SPOTLIGHT ON Bruce Rohr, Vice President & Global Brand Leader, JW Marriott

JW Marriott Madrid

In a recent conversation with the ILHA, Bruce Rohr shared his profound early experiences that ignited his passion for hospitality, his sources of inspiration drawn from extensive travel, and how these experiences have shaped his approach to creating exceptional guest experiences. Additionally, Bruce discusses the exciting initiatives at JW Marriott, including the JW Garden concept and the introduction of “serene spaces” across all properties, as well as the company’s commitment to making these tranquil spaces a brand standard. This interview offers valuable insights into the evolving landscape of luxury hospitality and the importance of mindfulness in delivering exceptional guest satisfaction.

You are joining the panel session discussing THE POWER OF WELLNESS AND MINDFULNESS IN LUXURY HOSPITALITY: BOOSTING PROFITABILITY AND ELEVATING GUEST SATISFACTION. Can you give us a preview of what you will be talking about?

I’m thrilled to be part of the panel and believe many in the audience are likely familiar with JW Marriott, a brand named after our founder, J. Willard Marriott. However, what I’m excited to share is a lesser-known aspect of our brand’s inspiration—J. Willard Marriott’s personal approach to life and the daily habits he practiced to prioritize self-care.

Participating in this panel feels like a natural fit for us because we have an authentic story to tell about J. Willard’s daily practices. Whether it was his commitment to journaling, his appreciation for spending time in nature, or his dedication to moments of rejuvenation, all of these habits played a significant role in his life as he was building a major global company. These practices from the past align remarkably with what we now consider mindfulness, and I look forward to discussing how they not only shaped our brand’s ethos but also continue to impact the luxury hospitality industry today.

Bruce Rohr, Vice President & Global Brand Leader, JW Marriott

JW Marriott Jeju Exterior

How do you envision the future of wellness in the hospitality industry, particularly in light of the evolving expectations of modern travelers? Are there any emerging trends or opportunities Marriott is looking to capitalize on?

When we look at the future of wellness in the hospitality industry, we can’t ignore the profound shifts in traveler expectations, especially in light of the collective experiences we’ve had over the past few years. It’s clear that priorities have evolved, not just for our guests but also for our team members. Travelers today are seeking something more profound than just a place to stay; they’re looking for experiences that cater to their holistic well-being.

One significant trend we see is a heightened emphasis on self-care and rejuvenation. It’s no longer just about physical fitness; it’s about creating moments of personal wellness. Whether it’s finding time for mindfulness, relaxation, or simply taking a break from the daily grind, these moments are becoming increasingly important to travelers. 

In addition to this, we’re witnessing global cultural changes that influence the hospitality landscape. Sustainability and conservation efforts are gaining prominence, aligning with the values of many travelers, especially younger generations. Travelers now seek hotel companies that share their values, and this extends to mindfulness and self-care, which are deeply personal topics for many. Furthermore, issues like social justice and the ability to express one’s authentic self are also crucial considerations for travelers when choosing accommodations.

At Marriott, including JW Marriott, we understand the significance of these trends and are committed to meeting the evolving needs and values of our guests. Our focus remains on creating experiences that not only prioritize physical well-being but also nurture the mind, spirit, and the broader global community, ensuring that our guests have a meaningful and fulfilling stay with us.

JW Marriott Lily Kwong Orlando Bonnet Creek

Looking forward to the next year, can you give us a sneak peek into any exciting projects or initiatives that Marriott has in store to enhance the guest experience? Do any of these translate into company culture?

Certainly, we have an exciting lineup of initiatives planned for Marriott in the upcoming year that are set to elevate the guest experience. One of the standout projects is our JW Garden concept, a journey we’ve been embarking on by gradually introducing it across our properties in recent years. However, the big news is that in the next year, every Marriott location worldwide will proudly feature its very own signature JW Garden.

This initiative is not just a testament to our founder, J. Willard Marriott, and his deep-rooted love for nature, but also a heartfelt homage to his wife, Alice, who cultivated fruits and vegetables in their own garden, often featured in their cherished family Sunday suppers. This initiative not only honors our heritage but also forges a meaningful connection to the travel experience.

The beauty of the JW Garden is that it extends far beyond aesthetics. The garden-grown ingredients will find their way into our food and beverage menus and even enrich our spa treatments. This means that guests will have the opportunity to embark on a unique and immersive culinary journey when they stay with us.

To further enhance the impact of these gardens, we’ve joined hands with Lily Kwong from Studio Lily Kwong to design three gardens in the United States. Currently, we’re in the final stages of completing our fourth garden at JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach in collaboration with her team. We’re excited about the creative possibilities that lie ahead in this ongoing partnership.

Beyond the garden initiative, we’re introducing “serene spaces” across all our properties. These designated areas will allow our guests to pause, reflect, and connect with their inner selves. Whether it’s the breathtaking view or simply a quiet spot on the property, these “serene spaces” are designed to enhance our guests’ overall well-being and provide moments of tranquility amidst their travels.

At JW Marriott, we are deeply committed to crafting memorable experiences that transcend traditional hospitality. These initiatives not only exemplify our dedication to elevating the guest experience but also underscore our commitment to fostering a culture of mindfulness and appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us.

What makes these initiatives even more exciting is our commitment to making tranquil spaces a brand standard across all our properties, regardless of whether they are in urban or resort locations. It’s a significant step forward in our mission to provide these peaceful oases for every guest, underscoring our unwavering commitment to enhancing the guest experience, no matter where they choose to stay within the JW Marriott family.

Where did your love for hospitality come from and where do you find your inspiration?

My passion for hospitality has its roots in the incredible opportunities I had growing up with my parents and brother. We were fortunate enough to embark on numerous family trips, exploring various parts of our country. During my teenage years, I had the chance to venture to Europe for my first international travel experience. It was during these formative years that I developed a deep fascination with travel and its ability to spark my curiosity.

One particularly memorable trip took me to Angkor Wat in Cambodia several years ago. While staying at a hotel there, I came across a quote in the guest directory attributed to Saint Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page.” This quote struck a chord with me and has since become a personal mantra. I’ve made it my mission to read as many chapters of this worldly book as possible because through travel, I’ve not only learned about diverse cultures, people, traditions, and customs but have also experienced profound personal growth.

What truly inspires me are those life-changing experiences that allow me to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of another country’s culture and its people. These journeys have continually fueled my passion for hospitality and have reinforced my commitment to creating memorable experiences for others, enriching their understanding of the world and themselves in the process.