The original Marriott Hotel closed its doors forever this past weekend, falling victim to skyrocketing land prices in the Washington, D.C., area that made the hotel site much more valuable than the 31-year-old building.
J. Willard Marriott, the late Utah native and self-made millionaire, opened the Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Hotel in 1957 on a prime site across the 14th Street Bridge from Washington, D.C., and near the Pentagon and National Airport. At the time, it was the nation's largest motor hotel.Marriott had already made millions by that time in fast-food restaurants, such as the Hot Shoppes, by catering to the car-driving American public. He wanted a hotel chain that would do the same thing.
While the Twin Bridges became the basis for a hotel division that would make Marriott's name known throughout the world, it bore little resemblance to the expensive, full-service hotels into which the other 187 current Marriott hotels evolved.
The Twin Bridges was essentially a motel, with parking available outside most rooms. But it did have restaurants and a convention center.
While the Marriott Corp. has since generally built top-of-the-line, expensive hotels, the pendulum recently started swinging back somewhat toward the corporation's Twin Bridges beginnings as it started building its Courtyard hotels - which are designed to be more moderately priced and are aimed at business travelers who may not want all the costs of a full-service hotel.
J.W. Marriott Jr., the current president of the Marriott Corp., recently told the BYU Management Society in Washington, D.C., that the value of the land where Twin Bridges sat had skyrocketed, and the corporation could no longer afford to pass up high-priced offers for its sale. That was especially true considering Twin Bridges was outmoded and obsolete by Marriott standards.
Sunday was the last day it was open for business. Marriott said the corporation was able to find jobs elsewhere for virtually all the employees who worked at Twin Bridges.