Skip Main Navigation

Our Story

At Marriott, we never stop searching for inventive ways to serve our customers, provide opportunities for our associates, and grow our business. The company that began as a nine-seat A&W root beer stand is recognized today as a top employer and for its superior business operations, which it conducts based on five core values: put people first, pursue excellence, embrace change, act with integrity, and serve our world.

The Early Years


It all began with an A&W root beer stand. Founder J. Willard Marriott and his wife, Alice, got their young business off the ground by quenching people’s thirst during Washington D.C.’s hot, muggy summers. Good food and good service at a fair price became a guiding principle for Hot Shoppes restaurants--and for Marriott International as it grew.



Newlyweds J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, along with business partner Hugh Colton, open the first A&W root beer franchise in Washington, D.C.

1927 Hot Shoppes


The Marriotts add hot food items to their menu--a first for A&W franchises--and the name "Hot Shoppes" is born.

1928 Hot Shoppes


The Marriotts open two more Hot Shoppes, including the East Coast's first drive-in restaurant.

1937 Hot Shoppes


"In-flight" airline catering debuts when Hot Shoppes begins delivery of boxed lunches to passengers at Hoover Airport, south of Washington, D.C.

1953 Hot Shoppes


Hot Shoppes, Inc. stock becomes public at $10.25/share and sells out in two hours of trading.

The Growth Years


Marriott made a historic shift into the hotel business in 1957. The world’s first motor hotel opened in Arlington, Virginia, under the management of J. Willard Marriott’s son, Bill. Over the next 25 years, Marriott became a diverse global enterprise, and Bill Marriott became a visionary CEO whose leadership transformed the hospitality industry.

Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Hotel 1957


Key Bridge Marriott opens. Two-year-old Debbie Marriott, Bill and Donna’s daughter, snips the ribbon.

Acapulco Marriott 1969


Marriott opens its first international hotel in Acapulco, Mexico.

Sun Line 1972


Marriott partners with Sun Line, becoming the first lodging company to enter the cruise business.

J.W. Marriott, Jr. 1972


J.W. Marriott, Jr. is named Chief Executive Officer of Marriott.

Courtyard by Marriott 1983


Marriott debuts lodging for business travelers with the first Courtyard hotel.

JW Marriott 1984


The first JW Marriott, named in honor of founder J. Willard Marriott, opens in downtown Washington, D.C.

J. Willard Marriott, Sr. 1985


J. Willard Marriott, Sr. passes away, and J.W. Marriott, Jr. is elected Chairman of the Board.

The Modern Years


One company, many brands--that's the innovative model that Marriott began building in the late 1980s. From pioneering the extended-stay business to launching distinctive brands geared toward the business traveler to increasing its presence overseas, Marriott International broke new ground in its quest to become the #1 hospitality company in the world.

1987 Fairfield Inn


With the opening of the first Fairfield Inn and Marriott Suites hotels, Marriott becomes the first lodging company to offer a portfolio of brands.

1987 Residence Inn


Marriott acquires Residence Inn and pioneers the extended-stay lodging business.

1988 500th Hotel Warsaw


Marriott opens its 500th hotel in Warsaw, Poland, the first western-managed hotel in Eastern Europe.

1995 The Ritz-Carlton


Marriott brings a historic brand into its portfolio when it acquires a 49% interest in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

1997 Renaissance


Marriott acquires Renaissance Hotel Group, doubling Marriott’s presence overseas.

1997 TownePlace Suites


Marriott launches TownePlace Suites.

1998 SpringHill Suites


Marriott launches SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

Execustay 1999


Marriott acquires ExecuStay corporate housing company.

Alice Marriott 2000


Marriott International co-founder Alice Sheets Marriott passes at the age of 92.

Bulgari 2004


The first Bulgari Hotels & Resorts property opens in Milan, Italy.

2008 Edition Hotels


Bill Marriott and Ian Schrager officially announce the EDITION brand.

2009 Autograph Collection


Marriott launches Autograph Collection, a new brand of upscale and luxury independent hotels.

2011 AC Hotels


AC Hotels by Marriott brand formally launches.

Looking Ahead

2012 & Beyond

Today we are on a mission to shape the future of travel through technology and innovation. From mobile check-in and lobby Greatrooms to transforming the meeting experience with our Red Coat Direct app, we are making travel more brilliant for our guests. Use the circles below to explore milestones in this era.

Arne Sorensen 2012


Arne Sorensen becomes President and CEO of Marriott International.

2012 Gaylord Hotels


Marriott acquires Gaylord Hotels Brand adding five hotels and approximately 2 million square feet of meeting and event space.



Marriott debuts MOXY HOTELS – The new brand is the company’s first entry into the economy tier, three-star hospitality segment in Europe.

2013 AC Hotels


Design-focused AC Hotels by Marriott brand is imported into the Americas.

2014 Protea Hotels


Marriott nearly doubles distribution in Africa to more than 23,000 rooms with its acquisition of Protea Hotels’ Brands.

2015 Delta Hotels and Resorts


2015: Marriott International acquires Delta Hotels and Resorts®; Becomes the Largest Full-Service Hotelier in Canada.

Classic Photos

J. Willard and Alice Sheets Marriott
J. Willard and Alice Sheets Marriott

Early 1930s

1950 J. Williard and Alice Marriott
J. Willard & Alice Marriott


John, Stephen & Debbie Marriott
John, Stephen & Debbie Marriott


Clockwise, J. Willard, Alice, richard, Duke & Bill
Family photo in car

Clockwise, J. Willard, Alice, Richard, Duke & Bill 1945

1954 Bill and Donna
Bill and fiancée Donna Garff at Fairfield Farm


Marriott Family, ca. 1973
Marriott Family, ca. 1973

Left to right: Bill, Debbie, John, Alice, J. Willard, Richard, Stephen, Donna, David, Karen, Sandy, Nancy, Mary Alice & Julieanne

1948 Hot Shoppes
Bethesda Hot Shoppe

J.W. Marriott, Jr. at the Bethesda, Maryland Hot Shoppe

1954 Jaguar
Ensign J.W. Marriott, Jr. with his Jaguar XK-120


J. Willard & Alice Sheets Marriott at Fairfield Farm
J. Willard & Alice Sheets Marriott at Fairfield Farm

ca. 1978

About Marriott