The Big 8-0

March 29, 2012

The big 8-0.  So, how does it really feel?  A lot like turning 79.  But obviously there’s more significance to eighty.  These “zero” birthdays are tough.  But once the celebrations die down, I’ll be retired as CEO and entering a new phase of my life. 

Below is a video from a suprise birthday party from my extended family of 1300 GM's and associates.  I was barely able to hold it together.  Take a look.  


I do want to share highlights from my birthday party at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa:

The best part -- I was surrounded by family and every year the family gets bigger.   When the photo was taken, we had 39 people in the picture -- 15 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. The newest arrival is Donna Rae who was named for my wife, Donna.   She was thrilled to have this new little girl enter our family named for her. 

Marriott Rewards

I had a great big birthday cake.  It was a lemon chiffon angel food cake with icing shaped like daffodils.  It may not be what you'd imagined from someone who drives fast cars, but it’s really delicious, especially the ice cream.

A highlight this year was the surprise birthday card I received from Marriott Rewards Insiders.  Your warm and thoughtful messages are very much appreciated! 

As everyone sang happy birthday, I looked at all the faces and couldn’t help but think of my parents.  In 1927, when they drove from Utah to Washington, D.C., they never imagined what they had started.  Not only did they start a business – the Hot Shoppes restaurants – they started an amazing family.  

I’m not a reflective person.  I’m always looking ahead.  I’m also very impatient.  This is sort of becoming a curse, I guess.  But these days, I’m looking in the rearview mirror some more and I think I've done OK.  I’ve tried to hand down the lessons my parents taught me.  All four of our children started out working for Marriott when they were teenagers.  They learned to really work hard.  My dad taught all of us the value of work.  I hope it’s passed on to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.           

So what's ahead?  Much of the same except I no longer have to attend six-hour meetings.  I don’t play golf so I’m going to do many of the things I’ve always done like visiting hotels and working with our executives as Marriott continues to expand around the globe.  My wife, Donna, has told me many times that she “didn’t marry me for lunch.”  So, I’m going to be busy and active away from the house.    

I am an 80 year old who will still enjoy lunch at the office and I'll do my very best to keep this great company that has been my life’s vocation and avocation on the move. 

This is Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move. 

Listen to Blog Birthday Tribute

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Happy Birthday Bill! Great post here really capturing the fun of this event.

Dear Mr. Bill Marriott,

Happy Birthday! You're talent in my mind. Every time I lived in Marriott hotels, I felt special value and emotion of you and your hotels. They are totally differenct from other hotels I lived in.

Thank you, giving luxurious and sincere feeling when I was on my way. Although I'm just junior member of Marriott, but I will consider the Marriott as my only perferred in future.

Best Regards,

Hansen Huang
The Marriott member#341144004

Wish you happy birthday Mr. Marriott! And all the best!

Dear Mr. Bill Marriott,

Congratulations on your semi retirement and Happy Belated Birthday!!! Now you have the time to enjoy all your wonderful hotels.... I am currently a silver member and began staying at your wonderful hotels about 5 years ago. My uncle (who was an Archbishop and also enjoyed your hotels... he stayed often at the one in Somerset, NJ,) had a house in upstate New York which flooded. He was stationed in Chicago and then became ill with leukemia. Before he became ill, during his illness (which he asked that I come from LA and stay with him to take care of him while he was at the hospital for 3 months and 4 months after he passed away to take care of his affairs.) He had asked me to watch over the rebuilding of his house, this is where I first stayed at your hotel in Kingston, NY. Many horrible things happened and the most horrible people came around while my uncle was ill and after he passed. So things were really hard for me but every time I stayed at your hotel in Kingston (at least over 25 times now) the employees went above and beyond in hospitality and customer service whether it be just talking because they could see I was upset, making a cookie for me because I missed the cookie time, helping me out with certain things, etc. It was usually the late night desk clerk because that was when I came back from over seeing the rebuilding. But all your employees there were and are exceptional and caring people who really helped me through a difficult time, which I will always appreciate and remember. I've only had one bad experience but that was with house keeping when some of my things were taken. Regardless, whenever I am in Kingston I will only stay at the Courtyard Marriott there for it was almost like a home away from home.

I also stayed many times at the Courtyard Marriott and the Residence Inn in Somerset, NJ whenever I come to fix my uncles, my fathers, my grandparents and other relative’s graves for they are all there at the cemetery across the way. Again the employees here went beyond to help me with many different things since they knew why I was there. No matter what it was.

