As a hotel chain founded and headed by Mormons, you would think Marriott Hotels would be a bastion of heterosexual, family-friendly orthodoxy.
But not a bit of it. Whatever makes money is the guiding principle for CEO Bill Marriott, even if it means going against his Mormon beliefs:
“Our church is very much opposed to alcohol and we’re probably one of the biggest sales engines of liquor in the United States”, Bill Marriott told Business Week. “I don’t drink. We serve a lot of liquor. You’re in business. You’ve got to make money,” he said. “We have to appeal to the masses out there, no matter what their beliefs are.”
It took until 2011 until Marriott rid their rooms of on-demand pornography channels. The porn in Marriott’s rooms was an embarrassment for Mitt Romney when he ran for president of the United States in 2008. But the decision to take pay-for filth off the menu ended up not being one of morality or propriety, but money.
But perhaps the strangest move of all has been Marriott’s aligning of themselves as a ‘gay friendly’ establishment.
Photo via christianvoice.org.uk
It seems to have started when Marriott refused to donate to the campaign run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in favour of Proposition 8, the Californian measure to strike down ‘gay marriage’.
Diane Brady of Business Week says: ‘As a result, when his church actively campaigned against same-sex marriage in California, neither Marriott nor the hotel chain donated any money to the cause. Instead, he stepped into the drama by publicly reinforcing his company’s commitment to gay rights through domestic partners benefits and services aimed at gay couples’.
Then, in 2012, a Marriott hotel in Chicago hosted the “International Mr. Leather Competition,” a leather fetish pageant. Some effort apparently went into prising the event, and its estimated 16,000 participants, away from the Hyatt Towers venue down the street.
As SunTimes put it, ‘To understand International Mr. Leather better, consider the way Chicago DJ Ron Geronimo described to Gopride.com the scene at the gatherin’s 2011 Black and Blue Ball: “Hot and sweaty sex... meets the best cheesecake in the world... meets hairy muscle daddy groove... meets rawhide leather.”’
In 2012, Marriott started offering discounts to homosexual guests in the US, according to Blaze, and a similar deal appears to have crossed the pond, with ‘Pride Packages‘ on a special ‘gay-friendly’ Marriott page offering a ‘promotional code’ for the ‘Out and About’ product. Families with children need not apply.
‘Why is Bill Marriott so careful to separate faith and business when it comes to LGBT consumers? In a nutshell, $202 billion.
‘That’s how big the global LGBT travel market is predicted to be this year (2014 – ed), up from $181 billion in 2013, according to industry analysts Out Now Global—with LGBT spending comprising 13% of all global travel spending. That 11% rise is more than double (pdf) the increase in world travel spending overall, which is expected to rise 4% to 5% this year.
The number of US 18- to 34-year-olds self-identifying as LGBT has risen by more than 60% since 2007, and … gay men spend 11% more on “nonessential purchases” than their heterosexual counterparts.’
Whether it’s out of the need not to support the heresy of Mormonism, or of making it clear that ‘gay friendly’ is not good business, or just not enriching a greedy man with no principles, it seems like Marriott Hotels are a venue Christians need to avoid.