Hurricane season is hitting hard. Hurricane Irma has made landfall while cleanup is underway in the wake of Harvey. And as the floodwaters start to recede in Houston and other cities in the Gulf Coast, the stories are starting to emerge. Simple acts of kindness can mean the world to someone in need. Marriott International has thousands of associates in the region and nearly 200 of our associates had homes damaged or lost in the storm. But what always amazes me – even in times of personal tragedy – is how our associates and franchisees are able to come together to put others first.
For instance, at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Houston Intercontinental Airport, the team, led by General Manager Devin Frank, transformed their lobby into a rest area for first responders. And the Westin Houston, Memorial City made multiple efforts to accommodate those in need, including creating a rest area for medical personnel and a play area for children to help relieve overwhelmed parents and families. General Manager Kerry Ringham has been astounding in his efforts to help local Houstonians.
Our Business Councils embody our culture and are some of the first to jump in when needed. The San Antonio and New Orleans Business Councils have created a buddy system with their Houston peers, quickly putting together a list of needs and driving trucks to deliver the goods. The Sheraton Dallas Hotel, led by General Manager Mark Sanders, sent 40 people into Houston with goods to provide some relief. Supplies and monetary donations are also coming in from our partner True North Hotel Group, led by CEO Len Wiens, out of Kansas. And I know Apple Hospitality REIT CEO Glade Knight came from Richmond, Virginia, to Houston with donations and made lifelong connections with people going through some of the worst moments in their lives. I’m truly touched by these efforts.
And, then, there is the unexpected guest. In the early morning hours, the Courtyard by Marriott Houston Medical Center received a surprised visitor who had a woman in his stalled car who was in labor. Associates assisted the women in and made her comfortable until others could pick her up in a truck (despite four feet of water) and drive her to the hospital. I was thrilled to hear that she later gave birth to a healthy baby boy! General Manager Tom Mosher has clearly set a standard that his associates were proud to follow.
These moments are deeply personal. Suzy Hart, our General Manager of the Houston Airport Marriott, lost her home in the storm. And despite what was happening to her, she was at the hotel, lending her help and support to her team - and I know that team will be there for her in the next days, weeks and months to come.
Through it all, the heroic efforts and lifesaving missions, sometimes it’s the work our associates do every day that can be what is most needed. We received a wonderful note from an evacuee staying at the Courtyard Marriott Katy Mills:
“I witnessed the amazing spirit of your staff … They offered shoulders to cry on, free meals, and fostered a sense of community that lifted everyone's spirits and confirmed my faith in humanity. People like that make this world a better place. Please convey our sincerest thanks for the visible courage in the face of utter destruction and the selfless service despite the personal losses each of them likely experienced as well.”
I want to thank everyone who pulled together and helped those in need. You are all shining examples of how we should serve our world.
I encourage you to read all the stories on our Heart of House website.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for keeping Marriott on the Move.