In a further attempt to set their high-end property apart from others, the management of the new JW Marriott-Grand Rapids that opens in September hit a universal raw nerve with its plans for a “women-only” floor for female travelers. The “controversy” was splashed across the airwaves and Internet sites throughout the country, bringing a cautious reassessment from hotel management, but in the end, no reason to change course.
The new 340-room, 24-story hotel at
George Aquino, general manager of the new hotel and former director of operations at the Amway Grand, said 51 percent of business travelers are female, “definitely an increase from what it used to be.” He cited security and comfort as prime considerations for the female business traveler, adding that the females-only floor also will have its own female-only lounge area, where guests can plug in laptops and make business connections. JW Marriott Director of Sales and Marketing
In a more secure setting women can avoid unwanted — and uncalled for — advances from a segment of male travelers, some of whom aren’t at all bashful about “making moves” in a setting that is sheltered from home. Sneer and debunk this concern as much as they want, those who shun this reality and say the hotel is just setting itself up for significant discrimination claims are missing the point. Facing safety threats while traveling for an employer should not be a cost of doing business. It’s a societal concern that can be addressed — in this case — in a very effective way.
The establishment of the women’s floor is not the only method in which the hotel operators are recognizing safety concerns. The attractive cylinder-like layout of the hotel means no long, expansive hallways that offer opportunities for ill-will. The same reason that gender-specific dorm floors exist on college campuses is at the heart of why female travelers deserve, and would be attracted to, considerations that make them feel more secure.
The women’s floor is only one of many ideas that lead to the type of marketing that sets one property apart from the others and makes customers want to come back. Hotel operators are in the business of helping and serving their customers. This action is catering to the needs of women and likely will be welcomed by those who appreciate the accessibility of such options. And the widespread splash of publicity — positive or negative — regarding the JW plans here certainly put the place on the map well before it welcomes its first guest.
The JW is not the first hotel taking this approach. There are major hotels in