I woke up like a child on Christmas this morning because today marks the 93rd anniversary of Marriott International. When I think back to how my newlywed parents, J.W. and Alice Marriott, started a small root beer stand in Washington, D.C., in 1927 – just three months before the start of the Great Depression – I am in awe. Our company has come such a long way from where we started. I know my parents would be astounded.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my parents, who both endured a different pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 1918. By the time the pandemic abated, my dad had made plans to serve a two-year volunteer mission on the east coast for his church. The rest is Marriott history. On a stop in Washington, D.C., he noticed a pushcart vendor who couldn’t keep up with tourists’ demands for ice cold lemonade in the intense heat. That inspired a vision: Washington was a great location to open a root beer stand.
After returning to Utah to earn his high school and college degrees, my dad would spend 58 years building up the company with a great partner, my mother. We went from a root beer stand to the Hot Shoppes restaurant chain to our first hotel in 1957 and beyond. We now have more than 7,400 hotels in 134 countries and territories. We have faced incredible challenges along the way, from economic downturns and wars to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
No matter how bad things got, though, my dad was pretty optimistic about the future. He was a great believer in five principles: put people first, pursue excellence, embrace change, act with integrity and serve our world. From the very early days, he was dedicated to exactingly high standards of cleanliness, which has served us well for 93 years.We continue to lean on these core values today as we face the greatest challenge the company has ever seen.
But one thing I think will never change is the human desire to socialise. People like to be with other people.
Bill Marriott’s message as Marriott turns 93 years old.
Although Marriott‘s acquisition of Starwood, especially its luxury brands, has been generating endless debates and controversies, Marriott’s contribution to the world of hospitality is unquestionable. It is not only most inspiring but it also shows that sophistication through simplicity, humbleness and passion remain the golden rules of any field, especially hospitality.
It was obvious that managing such a complex portfolio of brands would be challenging and it would take time. Beyond the most spectacular product, it is service that defines hospitality. On a recent stay at a JW Marriott Hotel, opened 20 years ago as a Marriott. It is one of those rare ‘brand upgrades’ the hotel firmly establishing itself from the day it opened among the top 3 luxury hotels of the destination.
Housed in majestic building, within steps from the world’s second largest building after the Pentagon, JW Marriott also followed a simple recipe – thanks to its size and building layout, the hotel created a luxury shopping arcade attracting most of the luxury international luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Valentino, Dolce&Gabbana etc.
Although not in the very centre, Marriott saw the potential of this Grand building to become a destination not only for foreign travellers and guests, but most importantly locals who would provide the ‘validation’ which is critical for any luxury hotel in any destination in the world.
From a Viennese Cafe to a steak house, the hotel also boasts the cities largest and most complex meeting facilities with a grand ballroom which has been a preferred choice whether it was for a lavish private event such as a wedding or a corporate event. The ‘destination’ would have been incomplete without the addition of an impressive indoor pool and wellness club, with the most wide variety of sports – all managed by specialist company World Class.
From breakfast to lunch or diner, to wellness and shopping, the JW Marriott was superbly conceived to reflect a luxury which was desirable but not pretentious or arrogant in any way. From day one, the hotel took advantage of the top quality local talent and forged a team which extended top quality service. I used to take for granted a genuine smile and an effortless question about my day, while I was having a simple coffee. It was the pride in the eyes of employees to work for Marriott that solidified the positioning of the property.
With the largest rooms and suites among any other international branded luxury hotel in the city, JW Marriott has been the choice of celebrities and VIPs from all walks of life, including Royal families. It was the place to be seen but also somehow, would also be able to extend ultimate privacy. The quality of the construction and finishes, with endless marble adorning most public spaces, instilling that feel of grandeur.
Despite many other hotels opening in the past two decades, JW Marriott has retained its leading position despite many recently challenges, most due to the economic context. Last year, the hotel underwent a superb renovation, maintaining a contemporary blend with a sleekness.
Utmost attention has been paid to comfort when conducting renovations – further improving details such as technology, bedding etc. I was surprised to interact with staff that told me they have been working for the property for 10 or even more years. Public spaces have also been revamped, making all spaces brighter with exceptional new lighting.
Oliver Petcu at the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel
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