Recently, I have been staying at the Courtyard Marriott near the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, since my boyfriend lives in Turkey. This hotel is my hotel of choice when I am flying back to America (as long as I can afford it). The employees here are exceptional also especially one gentleman who went above and beyond to help me and an elderly couple that had asked me to accompany them around Istanbul for the day since they were not familiar with it and I was. This employee found the closing times of many of the attractions and wrote them all down for me, drew me a map for the tram routes, etc. Also, I have to say what a great breakfast, beautiful pool and sauna area and they also have the exact same beds and linens as in the states...Yea!! Which are very important to me. I have to say this because I have stayed at various other hotels (not a Marriott) over the years closer to the city center of Istanbul where the beds have an imprint where a huge body has left a dent... Pretty scary!!!.... So now whenever I first come to Istanbul or am leaving I will look forward to staying your Courtyard Marriott next to Ataturk airport... I am hoping to one day to get enough points to be able to stay at your JW Marriott in Antalya since this is much closer to where my boyfriend lives.... I've seen the pictures it looks fantastic....

Lastly, I had accumulated enough points quite recently to stay at your JW Marriott in Bucharest in Romania. Wow!!! Another great property across from the second largest building in the world, the stunning Parliament Palace... I took my sister and we were offered to upgrade to club level for an additional charge. Boy, was it worth it!!!!... The food in the club level was extraordinary (I loved everything) everything the chef created was a masterpiece, the service exceptional, the perks fantastic, the house keepers lovely, the doormen eager to help in so many ways....( Only problem my sister was a vegetarian so there were less choices for her but the employees did not hesitate to make something for her when I asked.) We did not even want to leave the hotel at all to see the sights. We did pull ourselves away to take one of the day tours the hotel offers which came in handy since we were only there for a few days. The concierge arranged a day tour for us to see Bran castle and Peles castle, two monasteries and other sights. We would have never been able to see all these if we had tried to do it ourselves. The tour was exceptional we had our own private Mercedes driver for a day. He showed us so many things and we were able to see things at our pace and see the things we wanted to see, like the island monastery where Vlad the Impaler is buried... (The only bad thing that happened was that the concierge had quoted me one price which was incorrect and then the driver said another price (because of the exchanging from dollars, lira and euro).... But she was lovely and took care of the problem right away..... Another thing I have to say because this is the only hotel that I have ever stayed at that actually sent me an e-mail after leaving stating that they had found several items we had left in the room and said that they would hold them for us... This quite impressed me because of the honestly of the house keeping staff. You do not find that everyday...... I can't wait to earn enough points to stay here again...

One last comment ...I think it is wonderful that some your properties are meticulously restored buildings which have so much character and exceptional architecture that you cannot find in the buildings designed today. I applaud you in conserving these masterpieces from another era. They are like stepping back in time, such detail and beauty. Quite like staying in a palace. While in San Diego visiting my Mother I recently saw your Courtyard Marriott in the downtown area what a beauty. I only stepped in, since I was staying with my Mom, to see the concierge but again the customer service was exceptional.

Hopefully, one day I will be able to see your properties in Mumbai, Dubai (Just because I like exotic) and Ukraine (where my family is from). With your points programs this is hopefully quite possible and once I find a job.

Thank you, Bill Marriott, so much for all your years, your hard work ethic, your exceptional values and the integrity that you have put into your hotels. I would be nice if all big business owners put so much pride and time into their business and customer hospitality... Your hotels really do stand above the rest! You now have another customer for life.

Mr. Marriott! Congrats on 80 years of life and 60 years with the Marriott family of hotels. I have been a loyal customer for over 25 years and as a matter of fact, am in Jackson, MS at the local Fairfield Inn tonight. You have a wonderful company. I have far more great service events than those that are not at par. I compliment your employees every chance I get when I see great service. I've stayed at all levels of your hotels, and the servies you offer are outstanding. Thank you for setting a great example. The very best to you and your wife of 57 years! What another great example!! May God continue to bless you and your family!


Happy Birthday, Mr. Marriott! I just started working for Marriott International today! Hope you had a great birthday and have amazing memories to reflect on forever and make many more to come!

Mr. Marriott,
I just caught the last part of your talk you gave in Salt Lake City on April 3, 2012 on BYU TV and was wondering if you would be able to post this for your employees at Marriott. I only caught the last of your explanation of what the O stood for and then the TT's and I would love to hear the whole talk of your name and I'm sure there are many of my fellow Associates who would also love to hear it. If it's not too much trouble. Thank you for all YOU do to keep Marriott moving forward :)

Thank you Mr Marriott,
Since the late 70's/early 80's you and most of the staff have help me in my business and made living on the road a little easier.
Michael Licata

I heard you quote W.C. Feilds who said, "If I knew that I'd live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." You have taken good care of yourself and I tell my 82-year-old dad that he should take pilates, too. HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Dear Mr Marriott,
Happy Birthday and Congratulations!
Our team wants to celebrate your 80 birthday...
With very warm regards,
Nefize Ozturk
HR Manager

I'm amazed about everything Marriott as a whole accomplished. Sometimes as a client, today as a student in my Executive Master in Hotel Management, in Universidade Católica Portuguesa, EGE, Porto, Portugal, trying to do right now a study about Marriott (in People Management class) and consulting the company website to get data and to evaluate the way you performe regarding people, internal and external clients and, specifically, careers at anyone's reach.

