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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Hello Mr. Marriott!!

Truly enjoy your posts! As a long time employee I have seen the changes of room styles throughout the years. I am technically a 'Millennial' however, I identify more with 'Gen Y's'. I feel pops of color are good with a neutral base. It offers a clean feel that is soothing to the eye.

No matter the country you com from or how old you are, color is part of life. It is what fills us with emotions and creativity. Without it we are just a white canvas with no art. But we must becarefull and not croos the line of indefernce with our guests needs. A touch of color might just be the disruptive diference in our guests expirience.

Dear Mr. Marriott,

Thanks for your focus on COLOR! and especially Red! It makes the world a better place. I agree with the research on Millennials enjoying the soothing neutrals color palate. Where I see the opportunity for color is as a POP! Rather than all around with dizzying prints. The best room style metaphor I ever heard was from a Room and Board associate. He told me a room is like a great suit - the big pieces (e.g. bed, couch, walls) represent the suit, normally a neutral tone (navy, black, charcoal, tan), medium pieces represent the belt and shoes in leather, and then the smallest items are the tie providing the pop of color - like pillows, throw, and lights. This has been an invaluable approach to design for me! Hope it helps.
Cheers, Diana Jeffery. Ritz-Carlton Quality

Dear Mr. Marriott,

I am 25, so I suppose that makes me a millenial. But I also love old movies and cursive handwriting(though I hear that is a thing of the past), and lots of colors(though blue is my favorite). So here is what I think: I believe a room should feel light and airy, but not without some life in it. And colors bring life. Whether that's red pillows or blue lamps, or a picture of yellow tulips. Doesn't matter as long as there is a little bit of color to bring a smile to your face or laughter to the soul. And millenials may be your target, but not every millenial is against color. In fact, I think most of the millenials I know make it a priority to have their rooms filled with color, just because it makes them smile and reminds them that they are home, and not everything in this world is drab and gray.

Thank you for allowing us to contribute our thoughts. I hope you find the inspiration you are looking for. I wish you a very happy and color-full day:)

Mr. Marriott, I would have to agree with Zach in a previous posting about being nervous when everything is being geared towards the millenials. So much of what they are about is really just a passing fad. I would certainly hate if all the time and effort is spend putting in fixtures and features in the rooms that they will no longer like in a year or two.

Marriott brands have always been strong because we have stayed true to our beliefs, fresh, exciting, clean and crisp. Some modern and exciting features, and certainly a splash of vibrant color to make things fresh and new but to go to drab gray rooms, no way.

Another vote for a pop of color. I don't want to drown in it but a throw pillow, bed scarf or art wouldn't kill anyone. Keep pushing... :)

I have to agree with you Mr. Marriott. Color is refreshing and makes you enjoy being there.

I am a millennial and I do like the dark hard wood floors and grey color scheme! I do not believe it should be 'colorless' i do think a pop of color here and there is perfect, just not overwhelming!
i do like the small work desk and small closet. The focus should be on the bed! Be sure it is extra fluffy! Throw pillows would be a great way to tie in the color. However, I am very picky on what is on the bed. Any sheets with color I do not feel are cleaned as well as white sheets. Therefore, I would probably not enjoy throw pillows as I would feel they have not been cleaned properly.
Even though I am a millennial, the very first thing I do when I go into a room, is unpack, if I am staying for two or more nights.

I'm with you all the way!!! I love the color red..it makes me feel alive, empowered & ready for anything! Sounds maybe a little dramatic, but then...I guess I am!

When entereing you room, it SHOULD pop with color..make you feel engaged, not bored! Comfortable beds, nice bathrooms and a large TV for entertainment - those are the things that guests want to experience! Closet? Wasted space. Large desk? Not so important, but they need adequate electrical plugs for phones, i-pads, computers.....

If we can offer our guests a pleasurable experience with our rooms, they will come back..and perhaps...PASS THE WORD!!!!

I think a pop of color together with the neutrals gives a message - one of excitement - happiness - comfort and sense of wellbeing. I vote for one color to coordinate against neutrals. Thank you for asking our view.

