Montgomery County Helps Ensure There is Room at the Inn
Montgomery County is a hub for hotel and hospitality companies
A musician rises at noon following a late-night gig in Chicago and finds a pre-ordered breakfast waiting outside the door of his hotel room. With the help of Montgomery County.
And a family stops at hotels across the country during a vacation trip to the Grand Canyon that creates memories for a lifetime. With the help of Montgomery County.
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No matter where you travel, there is a good chance that the hotel you stay in is overseen by a company based in Montgomery County. Several of the world’s most famous hotel brands have their headquarters in the area, including Marriott International, Ritz Carlton, Choice Hotels International and Host Hotels and Resorts.
“Montgomery County is definitely the hotel capital of the world,” says Jim Young, Marriott’s vice president of facilities management. “And not only do you have the hotels, you also have all these hospitality companies operating here. That’s because executives from Marriott or Host or Choice leave to start their own companies. Some don’t even have any hotels in Montgomery County, but they’re still headquartered here.”
There certainly are no indications that the hospitality industry is about to check out of Montgomery County. Instead, many companies are increasing their commitment to the area, aided by incentives from the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund and other entities.
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For example, Marriott – which has had a presence in Montgomery County since the 1950s – is building a $600 million headquarters campus in downtown Bethesda, thanks in part to a $60 million incentive package. The new facility will have 785,000 square feet of office space for the company’s 3,500-plus employees, along with a 244-room on-site hotel.
“We’re very excited about the new headquarters. We think it will be a jewel,” Young says. “It will be technologically advanced, and we’ll be in a vibrant neighborhood with restaurants and other conveniences within walking distance...Our roots are very deep in Montgomery County, and we plan to be here for quite some time.”
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Other companies obviously feel the same way. Choice Hotels recently built a 135,000 square foot, LEED-certified headquarters in Rockville, and Host Hotels & Resorts – the largest lodging real estate investment trust in the country – is moving into a new 55,000 square foot headquarters in Bethesda in 2019.
In addition, a growing number of companies that support the hotel and hospitality industry also have major operations in the region.
These include B.F. Saul (which operates conference centers and business-class hotels in airport, urban and suburban markets), facilities-management provider Sodexo, and hotel real estate trust companies RLJ Lodging, Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and LaSalle Hotel Properties.
Learning the Business
Many of the people who work for these hotel and hospitality companies received training in Montgomery County as well. A number of schools and programs in the region prepare students for careers in the industry.
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Montgomery College offers two associate degrees in Hospitality Management (Food and Beverage Management; and Management/Supervision) and three certificate programs (Hospitality Supervision and Leadership; Food and Beverage Management; and Meeting, Conference and Event Planning).
“We’re producing people who can manage and run hotels, restaurants and catering,” says Katherine Michaelian, dean of Montgomery College's hospitality management program. “Our students are coming out prepared to be leaders and managers in the field.”
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The surrounding hospitality industry supports these types of training programs. For example, the Marriott Foundation has donated nearly $2.3 million to Montgomery College over the years, helping to fund scholarships, internships, field trips and the creation of a commercial testing kitchen in the college’s Marriott Hospitality Center.
“Having all these industries headquartered in Montgomery County is a great synergy for the college, because our students get hands-on, first-class experiences,” Michaelian says. “We’ll bring in speakers from the hotels. We have faculty members who came from the hotels. So having hospitality partners like that right here in Montgomery County is terrific.”