I've been a journalist for the past 30 years, since I left school (12º year) prefering to work instead going to university. Now unemployed, I'm trying to convert professionally to hotel management, 50 years old and 30 after I put studies aside.

Perhaps one day this year, when I finish the current programme, I'll respond to one of your job posts, in Portugal or abroad. As a client, sometimes in my football writer career that took me around the world covering the most importasnt "soccer" competitions under FIFA rules (including USA'94 WC), I stayed in a Marriott hotel. The image/brand, the service and care I used to know and meet then gave me the insight from the outside. Soon I'll be able to know, perhaps work, inside a Marriott hotel operation, getting much more information and experience during my studies to meet your expectations as a potential worker with Marriott.

And learning from your experience, sir, I join, accidentally, those who understand the progress and the status worlwide Marriott achieved under your guidance, a bit part of it I've to get to succed in my studies, wishing you the best for such a beautiful Eighties and the better surely to come of ages for the future of Marriott.

Yours sincerely

José Luís
Porto, Portugal

Dear Mr. Marriott,
Happy 80th Birthday! Thank you for sharing your celebrations and thoughts. As part of your 'Marriott family' I feel personally involved!
It is amazing how even while being part of such a large, international company I still feel like we know you so well and share the same values and ethics.
This is my 'zero' year with Marriott as in 10 years, and unlike the 'age' birthdays the 'annniversary' birthdays I look forward to eagerly.
When I go to work at my hotel, I feel like I am walking into another family unit. I have to thank the culture your mum and dad started and you have continued on. Thank you!
I wish you a happy retirement phase - though am inclined to add the famous Pepsi tagline: Retired-Nothing official about it : )
With warm regards, Sudipta

Dear Mr. Marriott: We are amazed that you have retired.We are planning to do the same within the next couple of years. As soon-to-be retirees, our dream is to do a road trip of North America, basically circumnavigating Canada and the US, and hopefully staying at Residence Inns, our favourite of the Marriott hotels, all along the way. I had what I think is a great idea for people like us. I wish Marriott would issue "books" of coupons for nights at Residence Inns. These would be sold for a set rate in books of 5-30 coupons valid at any Residence Inn in the US or Canada. Obviously there would be restrictions, such as reservations required 24 hours in advance, and if the reservation weren't kept then that coupon is void,expiry dates on the coupons etc. Not only would baby-boomers like us be thrilled to buy these coupons, but they would make great corporate promotions and rewards for employees, gifts for family and friends or even sales to travel packagers who could offer airfare, car rental and a book of hotel coupons as a package deal. Realistically speaking, the odds are that not everyone would use all of the coupons they purchased, which is a plus for Marriott as they would have been pre-paid. Just a thought, which I hope my favourite chain will enact before we embark on our tour. Hope you have a wonderful retirement, and congratulations on running a terrific organization. Yours sincerely, Susan McAlpine

While you have clearly received a tremendous amount of akkolades, you obviously can stand as an extremely proud son of the founder and that the world has witnessed your having lived up to your obligations and brought tremendous pride to the Marriott family name - no better job could a son do.

We wanted to be among the many who have followed you for many, many decades and respect every facet of the business by being guests, investors and MVCI owners inclusive of the new destinations program. You, your family and those seasoned, selected executives and all employees should forever take pride in the Marriott banner which stands for total quality. We are proud to be among those wishing the very best on this your 80th birthday and that you will continue to have the influence that has made Marriott among the finest organizations in the world. May you and your family be blessed. Our very warm regards.

So good to say happy birthday to YOU, You are happy man to have birthday, did you enjoy your big cake and big balloons?


Happy belated birthday Mr. Marriott! Some of my friends have started to retired, but I think I will follow your good example and continue to work! Because I continue to work, I travel for business and get to visit Marriott hotels - my home away from home.

Happy B-lated- 80 thats wonderful

hi Bill, thats a lovely cake and im sure it was equally delicious. i hope you read my birthday greating that i sent from ireland, we are still hoping that you will come and visit us soon and now we know which cake we want ;) so till then heres hoping you have a great time every day.

Happy Birthday and Congratulations!! Not everyone gets to build a well respected company their whole life. Attention to detail, innovation, and pride in service are a few reasons, besides a restful night sleep, Marriott is successful, respected, and sparkles in the morning light. Marriott's is a fountain of youth. That's your secret for staying young!

Happy Birthday!

happy birday, Mr . Marriott! I wish you the very best.

Dear Mr. MARRIOTT, Donna and family, for all you have done I wished the words THANK YOU were to be longer.
Thank you Mr. MARRIOTT


(Ex MVCI Master Sales Executive)

I think you have done more than okay Mr Marriott, you are a true American treasure! Hope we can say hello to you in Boston on your travels to the hotels. Many years back it was honor to assist your team with a round table for you with the business press. You recounted your first big assignment,the locating and building of the Marriott Newton. And that was just the beginning of your relationship with Boston and New England and for Marriott as a true economic partner. Our city and region is grateful and I send very best wishes to you for good health and happy travels!