Florence, Ala. (June, 2015) – More things have turned around in the Muscle Shoals area than just the floor of 360 Grille at the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa. Since opening on June 17, 2005, the Marriott Shoals has proven to be a magnet for tourism and an economic engine for the area. The Marriott celebrated the milestone with a media conference followed by an associate rally where the hotel staff spelled out a giant 10 for a family portrait.
“Since opening in 2005, we have consistently been one of the top Marriott hotels in North America for guest satisfaction and I credit this to the commitment of the Retirement Systems of Alabama to our hotel and to the caring attitude of our 232 associates,” said Larry Bower, general manager. “With our emphasis on hiring locally and being a valued part of the community, we have paid $40 million in wages to our associates from the Shoals area and have spent $665,000 booking local Shoals musicians. The attitude of our associates and the musical talent in this area is second to none.”
Prior to opening, the existing Renaissance tower and conference center were greatly underutilized. “Not only does the tower floor rotate now, but our 360 Grille has maintained a Four Diamond Award ranking and is a culinary destination to itself,” said Bowser. Partnered with the music-themed Swamper’s Bar & Grill and the convention center, the Marriott Shoals has served 1.8 million meals.
“As soon as the hotel opened, the Florence area became a major destination for tourists and conventions,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department. “Visitor expenditures in Lauderdale County have grown by 230 percent in the last decade, more than double the statewide average growth,” said Sentell. “I’m not aware of any other hotel built in the state in the last decade that has generated such a dramatic increase in visitor expenditures. Many associations were rotating among four or five other cities for their annual conference. Because of the addition of the Shoals Marriott, Florence now attracts many of the mid-sized conferences in the state.”
From musical superstars to corporate meetings to international visitors to locals looking for a quick getaway, the Marriott Shoals has a diverse group of hotel guests. “Our guests consistently rave about several key areas: the friendliness of our associates, the beauty of our area plus the quality of our golf, pool, food, lodging and spa,” said Bowser.
“The Marriott Shoals Hotel, along with the Robert Trent Jones golf courses, immediately changed the Shoals market forever,” said Steve Holt, president of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. “The Marriott Shoals made it possible to recruit and attract much larger conventions, seminars and meetings, putting us into an entirely new arena in the hospitality industry,” said Holt. “Today the leisure and hospitality industry employs nearly 1,000 more people than 10 years ago and the dollar value of hospitality is greater by tens of millions of dollars. The Marriott Shoals has been a driving force to develop and enhance our Shoals image throughout the southeast, the United States and around the world. People have now visited here that would probably never have found us before. We are so proud of the Marriott Shoals Hotel, Larry Bowser and its employees. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will mean to the Shoals in hospitality because of the great presence of magnificent property.”
While David Letterman has gone off the air, he was known to be supportive of the Shoals area and its musical talents. In Letterman style, here is a Top 10 list to mark this milestone
Top 10 Ways Marriott Shoals Improves the Area
10. Brought four communities and two counties together to work for a common good.
9. Welcomed more than 700,000 hotels guests staying in nearly 500,000 occupied rooms.
8. Served 1.8 million meals and finally got the tower to rotate.
7. Attract thousands of national and international golfers and make sure they learn about Muscle Shoals music before leaving.
6. Paid $40 million in wages to local residents since opening while creating careers for our 232 associates.
5. Pay our utility bill on time, all $8.87 million of it.
4. Welcomed 7 new hotels to the area since we opened, helping the lodging tax increase 353% to more than $1 million.
3. Did I mention the Spa.
2. Live music every night with $665,000 going to local Muscle Shoals musicians.
1. Established the Shoals as a destination while collecting $106 million in revenue.