Marriott International acquired Starwood Hotels and Resorts two years ago, and their loyalty programs merged this month. But another change is also coming to all Westin, Sheraton, and other Starwood hotels later this year: Every room will include both a Bible and a Book of Mormon.
Marriott’s owners are active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and their hotels famously put a Book of Mormon in all nightstands along with the Bible. Now that the chain has taken over Starwood, the Holy Book Rule is part of the contract.
… [Marriott] stands out from the other companies by requiring — in franchise or licensing agreements — its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room.
It’s not a policy Marriott relishes discussing. The company declined to make an executive available to comment, but issued a statement to The Associated Press: “There are many guests who are not digitally connected who appreciate having one or both of these books available. It’s a tradition appreciated by many, objected to by few.”
That “few” is growing, though. In some cases, providing holy books in rooms is seen as a liability, as if the hotels are endorsing what’s inside them. In addition, given the changing demographics in the country, with an ever-growing percentage of the population professing no religious beliefs at all, the trend in the hospitality industry has been to move away from offering holy books in rooms.
That included Marriott International, by the way, which declined to forced the Holy Book Rule in its newer “millennial-oriented” Moxy and Edition hotels.
But even though fewer than half of all hotels (48%) no longer offer holy books by default, Marriott has decided this is what their guests want.
There’s a much better alternative they ought to consider. Hotels can always keep the Bible and other religious texts behind the check-in counter instead of in the rooms themselves. That way, anyone who wants one can simply request it. But because that kind of neutrality would surely be perceived as anti-Christian persecution by conservatives who expect special treatment, don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)