Fifty Years in the Hotel Business

January 19, 2007

Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Motel Hi, this is Bill Marriott, and I'm talking to you from my office at Marriott International Headquarters in Maryland.  You know, I've had a lot of great comments on that first blog.  Thank you for participating and for letting me know how you feel.

We have a great anniversary this week.  It's our 50th year in the lodging business.  It was 50 years ago on about January 18th that we opened the first Marriott Motor Hotel at the 14th Street Bridge in Washington.  It was just a big motel - 365 rooms.  We had an outside check-in so we could see who was in the car.  We got $8 a night for those rooms, and if there was an extra person in the car, we got $1 for every extra person.  So when we were busy, we got as much as $12 for a room.

Every room had two double beds and a television set.  They weren't color back in those days.  We had boys on bicycles that would take you to your room because we were a big, spread out motel.  We didn't have any room service. We didn't have any convention space.  I'm not sure how we took reservations - or if we took any at all.  It was a blast, and it was really fun trying to understand the business and understand the customer of the '50s.

Back then, my job was to handle the scissors at the ribbon-cutting.  My mom and dad cut the ribbon with a couple of great friends - two were in government and two were not.  There they stood cutting that ribbon.  I handed them the scissors, and we opened our first Marriott hotel.

We filled up during President Eisenhower's inaugural.  Then the day after the inaugural, we went down to 15 percent occupancy and stayed there until Easter, when everybody came to Washington.  However, we did fill up for the Washington's Birthday sales.  Everybody came to Washington back in those days for a $5 television set or whatever they could buy for a bargain because we had big Washington's Birthday sales back in 1957.

But it's been a ball to grow this business and watch it come from such a small beginning, and a very uncertain beginning because we did lose money for the first couple of years in the hotel business.  We asked ourselves many times, "What are we doing in this business?"  But here we are, and we continue to grow it.

Thanks a million for participating in our blog.  Many of you asked me for the recipe of the Mighty Mo's. You can find it by clicking on this link.  And that's my 50th anniversary gift to you!  Thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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It seems you have a dead link for the Mighty Mo recipe.

Hello Mr. Marriott, how are you? I'm going to school to be a small business owner and eventually I want to make it a chain, like Marriott. I had some questions, what is the complete history of sucess of Marriott. In example, how much did it cost to start your hotel business? I know before there was a resturant before, how was that? Now that Marriott has been so sucessful, how much does the company make in a year? A month? Thank you so much. This is a project I'm doing for my business class.

Thanks so much for the contribution to the web community. I feel these entries are really a great opportunity for us to get to know you and your company on something more than a business level. Additionally, they are exceptionally interesting for those of us interested in the hotel business.

When was the Twin Bridges Marriott hotel closed and demolished? I didn't realize that it was the first hotel you opened.

Dear Bill,
the fact that you share your thoughts and insights with the webcommunity is just awesome! I truly enjoy reading your blog.
Thanks for doing that,

I am delighted to see that your hotel lists Places of Worship amongst the activitie for the guests that stay at your facilities. I stayed at the Torrance location and it was a pleasant surprise to see that listed. I will recommend your facility to anyone. I appreciate the service and the accommodations. God Bless all of you.
Patricia A. Clayton

I just found out that you are part of a group that is pushing for amenesty for people in our country illegally. I will NEVER stay at one of your hotels again!

Bill, Congratulations of 50 years of wonderful service. As I write this, I am staying at the Marriott Towne Place Suites in Springfield, VA. I stayed at the Twin Bridges in 1983 on my first business trip. At the time, the hotel was getting old and showing its age, but the service was fabulous. They say that first impressions in the business world can make or break a company. Obviously your company has made many great impressions. Over the last 24 years I have spend hundreds of nights at your hotels, and I especially enjoy your Residence Inn's. Again, congratulations on your company's milestone.

I live on the grounds of the JD Marriott Resort and Spa at Desert Springs, CA. The golf course is in very poor shape, greens and sand traps need a lot of work. The water hazard in front of my house on the 17 th tee, Palm Course, looks like a cest pool. The fountains on 13 and 14 don't work half of the time. I have complained to managemant without success. I know there is a lot on money being spent on the remodeling of the hotel but the staff should be able to keep the grounds and golf course up to the high standards you would expect with a J D Marriott facility.
Thank you,

I would love to see Twin Bridges reopened by Marriott, giving guests the opportunity to stay there again! :) That would be amazing! Thanks Bill!

Very inspiring to read this blog.
shirdi saibaba bless all

Well a successfull way. But I wonder wether it still works like this.
Sometime ago (2weeks) I applyed for a Job in one of yor Hotels. Untill now, I didn´t even got an answer that the HR-Mgr received my application. It is very surprising, because itis not in context with The Marriott Way as I heard and have seen.
Best regards

congratulations on 50 years in business and on your personal participation in that. It is a lot to look back on.
Sometimes Marriott moves too fast to keep up with. I am in a location that gets only dialup internet. There are a lot of us in that fix. Marriott has embraced high speed technology to the extent that your website is practically useless to those of us on slow speed, since each page can take up to 10 minutes to fully open. Could Marriott please add a link to a dialup version with fewer images and more text for us? It will take me all day to get the info I need to do best arrange my business trip and meeting schedule for only one stop because of all these content rich sites. Thanks, Sue

Dear Mr. Marriott, Heard your interview on NPR this morning and it brought back fond memories of when I worked for my father. Glad you graduated from your work in the kitchens of the hotels to the home office! Jane

Mr. Marriott congratulations on completing 50 years in the hotel business.
I was at JW Marriott for a company conference today and as always it was a pleasure being to the Marriott. Is there any site where I can read about your biography and the Marriott history and business philosophy?. Thank you.

