Monday, February 11, 2008

Hail Hilton, Whither Marriott

Over the last 2 years, I have stayed in a Hilton property in 6 different locations. I like the Hilton experience. They do the basics very well. Simple, Efficient, Modern, Consistent. The whole feel is chic, modern and functional without being cold and minimalistic (unlike some London boutique hotels where you struggle to find the electrical switch for everything). Their frequent stayers program is also one of the best and truly drives loyalty. On the other hand, Marriott has been disappointing. I stayed in a fairly pricey suite in the JW at Hong Kong for a week and it was like I was back in the 80s. It had a CRT TV with a big fat behind, the furniture and d├ęcor was frumpy, layout was unimaginative and service was generally poor (starting from the check-in). And all this in their flagship property in Hong Kong, a city known for its mall chic and efficient service. This was not a one-off. My experience as a long term resident at the Marriott residencies at Beijing was also fairly ordinary. In sharp contrast, the year long stay at the Hilton residencies in Colombo was a pleasure. Instead of starting a boutique chain with Ian Schrager Marriott would be well advised to fix their core product. All sizzle, no sausage !!