The Haiti Principle

March 10, 2015

Haiti opening ceremony

My daughter, Debbie Marriott Harrison, recently returned from the ceremonial opening of the Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel in Haiti. Debbie is our company’s global officer for Marriott culture and business councils.  She was so moved by her trip that I thought it best for her to share it on my blog.  - Bill


Lucardo in line

Last week my husband and I checked into the brand new 175-room Haiti hotel where we were greeted by Lucardo, the front desk clerk. He had a beautiful smile and was so friendly, the perfect person to greet guests.  He  carried our bags up to the room and it wasn’t until Lucardo set down the bags and turned around that we noticed he only had one arm. We found out later that he had lost his limb in an accident when he was 6 years old. His parents couldn’t take care of him, so he was raised in an orphanage.  I asked Lucardo how he liked working at the hotel. He teared up and said, “This is more than a family to me.”

Providing opportunities and “putting people first” are at the top of Marriott International’s core values that were handed down from my grandfather to my father to our associates like general manager Peter Antinoph.  Peter and his team held many job fairs. They also purposefully went to orphanages, churches and refugee camps to find people who would make good hotel workers – some of Haiti’s best and brightest. (Eventually 232 people will work at the hotel.) We like to hire friendly and train technical.

Each Haitian associate had his or her own story.  Some bore the physical scars of being buried in rubble from the 2010 earthquake.  Some just completed school and were eager to land their first job.   

Haiti associatesPeter and Team

Peter was so proud that he told me this was his most inspiring staff.  People everywhere value a job, an income and health insurance.  Even more, this Port-au-Prince staff is committed to their country and its future.

When the 2010 earthquake hit, almost 300,000 people lost their lives. My parents were staying at the Harbor Beach Marriott in Florida at the time. Most of the staff at the hotel came from Haiti and they were grieving, but they were determined to help rebuild. My parents first established a relief fund. Then my dad, working with his Marriott team, had a great idea: Let’s put a hotel in Haiti, an investment in the people, the economy and the country. 

Helping a nation rebuild starts with creating opportunities  -- one person, or five or ten or 232 at a time. By providing jobs, hotels can play a vital role in helping people build a life for themselves, their families and their communities.  In this case, I call this multiplier effect “The Haiti Principle.” 

As I was leaving, I looked back at the lobby and saw our culture in action, taking root. Our new associates like Lucardo were eager to learn new skills, happy to engage with guests and optimistic for the future.  That’s how change takes hold, one person at a time and Marriott is  proud to be a part of it.

I urge everyone to visit Haiti, meet our new team and see “The Haiti Principle” in action.   

I’m Debbie Marriott Harrison, and thanks for helping us keep Marriott on the move. 


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I am just so excited reading this article. Wow this is a well planned investment that will certainty grow as the years go by. I greatly appreciate the Marriott and Team for opening doors for the people of Haiti. Marriott has given jobs to 232 and has given visitors an opportunity to see so many great things about this country. More visitors/tourists means more money towards Haiti means more businesses meaning more money in everyone pockets. Its great when globalization happens to improve that particular country rather then taking its resources and goods. Thank you Marriott for your visions coming to life once again and thank you Debbie Marriott Harrison for your dedication.

- Melissa Dommercant


Visited Haiti last month, beautiful hotel and the staff were very eager to please their guests/customers.

As a Marine I had several occations to visit Haiti and never under conditions you might call perfect.
First in 1994 and then in 2010.
I can only agree with Ms. Harrison observations. The country might be poor but is is among the richest nations in the world when it comes to the spiritn of their people.
I too will make a point to visit Haiti once more, but this time as a Marriott associate and a guest.

Martin Mayer
(Capt. USMC)

This kind of story is one of the several reasons, I am proud to be a Marriott associate. Marriott is more than a job, is a great and big family around the world!!!! Lord bless you Debbie.

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with us, Debbie. I am inspired.

My heart palpitated with Joy in reading your story. Thank you and your Dad for having the vision to facilitate the opening of the hotel in Haiti, something that is greatly needed. I've been raving about this Hotel since I first heard about it and seeing come to fruition is a great day, and a very happy one for me. I've lived in Haiti and know that the work ethic of the Haitian people is unsurpassed. Thank again I love the Marriott.

After reading this blog, I am more blessed to be working with a company that really do care about its employees. Thank you

This is just a wonderful story and reinforces how proud I am to be a Marriott associate. Thank you for sharing it. Welcome to all the new associates at Port-au-Prince! You are now members of an international family with some of the best people in the world!

My wife, Lisa, is an associate and forwarded me this blog post. In 2010, I was part of the 82nd Airborne Division's response to the devastating earthquake in Port au Prince. I'll never forget my time in Haiti, nor the indemnable spirit of the Hatian people in the aftermath of such a tragedy. While the needs in the country are immense, it warms my heart to see even small efforts such as this as I know firsthand just how transforming they can be. Many came and left in the aftermath of the disaster, but Marriott has chosen to make an enduring invest in Haiti's future. I hope to return again one day to Port au Prince; to see the people and the progress they have made. After reading this blog, most assuredly a stay at the hotel will be in order.

LTC Kelly Webster
U.S. Army

Truly an inspiring story of just how much Marriot truly cares about all people.Thank-you for sharing this beautiful story!

Very motivational and inspiring. I love Marriott is a great place to work.
I welcome Haiti and Thank you.

Awesome story! Always go for the friendly hire - training the technical side only takes our time and patience which equals our greatest success!


I was blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of this amazing project. The feeling you get as you walk into the hotel is indescribable. Such a positive energy, smiles everywhere and welcoming attitude from each and every associate makes you just feel at home. Thank you for the opportunity!

This is an uplifting story. Haiti is a country that has suffered for a long time, and Marriott is helping heal the wounds, providing work, and a bright future for the resilient and strong people of that country.

Good day Debbie & Ron,

Thank you for sharing this beautiful and inspirational account of your trip to Haiti. Because if this, I look forwawrd to visiting the property someday soon.

All the best,
Susan McCool
EA @ JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa

Thank you again for such an inspiring post. You are so blessed to have a wonderful career with the ability to travel and be touched by so many wonderful cultures. Everywhere you go, I feel like I'm there! Thank you Mr. Marriott for being a huge part of the future!!

What an amazing story and exemplifies the Marriott culture. I feel privileged to having the opportunity to hearing you speak at the Servant Leadership Conference this week. Thank you! I have always been a "Marriott Groupie". This story, your presentation on culture of success, and my personal experience at Marriott hotels throughout this country and the world has solidify my loyalty!

Thank you Debbie for your description of the new hotel in Haiti. It brought back memories from mid 1960's when I painted in Haiti and there were only a few older hotels. It is wonderful Marriott helps so much everywhere. I look forward to Burundi/Rwanda return when sponsored, and seeing the change there for the better. Haiti is like Africa in some ways and I can imagine the kind progress being made by those like you who care.

I had the privelege of been a task force for the Hotel opening and all the associates in Haiti are amazing. I spent two wonderful weeks and I will never forget them, their kindness and love is compared to none.