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. 

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As a Millennial myself, I perfer some color. Colorful drapes or bedspread would really grab my attention. How about an accent wall? Where one wall is painted a different color. Maybe behind the beds. Throw pillows, however, just get thrown on the floor usually. They are kind of a waste of space, in my opinion.

I think color would be a great idea. Color will bring some life into the room. With the color it would make the guest happy.

Greetings Mr. Marriott

I love all shades and tints of colors. However when it is time to get rest I like it dark. So my suggestion would be add the pop of color whether it be ruby red, tangerine orange, royal blue, or emerald green. Color is good but please make sure that when the lights go out for bedtime it is pitch dark(maybe a small LED nightlight outlet in the bathroom for those who are traveling with children or the late night run to the throne room)

Best Regards
Ebony Johnson

I think you always need a little color spalsh...color makes everyone happy...and if red is Mr. Marriott's favorite color and the color of our signature brand, then red it shall be. I'm just glad we don't have 4 floral patterns in every room in our hotels anymore! Keep some color!

I like color, just not overdone; That is why accent walls have been so popular in years past. The entire room and everything in it does not have to be bright red or orange. Muted, subtle shades, with pops of color in an accent all and decor will do the trick.

High speed internet is a MUST despite the room type. For a biz hotel, room can be in simple color and for casual and vacation ones more colors might be attractive. Purely personal preference.

Greetings Mr. Marriott,

I do understand and find it incredibly interesting how tastes and preferences vary among the different Generations from what colors to use as to the shapes and sizes each room must provide for their utmost comfort. I do believe however, that it goes more in hand with what the brand envisions than what the guest's generation is from (of course there are exceptions) but when guests of all ages think about the brand they are thinking about the representation that brand provides and something that this new Generation Y and even Millenials entering the Market show their need to share their experiences and status with their peers.
So when thinking about whether or not there is an absence of color simply goes hand in hand with what the brand is providing. Guests that want to be seen as elegant and dignified would rather have the minimalist approach of different black tones as the J.W. Marriott provides. If the guest would rather have a more explosive and colorful environment they would head to a Residence Inn, where their fun and active personality reflects the warmth and care they provide with their red-wine like color the brand holds.
At least that is my perception and I must say that although some color might provide a warmer environment it should maintain the elegance and class Marriott has always provided me.

Best regards,

Steffan Beck

I believe a splash of color is extremely important in creating a feel or mood for a guest room. It is another small opportunity to showcase a brand and what that brand stands for. As a millennial I respect simplicity but I crave color to warm up a space.

I don't believe the 'lack of color trend' is necessarily catering to Millennials, as minimalism has been a growing design trend for the past decade, and long before Millennials were old enough to be booking their own hotel rooms. I think the change desired in the design of rooms is not so much in removing the color, but in no longer using garish patterns, especially on soft goods (this trend is #9 noted on this list: http://freshome.com/2013/08/20/the-11-fastest-growing-trends-in-hotel-interior-design/). A clean and sophisticated look throughout the room makes it feel more upscale, even in modern essential brands. My favorite hotel rooms (speaking as a Millennial, and an employee) to stay in have dark hard wood floors and muted colors (white, black, grey) used as the main color scheme with 'pops' of color on a sofa/chair, pillows, accent wall, or local art as focal points.

I absolutely believe color is important to creating the desired atmosphere for hotel rooms. For example, I adore the light blues and greens of the SpringHill Suites brand. It makes me feel happy and relaxed.

The monochromatic look may be sleek, modern, and objectively attractive, but it also doesn't inspire emotion the way color does. Definitely keep adding splashes of color! It will keep Marriott hotel rooms unique and pleasant, not generic and lifeless.

I agree with you Mr. Marriott. I work at a full service hotel, the Phoenix Marriott Mesa, and 16 years ago I worked for the Courtyard by Marriott in Buena Park California.

I like the color red however I must say that I am a young baby boomer, not sure if that qualifies me to give an opinion.

