This article was written by Phin Upham

The Marriot hotel chain began life as a humble root beer stand in Washington, D.C. John Willard Marriot and his wife opened the stand as a kind of oasis from the sweltering heat of the city. John had done some work as a Mormon missionary, and new full well how the heat could take its toll on someone.

They managed to parlay that small stand into a larger enterprise that included hotels and restaurants. Their first hotel was opened in Arlington, Virginia. It was called the Twin Bridges Marriot Motor Hotel, their second was also the Arlington-based Key Bridge Marriott.

In 1993, Marriott split into two different corporations. Host Marriot handles all US-based operations, owning 103 different properties within the United States. The other is Marriot International, which began 2002 with a series of spinoffs. It also had 49% of the shares of the Ritz-Carlton, which was a chain slowly failing during the 90s. Ultimately, Marriot would spend $331 million in an attempt at refurbishing and expanding the Ritz-Carlton brand.

The Ritz-Carlton purchase wasn’t a complete wash for Marriott. It was able to find reasonable profits in the timeshare market. Marriot also benefitted from the Ritz-Carlton system of booking and reservation. There are still Ritz-Carlton hotels to be found, roughly 81.

Marriot has some interesting qualities that date back to its founders. For instance, it adds a Mormon bible in addition to the Holy Bible. The company also offers no pornography as a part of its television lineup, a policy in place formally since 2011.

Marriot’s newest venture is a travel deal website called Vacations by Marriot.

Phin Upham

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website.