BETHESDA, MD—The Marriott hotel chain, which includes not only Courtyard by Marriott but also Renaissance Hotels, Fairfield Inns & Suites, Residence Inns, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites and even a Ritz-Carlton or two—3,718 hotels in 73 countries, all told—is $2.2 billion in debt... but that won't stop 80-year-old retiring CEO Bill Marriott from ditching one of the hotels' most profitable services: In-room pay-per-view porn.
"I've always been concerned about [pornographic] movies in rooms. In the next three or four years, we won't have any more of those," Marriott told an interviewer from the Associated Press. "That's something we've had a real problem with because the Church is very, very opposed to pornography, as it should be, and we are for families. But the owners of our hotels were making a lot of money. In fact, the only movies that make any money are pornography."
"The Church," of course, is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons, and Bill's dad, John Willard Marriott, was so deeply involved in church politics that fellow Mormon George Romney named one of his children after the magnate. You may have heard of him: Willard "Mitt" Romney?
And why did the younger Marriott, who after retirement from running the company will remain on its board of directors with a 10 percent equity stake, decide to abandon the pay-per-porn money machine, which according to one hotel insider accounts for 80 to 90 percent of all in-room movie purchases?
"It was the right thing to do. The other side of it is if they want that stuff, they can get on the computer. So, the demand for them has gone way down. It was a good time to exit."
Oh; "It was the right thing to do, but people aren't buying as much of as they used to because they're using their internet connections to watch it online, so what's the down-side of appearing to be devoutly anti-porn"?
And as Tom Hymes earlier noted, "This is why neither Marriott nor any major chain will seriously consider restricting internet access in the rooms; it would be a kiss of death with customers. Instead, they will guarantee that in-room access to the internet is not only easy but also fast and cheap."
But then, how does he explain the glass walls he'll be installing in the bathrooms?
"Bathrooms are going to open more into the rooms because people want light," Marriott predicted in the same interview. "We're thinking of a glass wall. You could flip a switch and the glass becomes opaque; flip the switch it goes clear. We're going to full floor-to-ceiling windows wherever we can so when you pull the curtains back, you just don't look through a small window. You'll see the whole world."
And with any luck, the whole world will see you!