From humble beginnings...
Thursday 23rd May 2002 12:15
Bill Marriott, chairman of Marriott International in the USA, this week rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate the company's 75th anniversary.
Company lore records that it was 10.02am on 20 May 1927 when a man entered the newly opened A&W root-beer bar owned by John Willard Marriott and his wife, Alice, and ordered a mug of beer. When he put his nickel on the counter, Marriott pushed it back and said: "It's on the house. You're our first customer."
"Here's luck," the man replied, raising his mug.
Later that year further A&W root-beer stands opened in Washington DC, Baltimore and Richmond and food was introduced to the menu. The new restaurants, which specialised in Mexican food, were called Hot Shoppes.
More restaurants followed, and in 1937, while visiting a Hot Shoppe near Hoover Air Field (now the Pentagon), Marriott noticed customers asking for orders "to go".
This led him to introduce boxed lunches to the airport for Eastern, American and United airlines passengers. The company providing the airline food was called In-Flite, and it went on to become the world's largest airline catering business.
In 1953 Marriott took his holding company public, and all available shares were sold in just four hours. Four years later, in 1957, the company opened its first hotel, the 364-bedroom Twin Bridges Motor hotel, in Arlington, Virginia.
Marriott's son Bill, then 25, was put in charge of the company's hotel business when it was founded, and in 1965 he was named president of its Hot Shoppes division.
Two years later the company changed its name to Marriott Corporation, and by the end of the 1960s there were more than half-a-dozen Marriott restaurant chains.
Marriott junior was named chief executive officer of the company in 1972. After his father died, in 1984, the company sold off its original businesses of restaurants and airline catering.
Focus on hotels
With its focus on hotels, Marriott International bought the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the Renaissance Hotel Group in the mid-1990s and franchising became a key strategy.
Several chains, including Renaissance, TownePlace Suites, Marriott Executive Residences and ExecuStay, were bought or launched.
Today, the company has more than 2,400 hotels and resorts in more than 60 countries or territories.