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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I just saw your interview on Fox News. You sir advocate amnesty for illegal aliens, criminals sir, not immigrants.
I will never stay at your hotels ever again.
Contrary to popular belief these illegal aliens are a drain on our economy and reduce opportunities for all. You simply need to look at the long lines of applicants at the various Swift plants (after the INS raids) to see that the illegal is taking away jobs that people want.
Y es muy importante que entiendo yo soy no racista. Quiero muchas inmigrantes aqui, inmigrantes legales.

Cool stuff, Mr. Marriott! Showing your enthusiasm for listening really attests to the character of your hotel.

I am a long-time Marriott patron. Love you various accomodations from Fairfield to Marquis, but I am curious why some of your brands offer free internat connection while others do not. I assure you, It is a key part of selecting accomodations in my frequent (constant) business travel.

Great job on the new beds. I recently stayed many nights in many different hotels from Hilton Head to St. Augustine and Birmingham to St. Louis. It was like heaven for me to wake up every morning it really made the stays very enjoyable. Thanks so much for serving, caring and listening to your customers.

My FAVORITE hotel chain! I am a Lifetime Platinum member and always feel like my stays at Marriott are special. I travel for a living, and your chain, in each of the incarnations, is first rate. Great to have you as a fellow 'Blogger'.

On recently saw your on Foxnews and was cheering because of your support of immigration! Finally there is someone in the Corporate World who has compassion on these people!