What began as a Washington D.C.-based A&W Root Beer stand in 1927 eventually grew to be the Hot Shoppe Restaurants, and by the mid-1950s, a hotel business known as Marriott. The company–based in Maryland since 1955, proved to be an innovator early on–opening the world’s first motor hotel in 1957. Ever since, Marriott has continued to break the mold and strategically expand.
From the 1960s through 2011, the company continued launching new brands, including AC Hotels, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites; and acquiring existing brands including ExecuStay and Residence Inn.
Arne Sorenson, the company’s third CEO and first without the Marriott surname, took the reins in 2012. Under Sorenson’s leadership, Marriott’s innovation and growth-focused legacy is evolving.
“We like to be on top, for sure,” Sorenson told Hotel News Now in 2015. And on top Marriott is.
In 2016, the company finalized a $13.6 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, adding iconic brands such as St. Regis, Westin and Sheraton to Marriott’s offerings. The acquisition made Marriott the world’s largest hotel company, with more than 5,700 properties offering more than 1.1 million rooms across 30 brands in 110 countries.
The acquisition of Starwood allowed Marriott to offer an even more comprehensive portfolio and establish loyalty among consumers like never before.
“When one company can give a comprehensive portfolio of brands all over the world and offer rewards for each trip, that will create loyalty,” Sorenson told Hotel Management. “We knew this and had been expanding our portfolio, but this merger accelerated that goal in a significant and impactful way. Now, we can offer the right brand in the right place for every trip.”
In late 2016, on the heels of its Starwood acquisition, Marriott reaffirmed its commitment to being based in Maryland. The company announced a new state-of-the-art, $600-million facility in downtown Bethesda. The new complex will house more than 3,500 employees in approximately 700,000 square feet of leased office space starting in 2022.
“Our goal is to provide a cutting-edge workspace for our associates that offers state-of-the-art technology, modern amenities, and access to a range of transportation options," said Sorenson.
At the 2017 Maryland Business Summit, Sorenson spoke about the new headquarters, and Maryland’s role in helping the company retain talent as it continues to grow within the state.
“We are in a global, national and regional competition for talent, and talent is drawn by quality of life and quality of opportunity,” said Sorenson. “Building that infrastructure–building that quality of life–is something that enables us to compete much better for the talent that we need for our business.”
Despite a new headquarters and other successes, the biggest hotel brand in the world doesn’t self-congratulate and follows a “success is never final” mantra, said Sorenson in a 2017 interview with Reuters.
“There’s so much that we have yet to accomplish, and we’re not claiming victory,” said Sorenson.
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