When did Marriott start referring to its guests as merely customers? (in response to Marriott's reply containing's main purpose is to communicate with customers, we're focused on posting their comments...)

Dear Mr Marriott, As I write this, I am once again, on the move as well, in my room at the Chicago Marriott O'Hare. I remember staying at the Twin Bridges Marriott back in the mid-60's on two family vacations to Washington. My brother and sister and I loved the big swimming pool there. Many years later, December 1988 to be exact, I moved to Crystal City, VA. I enjoyed bicycling all over Arlington, Fairfax and Washington, and one day realized that I must be close by the old place. Sure enough I found it, but it was not what it had once been, having been closed for some time. Some months later, I happened by again on my bicycle and sadly, the wrecking ball was doing its work on the old place. A chapter closed. Of course, by that time there were both the Crystal City and Crystal Gateway Marriot hotels quite nearby. Thanks for memories.

Hi Bill -
Congratulations on your new Blog. Just another example of Marriott's committment to their customers. I am, and have been, a very loyal customer, reaching Platinum level in your rewards program several years ago. The Marriott brand is my hotel of choice primarily because of your committment to providing a consistent brand focused on the comfort, convenience and excitement of the traveler. Of course traveling as much as I do, both for business and pleasure, I have encountered less than desirable traveling issues on a rare occasion. But not once have I experienced anything less than a total committment on the part of your employees to address the issue with my happiness at the forefront of the resolution.
Another reason I am excited to hear of your blog is because some 27 years ago I was about to graduate from college and considering my career path. Having always had very strong feelings concerning dollar value and service excellence I seriously considered a career in the hospitality industry. However, with a strong pull from the banking industry I chose that path and have had a very rewarding experience. Now that I have the exciting opportunity to explore the second half of my career I am again looking at your industry as a great avenue to persue Customer Service Excellence. What suggestions would you have for someone like myself, with 27 years of banking management experience, to move into the hospitality industry focusing on applying strong leadership skills to delivering service excellence? Any suggestions, especially relating to the Marriott brand, would be very appreciated. Again, thank your for this communication avenue and good luck with the blog.

Mr Marriott, I absolutely love staying with your hotel's and resort's. I have been staying with you for years and will continue to do so. I also enjoy and find your blog very interesting. Keep up to good work!

Congratulations on this web site. Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy my stays at all the Marriott properties. They are extremely clean, comfortable and reasonably priced. The rooms are very relaxing. I wish to bring to your attentions my favorite Marriott property: The Courtyard, Utica, Michigan. I stay there quite often when I am in the Metro Detroit area, either on business or pleasure. I have never met a more pleasant staff. The front desk personnel always make me feel most welcome. The restaurant staff see to my every need at breakfast. I feel that this facility is my home away from home. Please take a moment to express my thoughts to that great staff. Also the same can be said for the Towne Place Suites in Sterling Heights, MI. I close also by saying that my stays in all Marriott properties across the U.S. are alway very pleasant. I have recently became a member of Marriott Vacation Club. This decision was based in my (and my wife, also) experiences with your hotels. Thanks, Jim Moffitt

Its like listening to one of the stories my granddad tells.
Verry nice and always interesting

I have been a Platinum member of the Marriot Rewards program off and on for over nine years and thank you for such great, reliable service. While I love the fact that almost every Marriott Hotel room has a consistent feel, I recently had a fantastic time at the new Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg, IL. Several of my co-workers have now also stayed there and they have sure enjoyed it. All the best for continued success and many thanks for the restful nights!

Mr. Marriott,
Keep up the good work! I really enjoyed reading your blog.

I grew up in Washignton in the 1950s eating Mighty Moes (with the secret sause) at Hot Shoppes all around the DC area. Remember the Hot Shoppe in the Key Bridge circle before the hotel was built and when the 14th St. Marriott opened. We stay in a Marriott whenever we can when we travel. Only complaint--no exhaust fans in the bath rooms. You run a great business and have great people. Congratulations on 50 years in the hotel business.

Dear Mr. Marriott,
I love your hotels and most of them have whirlpools which is a mini vacation! I don't smoke so the new policy doesn't affect me. I however am a Hilton Gold member because they don't use calendar years for their eligible stay towards elite. I am a Marriott Silver and feel that I could be a Gold if Marriott changed the program to your own stay pattern. Maybe make certain hotels count as two or three stays to drive people to higher status. Trust me a Gold status is a make or break factor in making my future reservations! Keep up the good work!