Marriott History

The Marriott name took root in American business and history in 1927 when J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott opened their first A&W Root Beer stand in Washington, D.C. During the next three decades, the Marriotts grew their food service business to include a new in-flight service and several new eateries.

For the next fifty-eight years—until his death in 1985—J. Willard Marriott rarely rested. Whether adding locations, perfecting procedures or expanding into new enterprises, Marriott breathed, ate, and lived his company. Even when his oldest son, J. Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr., was named CEO and took over most major responsibilities, he could not bring himself to retire. A true hands-on manager, he thoroughly enjoyed visiting Marriott’s increasingly exotic locations, as well as spending time with the ever-growing ranks of associates who, in his mind, were the secret of his company’s success. “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers,” he constantly advised Marriott’s managers.

Today, Marriott International, Inc. is a leading worldwide hospitality company with nearly 2,800 operating units in the United States and 67 other countries and territories. In keeping with Marriott’s most cherished tradition of service, the JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand is, itself, a fresh take on luxury, providing detail-oriented personal and dependable service. From the luxury features you expect to the smallest details that delight, JW Marriott prides itself on providing those unexpected touches that elevate each guest’s stay.

As a member of the JW Marriott family, the JW Grand Rapids is dedicated to preserving the culture that the Marriotts founded several decades ago. A culture that recognizes our associates as our most precious assets and understands that how we serve our guests is a direct reflection of how much they are valued.

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