucket list when I took a plunge down an ice slide. It wasn’t the smoothest of landings, but there were no broken bones. (There will be a future blog on that adventure.)
As I write this letter, some other big events are happening. CNBC aired a major documentary on our company, and my new book, Without Reservations, is at the printers and just about to be released.
While I'm not a braggart, I want to brag about my wife, Donna. We’ve been married 57 years. I wasn’t always around when the children were growing up. I’m really not around very much today either. I’m still building the business, visiting our hotels and peeking in from time to time on our new CEO Arne Sorenson from time to time. He’s been very patient and understanding of me and my new role.
Donna and I have weekly dates where we grab a hamburger and see a movie. My kids think it’s kind of corny, but who wouldn’t want to take a beautiful woman on a date and hold hands at the movies?
So, I have so much to be thankful for and I am so proud of our entire Marriott family. Next year, I plan to continue to travel, visit more hotels and see more associates. As Mark Twain wrote: “I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead.” There are so many places left to visit. After all, 80 is the new 60.
Happy holidays and watch out for those brag letters. All the best in 2013, Bill.