Breaking Ground on the Next Marriott Chapter

July 2, 2018

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Marriott International broke ground recently on its new global corporate headquarters in downtown Bethesda, MD. As I stood there at the ceremony with a hard hat and shovel, I couldn’t help but marvel. Look how far we’ve come!

When my parents, J. Willard and Alice Marriott, started the company in 1927 in Washington, D.C., it was the eve of the great depression – not the best time to launch a business. My parents were not even from Washington. They drove to the city from Utah – full of determination – in their Model T Ford.

Charles Lindbergh started his solo flight across the Atlantic on the very day that my parents opened the doors of their nine-stool root beer stand. My dad met Lindbergh years later and he joked, “you know, we both went into business on the same day, but you got all the publicity.”

The business grew into the Hot Shoppes restaurant chain, which became a local institution known as much for its Mighty Mo hamburger sauce as a place to go socialize.

The Hot Shoppes no. 3 was the first drive-in restaurant on the East Coast. Right next door was our executive office. It was a two-flight walk-up in an old apartment building. As a little boy, it was a real struggle for me to get up those stairs to see my dad in his tiny office.

Our headquarters was in Washington until 1955 when we relocated to Maryland. We had a small office at first, which we outgrew. We finally moved to our current Bethesda headquarters in 1979. I remember my parents driving to the site in a Model T Ford just like the one they drove to Washington in 1927.

It’s incredible really that today, we are an international company with more than 6,500 properties in 127 countries and territories.

Naturally, as we’ve grown, so has our need for a larger headquarters with more amenities and metro access.

As we begin construction on a new 22-story building for our almost 3,500 corporate headquarters associates, I couldn’t be more proud or grateful.

I thank the state of Maryland, Montgomery County, our building partners, The Bernstein Companies and Boston Properties, as well as the Marriott associates and others who worked tirelessly to make this happen.

My parents would have never believed that their dream of owning a business would one day turn into a company like this. We’re building a beautiful skyscraper and adjacent hotel with their name on it.

More importantly, we’re laying the ground work for the next generation and a bright future.

I’d love to hear your memories of Marriott or the Hot Shoppes in the early days. If you have a story to share, please post it in the comments.

I’m Bill Marriott and thank you helping me keep Marriott on the Move.

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Congratulations on a new Hqs in Bethesda. I worked from 1981 to 1985 at the Democracy Blvd Hqs in the Hotel Loss Prevention Department for Jim Moyer, a person who taught me about SYNERGY and being a member of a team. I was fortunate to work there and to also meet Mr. Marriott who wanted everyone to call him Bill. This was very hard for someone like me who spent 20 years in the Army calling people SIR. But it taught me a lot about the culture of the company where everyone is valued and where LISTENING to employees is so important. I can understand why this company grows every year.

Marriott took a chance on me in 1977 hiring me with no prior experience to do the purchasing for our eastern Big Boy restaurants from Cleveland Ohio. Between taking courses, studying years of purchasing before Marriott bought the chain, I was able with my past operations experience, to bring value to our operations. I was then moved to Chicago to consolidate purchasing for all operations in the Midwest. Finally I was moved to Headquarters to consolidate all purchasing and distribution for the Company. Thanks to Bill Marriott and Bill Virts who had the vision to create this system to make Marriott operations the most competitive in the industry and many thanks to them for teaching me how to conduct business in an honorable, ethical way. I still live by "SUCCESS IS NEVER FINAL'.

I remember as a small child when it was a special occasion for our family to get curb service at the Hot Shoppe located on the corner of Wisconsin Ave and East West Highway in Bethesda, MD way back in the 1950's. I loved the Mighty Mo (I could almost eat a whole one) and the wonderful Orange Freezes.Very fond memories indeed. As I grew up, I stayed in Marriott Hotels whenever I could. I came to be a strong believer in the Marriott quest for superior quality and hospitality. I traveled 80% of the time in my business and there was always a Marriott Hotel Product nearby, where naturally, I stayed. I met Mr Bill Marriott once during the 80's in the Portland, OR Marriott. I have been a Platinum level guest for many consecutive years. And Marriott staff at many hotels address me by my name. I am 67 years old now and have stayed nearly 1000 nites in Marriott properties. I have achieved Marriott Lifetime Gold status and I have my eye on Marriott Lifetime Platinum status. Thanks for your quality properties, great food, spotless rooms and smiling, friendly and "can-do" staff.

I am just several years younger than Mr. Marriott and was also born and raised in DC. I remember going to the Hot Shoppe at 14th & Rhode Island Ave. in DC in the 1940s. It was the family treat to go to dinner there maybe once every 6 weeks, especially for me, because I could always order the turkey dinner. I recall when the turkey dinner price went from $1.25 to 1.50! My father would pull out his change purse to leave a 10% waitress tip on the table. I also remember eating at the Twin Bridges Marriott hotel, the 1st one of now 5000+ such facilities worldwide, in the early 1960s. In 1983 when the Marriott Rewards Point program started and I was traveling a great deal for business, I signed up and at one time had >2 mil Points, allowing me to have multiple free, and great, stays at Marriott properties all around the world. Also became a stockholder starting in the 1980s, and the stock has done tremendously well!
My "association" with the Marriott Family business over the years since the mid-1940s has been one of one of unconditional satisfaction & love.

I remember when I worked at the current headquarters and we (Roy Rogers Group) had to move to a satalite office in Rockville because you were running out of room at the headquarters. Congrats on the new building and continued success of Marriott. The best company I ever worked for. Thank you for 13 great years.

Bill: Your mom and dad were pioneers and the epitome of what an entrepreneur is. My son and I spent the week-end of the 22md at JW Marriott on Adams in Chicago. Your hotels never miss a beat. And while your mom and dad would likely be overwhelmed by what Marriott has grown into, I doubt that they would be surprised at what you have accomplished.
It is remarkable what founders do in business sometimes, but carrying it forward after they are gone is another matter. So hats off to your mom and dad for having the grit to start a company in the great depression and a tip of the cap to son Bill Jr. Congratulations.

I Remember my parents taking me to the Bethesda Hot Shoppe when I was a child. It was about 2 blocks from where the new headquarters are being built. At the urging of my wife, I became a Marriott rewards member which at that time was called Marriott Marquis member in 1983 and have remained a loyal Marriott rewards member ever since. I am about to officially hit my 1,000 nights in in Marriott properties in a few weeks. Unofficially I think I hit that mark last year.