Where's the Color?

April 5, 2015

Test room

There’s a famous 1980s hamburger TV commercial where a little old lady opens the bun of a hamburger only to find a dime-sized paddy and says, “Where’s the beef?” I recently opened the door to our test room and asked, “Where’s the color?” 

It’s no secret. I like red. Each morning I have a difficult decision about which red tie to wear. My kids give me a hard time, so every now and then I wear purple – it’s almost red, isn’t it?

Young people today don’t like the same kind of guest room that I enjoyed. They like hardwood floors, a very small desk. We used to have two desks. Now, Millennials have computers and don’t need all that workspace. What they do want is a big TV. They don’t need closets as their stays are short and they rarely unpack and hang their clothes. They want great Internet access and a great pillow and mattress.

So, I’m caught between what today’s customer wants - and we want to give them everything they want - and a little color.  How about throw pillows or something that’s got some color to it? 

Marriott’s brands have grown up through the years with colorful rooms. I was in one of our new rooms the other night with dark gray floors, and dark gray drapes. It’s like going into a cave and it’s very dark. I’m told that Millennials don’t like color. I don’t really know.

So, I’m not surrendering. I’m pushing for a little color. I’m not making much progress, but I’m still pushing for it.  

I want to know what you think.  Do we want the “Prince of Darkness” or some color in our rooms?  I know it’s a loaded question. Please leave a comment. 

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move. 

The comments to this entry are closed.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I would like to see at least some color in the new gray / dark rooms. I recently stayed in a redesigned Marriott and was surprised at how very dark the hotel was. Dark hallways leading to dark very sparse rooms. Would really love to see some color somewhere and lighten it up at least in the hallways.

Hello mr. Bill Marriott,

Personally I am a Graphic Designer and Photographer. Im a Millenial, if we could say, (from 1982 hehe) and I love color. But I agree with you cause the other day at a mall I read on a T-shirt (a millennial one) "Black is the new colors", or something like that. I think color is an important thing in decoration; maybe millennials prefer sober/sad colors cause they have a lot of colors in their screens and websites already. So they/ we need to make a balance. Best regards.

Karla Laura

One of the thing I love about Marriott properties is the all white bedding with a splash of color on the pillow shams and bed scarfs.

This arrangement is not only refreshing and eye appealing yet ameliorates any concerns a guest may have about cleanliness and such. Marriott's are generally attractive and known for their high standards.

Add a splash of red if you want, (I am not a great fan of red-simply love blue and green.Red accents with another color on white is great.

I had the pleasure of meeting you while working at the New Orleans Canal Street location over 30 years ago. Yes you had a red tie.

I am with you. I refuse to give in to the dark, gray, cave like rooms. However the color is very popular at this time. I say...add a little color. I know you like red but how about some bright yellow. The Millennials like that combo and you have to go with what the comsumer wants. Go for it. Good luck!

You are exactly right, Bill! Color ... always COLOR!!
Listen to your gut .... tech/test market analysis gurus oftentimes lose the "human" emotional impact colors bring to the equation.
Save the blacks and grays for a funeral.

Delta Air Lines

Hi Mr. Marriot,

I am a hotelier and an avid fan of your blogs. Your journey is very inspiring not only for your associates, since it resonates from within.. Thanks a lot.

By the way, touches of LIFE colors are trending these days.

I recently celebrated 25 years with Marriott Hotels. I've been blessed with opportunities in my life including travel abroad and stays in some excellent hotels. No, I'm not a Millennial. I do like both monochromatic, clean, uncluttered, fresh, and rich, vintage, warm, and colorful. I think the important thing is to be true to the location. Although Portland Oregon is a cradle of hipster, eco-oriented, left-coastites, we would renounce a sleek, colorless room that didn't announce it's origin somehow. Wishing you continued blessings.

I agree with you whole heartedly, Mr. Marriott. Color sets the mood and I find all gray is dreary. My daughter is in her 30's and she does, however, love gray or white walls.

I personally love color, it makes me happy and hint of bright colors are absolutely necessary to weak up to. Modern and elegant can be done with colors as well!

Mr. Marriott, while too much color can be can be mentally exhausting a room that is too dark is depressing and quite honestly, claustrophobic. I work at an older full service property and our sleeping rooms are on the small side. If we choose a dark room package the room will appear even smaller and more confining. Our guests will push back in a negative way which will affect GSS.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to provide feedback.



I understand having a more neutral room, but I believe in color. I think that our guest rooms should have an identity that is remembered. Nothing extreme but accents that are memorable. We wouldn't build a hotel or restaurant and not give it a character all it's own, why a room?

Definately a small splash of color.

Hello, Mr Marriott,
As a new associate I have stayed in one of the prestige rooms here in Hanbury Manor, Thundrigde, England.
It was lovely, but I agree with Bill, a little bit of red would go a long way.

Mr. Marriott
Recently stayed at two different Marriott hotels that are currently undergoing renovation with the gray color scheme. One was located across from the beach. The room was so dark due to the gray color scheme - color accents would have been helpful almost necessary to compliment the beach experience.
Please bring back some color and lighten things up!

Mr. Marriott,

I think moderately toned neutral walls are the perfect palette. From there, you can easily make updates to the soft goods to keep up with the ever changing tastes in each new generation.
I don't like the walls of a room to be brightly colored because it automatically locks you into a certain mood. I would much rather see beautiful colors such as red and purlple as bursts of color in wall art, pillow and lamps etc. rather than on the walls. Thanks for asking us.

Best regards,

I'm a millennial and I prefer color for sure. It makes it feel more homey to me. So I vote yes on color.

Mr. Marriott,
I am a Millenial and I do enjoy color in my decor! My apartment is decorated in grey however I have quite a bit of yellow for my accent color. Too much color can look chaotic, but I think no color at all is a little too institutional for my taste.


Kyndell Valdez

I like some color. When I walk into a gray room like you describe above, the first thing I do is either turn on every light or open the drapes to let light and color in. So if you aren't going to have some color in the room, the room better have an awesome view.

The future is colourful.

Hi Mr Marriott,

Well, I'm a Baby Boomer and I prefer a little color - at least some accent color! And red would look great with gray! How about that?

Mr. Marriott,

I am part of the Millenial Generation and I would agree that most of my generation prefers a simpler color scheme with color used as an accent in small doses. Neutral grays give the room a cleaner and more streamlined appearance. Thanks for asking!

Mr. Marriott, I would say a little of both should make everyone happy.

Hello Mr. Marriott:)

I am a Night Auditor for Courtyard in West Dundee, IL. It's a suburb of Chicago. I personally think that the rooms being on the gray/darker side is modern but adding a little purple here and there would help the room look a little better/more inviting. I'm not sure about the red though. I think that color would be too "eye catching" when walking into a room. I hope this helps:) Take care!

-Mishalle Roza-Ingram

We have a brand new brightly colored Fairfield Inn and the colors are awesome. It cheers people up on a grey day!
I recently stayed at a remodeled courtyard and it was soo grey and drab, I just wanted to leave my room as soon as I got there.
Give us the color!!

Mr. Marriott, I believe color is important and since red is the basis of most colors, red is an excellent choice. I love your hotels (Natomas (Sacramento) Residence Inn is my favorite get away). I think a splash of color is invigorating!