The Phoenix Marriott Mesa has some color in the lobby, however the rooms while nice clean and neat are a little boring with natural neutral color. While at the Courtyard 16 years ago the color green was the brand standard. Recently I visited a Courtyard by Marriott in Chandler, Arizona. I absolutely love the color and the style, it was retro style with a bold orange, brown,off white a little green, and splashes of red and blue. It was very warm and inviting, not to mention the thing that drew me into the lobby space was a wall of windows looking out to the beautiful scenic open desert valley surrounded by the beautiful South Mountain.

I love the the gray room idea, but to balance it out, there should definitely be some pops of color! :)

An interesting read Mr. Marriott! As a person in my 30s, and someone who has stayed young at heart working in hospitality, I like things simple and clean. I am not against colour, in the right settings it can be a wonderful addition to any decor. Where I am hesitant in hotels is to see colour on items that can't easily be replaced. Likes and tastes change so fast now, that one wrong decision for a vibrant sofa can lead to years worth of "dated decor" comments.
Take care!

Hello Mr. Marriott!

First of all, I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog. Your witty and classic sense of humor is refreshing for someone who is in fact a Millennial. To be honest, the modern look of the show rooms is very clean and appealing to the eye. However, I am a firm believer in the psychology of color and what effects it has on our mood. That being said, I believe in order to maintain a comfortable place to relax and work there should be at least a little splash of something in the rooms. Instead of being one side or the other, how about the best of both worlds? You could combine the modern look with just a bit of refreshing color. That way you can, to a certain extent, appeal to all different kinds of guests.

Calling it "Prince of Darkness" kind of makes me want an actual dungeon-themed room. It would be a pretty cool place to stay around Halloween. Though it has to still comfortable, of course.

Hello Bill! I think your interior decorators at Marriott need to do some more in-depth market research, especially segmentation research. They will find, I believe, that color resonates with your guests, including a majority of the Millenials!

Being the longest wavelength, red is a powerful color. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. This said, Mr. Marriott, why the change from the Marriott red to a monochromatic palette? No, I am not referring to the interiors, Mr. Marriott. I am looking at the revised Courtyard Marriott signage guidelines: dark grey background with white letters. And I have a question, Mr. Marriott: how will the sign grab my attention, while I am driving down U. S. Route 90 at 70 MPH?
I feel good about monochromatic rooms, Mr. Marriott. Regardless of the generation, and style preferences, the guest is already in the room. Marriott has captured their attention. And as long as the bed is comfortable, the Wi-Fi is fast, and the shower is hot, they will have a very positive experience, and will be coming back …

Thank you.

How kind of you to ask. Give me some color. I agree, I don't care for the mono-colored rooms. Keep on pushing.

Without colours the life becomes dull, and the bright colours like RED bring life in the environment......keep up making the life colourful.....there are many, many, more who share your thoughts....Best wishes...Vijay....an EX employee of MVCI at Kuwait...during nineties.... I am still following you....

Without colours the life becomes dull, and the bright colours like RED bring life in the environment......keep up making the life colourful.....there are many, many, more who share your thoughts....Best wishes...Vijay....an EX employee of MVCI at Kuwait...during nineties.... I am still following you....

Definately a little colour makes a room more vibrant and Welcoming! I love the Purple Hues in the Delta Quebec Room! My Favorite color actually! Oh,and YES on the "BIG TV"!

Kind Regards,


I'm not a millenial, I'm a baby boomer. I have to agree that while neutral is the trend, a splash of color adds character to the room!

Good Morning, Mr. Marriott!

There's a wonderful scene in the movie, "Steel Magnolias," when we hear one of the main characters say, "red is my signature color." All I can say is, "that's how I roll!" :) I'm a Generation X, MTV music video generation woman and of course I want color in our rooms! I'm totally with you! I don't need a red room-though I did give in and paint my last bedroom in NYC a vibrant pink-but color is lovely! I live in the caribbean, so how could I want anything else? You should definitely add a splash of red, fuschia or yellow to those beige and taupe, color-schemed rooms! And grey?!? As a room color?!? I'd cry! (I remember those Wendy's commercials by the way-they were hysterical! Her indignation was so genuine!) I hope that helps! Have a great day!


Patricia Harris

I'm with you, Mr. Marriott! I think a little color adds vitality to our guest rooms. Bright throw pillows would do the trick!

i like colorful things, only grey, black or white makes people depressing, but bright color means positive,dynamic and fashion.
old brand give off new energy.