The Washington Post

After 25 years at Marriott, a free room — and sometimes breakfast

Bethesda-based Marriott offers employees free hotel rooms after 25 years of service. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Company: Marriott International.

Location: Bethesda.

Number of employees: 13,300 locally. 129,000 worldwide.

Beth McGlasson and her family often head to local hotels for the weekend. They swim in indoor pools, eat continental breakfasts and return home on Sunday night.

“We use the pool for two days, and it feels like we’ve just been on a week-long vacation,” said McGlasson, who is a manager of public relations at Marriott.

But the best part? It’s all free.

McGlasson’s husband Dan has been working at Marriott International for more than 25 years, which qualifies him for complementary stays at any of the company’s 3,500 hotels on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the rest of his life.

Employees in the Quarter Century Club, as it’s called, also get free rooms at the company’s timeshare properties during the week.

“It’s very widely-used,” said Anjuman Nyman, vice president of benefits at Marriott. “This program is a reason a lot of our associates stay at the company once they’ve hit 20 or 21 years. Everyone looks forward to this.”

All employees, ranging from hourly staffers to company executives, qualify for the program after 25 years of employment. Nyman said she didn’t know how many people were currently eligible for free rooms, but that between 500 and 1,000 employees are invited to the Quarter Century Club every year.

“The great thing is that this keeps employees connected to Marriot, even after they’re retired,” Nyman said. “It keeps them connected to our business and allows them to see the world.”

The program has certain limitations: Employees may only stay at any given hotel once a year, and rooms generally have to be reserved about two weeks in advance.

Mike Talbert, a compensation analyst at Marriott, hit the 25-year mark in July. Since then, he and his wife have spent four weekends at nearby Springfield Suites and Renaissance hotels, two Marriott brands.

“It doesn’t get any better than having a free room for the weekend,” said Talbert.

“Well,” he added, “some of the hotels also have free breakfast. That’s like double-dipping right there.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.



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