Do you know why I love the hotel business? It’s all here in our 4,000 hotel, the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC. There are more twists to this hotel story than the traffic circles from L'Enfant’s original city plan. It took 20 years to get it done, but it’s the end result that matters. In this city of monuments, we’ve built a monumental hotel. It’s the largest in town, connected underground to the convention center, and it should help make DC a big meeting destination. (Below are my grand opening remarks.)
This has been an incredible journey and a homecoming for our business. Just blocks from here, 86 years ago a newlywed couple named J. Willard and Alice Marriott opened a small root beer stand employing six people. They worked hard, pulling apart sticky nickels to deposit in the bank. From my parents’ humble beginnings, hundreds of people will be employed in this one hotel, over half district residents.
The 9th street corridor where the hotel is located has certainly come a long way. The front of the building pays homage to the past by using the façade of the old plumbers building. In the 1940’s and 50’s, just a block or so away from today’s Marriott Marquis Washington DC, was the Gayety Theater. My dad wrote this about the neighborhood, “There were ‘tenderloin’ overtones to the streets. Second-rate movie houses and burlesque theaters.” Somehow I don’t think the word tenderloin referred to steaks.
My dad always believed Washington was a wonderful place to open a business and he sure was right about that. Our Hot Shoppes restaurant success allowed us to enter the hotel business. Even Dad would never have imagined having 4,000 hotels in 78 countries. He’d certainly be pleasantly surprised how the neighborhood has changed – for the better. And how the Anthem restaurant will serve Hot Shoppes’ famous Might Mo hamburger.
Giving my hometown a spectacular hotel is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Leave a comment and let me know how you like the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.