What is your favorite hotel in the world?
“Nice try,” Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International, answered. “I have four children and I won’t tell you which one of them is my favorite either.”
Sorenson, who was in Chicago for the grand opening of the 33-story, 1,205-room Marriott Marquis, said a number of factors provoke people to feel affection for a hotel.
“So much of the travel experience for people is about the purpose of their trip and what they’re doing there. Often people love the hotel where they’ve had the most memorable trip. Why? Maybe they were with a spouse. Maybe they were celebrating a special event in their lives. To some extent it’s about the hotel but it’s really about that experience,” he said.
Sorenson did relent to mention a Ritz Carlton the company built in Hong Kong.
“The lobby is onVisit Site the 98thfloor and the rooms go up from there. There is an outdoor bar on the 120thfloor. It is one of the world’s most impressive hotels. Hong Kong is also an extraordinary city. But whether you love Hong Kong might tell you whether you love that hotel,” Sorenson theorized. “I love Paris. It’s a city you could walk in all day long and see beautiful architecture. You can stop for coffee in the morning and stop for wine or beer in the afternoon. In a sense the hotels are all better there because I love Paris.”
Sorenson equates Chicago among great world cities.
“I mentioned at the ribbon cutting that Marriott Marquis Chicago is our 141st hotel in the city of Chicago. That tells you how much we love Chicago. It has all the hurly burly of a big city with architecture and great music and food, but Chicago also extends an authentic, genuine welcome. Chicagoans love to see people come in from around the world.”
Sorenson personally spends 200 nights a year in hotel rooms.
“But I love traveling and the hotel business. I love seeing the people. I love the design. It’s a never ending, interesting job,” he said.
The grand opening included a private concert by Chicago-native Jennifer Hudson, the singing sensation who, after finishing seventh on TV’s “American Idol,” went on to win the Academy Award for her performance in “Dreamgirls.” On stage at the Marriott Marquis, Hudson sang the song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” for which she received acclaim in the movie.
“I don’t get home here that often but sometimes I get to sing my way home,” said Hudson from the stage. She currently serves as a judge and coach on “The Voice” television show.
“Jennifer Hudson is ‘Ms. Chicago,’ said Sorenson. “It’s not every day a hotel is going to have someone like her show up and sing, but we do want our hotels to offer a decidedly local feel and experience to them.”
To invite the city in, the Marriott Marquis rooms features artwork depicting various Chicago bridges and locations. Artwork by 30 Chicago-based fill the corridors and lobby, each with a video-enabled QR code so guests can conduct their own tours with their smart phones. The hotel is connected to McComick Place, Chicago’s massive convention center.
Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at MShiels@aol.com His radio program may be heard via MiBigShow.com His latest book is “I Call Him Mr. President – Stories of Fishing, Golf and Life with my Friend George H.W. Bush”