Dear Mr. Marriott,
I am a Platinum member; so I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. I believe life should be colorful and have always enjoyed the addition of color at your various properties. While I appreciate that some want more neutral, muted hues, such as gray, in the rooms, a splash of color is a must to give the space life. Ruby red would make a great accent color, and I like your philosophy that purple is almost red, as it would make a great accent color to gray as well. Cobalt or Cerulean blue would be other lively and welcoming options. I also like the suggestion of a prior commenter to add an option to view digital images on the TV screen - akin to a slide show of colorful, scenic images. I rarely watch the TV, but I would display that to liven the room. Thank you for asking.

Give us color!
Go for it!!!!!

I fall in the middle! I DO like the modern millenial style rooms but I would like a little color theme consistent throughout the room... red is always nice :)

I agree with you, Mr. Marriott. Rooms need a little color to bring life to the room. Otherwise, it feels too sterile and too much like a doctor's office.

Bill, I love your blog and your question here. After just spending some time with five Millenials (all working professionals in Denver, some who travel extensively) I noticed that for decor they each favor shades of grey to form a background for: pops of color. Some of the colorful items were handmade locally, each having an interesting background story. For example,colorful block prints made by local artists.

While I may be just over the age to be a Millennial. I do agree with the new grey or less color concept. It simply helps the room look clean and modern in my opinion. Plus I also love the hardwood floor look. Feels more clean and polished then carpet. Having said that adding a little color couldnt hurt either. :)

I'm a Millennial and I love color. All of my friends do as well. I don't think there is any truth to the rumor that we've changed so much as a people that this generation is less intensely moved by colors. Less desk space is great since we use tablets or smart phones to get work done and are very interested in floor space for a quick workout. Internet speeds being high are a must! Big, flat TV's are phenomenal. Comfortable and exceedingly clean bedding is foremost. A nice, light, bright and open bathroom with a good looking shower (preferably with glass walls) is something we all enjoy (baths are gross). But as for splashes of deep reds, blues and purples? Keep those coming along with an exquisite view. That tops off any stay, even a short one.

Thanks Mr. Marriott.

Dear Mr. Marriott:

I believe that color preferences or "styles" change over time. That's why it seems like a good idea to me to have a solid neutral base (black, white, gray, or earth tone) to the rooms, plus a splash of other brighter colors, like a nice red throw, as accent colors that can be changed out over time. I think it's great that you are so concerned about these details, and trying to understand the millenial mindset!

I couldn't agree more. I don't like dark rooms and I don't like dark, depressing drab colors. I can get used to the more monochromatic color schemes that are seemingly most popular now, but even they need a pop of color. Our hotels definitely need that pop of color. Nothing makes quite an impression, like walking into a new guestroom and being pleasantly surprised by the beautiful decor and bright colors. I have never heard of anyone complaining that our rooms were too bright! But I must qualify, I am not a millenial! I do get a bit concerned by the extreme position of catering to the millenials to the exclusion of other groups still actively staying at hotels.

I think like you Mr. Marriott. Rooms need a pop of color. Look at nature, it's full of color. Never surrender!

Hi! I'm a 50 year old white female and I agree! A little dab of color PLEASE! But...then again, I'm not a millennial...not even close. :(

Mr. Marriott
Outside of work I surround myself with color and maybe a little at work. I for one love color. With using discretion there is a time and place for everything and not every color scheme can be used in business. For rooms I believe anyroom should have a splash of color. Color brings life to everything and with the right amount it can make a huge difference. I disagree with the idea Millenials do not like color.What is important to them is simplicity. My decision is based off of the fashion industry and color is very big. Outside of my personal views I've traveled to Italy, Thailand, different islands and color is every where even in the most consertive areas from culture to religion. With color the important thing is just having the right amount. Just a little can go a long way. And I've found color can alter a person's mood. Which is what we do working in hotels - our goal is to alter their mood to keep them comfortable and happy.

Pro Color

Dear Mr. Marriott,

I'm a Generation X near Millennium and I don’t believe that our generation does not like color, we may do not like too colorful. A minimalist room in black, white and tons of gray give a modern and sophisticated look to the room that matches our taste for the future. Certainly accents and hints of color in the details can give personality to the decoration and lift the mood which I think we should have.

Thank you.

Good Morning Mr Marriott, as a 27 year employee of the company, I have seen many changes. I love the contemporay feel of the properties but I also like a "Splash" of color to make it Pop! I love the Courtyards new color schemes!

Hello Mr. Marriott. I agree with you, a little color is always nice and adds warmth to the space.