A levels? Here’s 3 fab hoteliers who managed without!


Yesterday marked a terrifying day for many young people as they received their AS and A levels results. Months of revision, pages upon pages of notes, several sleepless nights and (probably) more than a few tears morphed into one, single grade. Here at Holiday Inn Dumfries, we want to say a massive well done to everyone- we hope the hard work paid off!

However, we also know it might have been a disappointing day for many- sometimes things just don’t go the way we plan! In order to uplift your spirits, we want to make a few examples of people within our own industry that have been remarkably successful with very little formal education…
Let us introduce our top 3 fabulous hoteliers that, despite all odds, became hospitality giants!

1) Cesar Ritz
If there ever was a name that epitomizes hotels, it’s this one! However, his remarkable history is truly at odds with the luxury and excess the Ritz name carries.

Ritz was born in a small Swiss village and was the youngest of 13 in a poor peasant family. When he was a teenager, his father sent him to a Jesuit boarding school, presumably as a method of escape from the harsh realities of farm life. It soon became apparent that he possessed very little interest in academics and was described as “having shown only vaguely artistic leanings”. After a few years, he found a small job working as a wine waiter at a local hotel. However, he was soon dismissed from this position and told, by one of the hotels patrons, “You’ll never make anything of yourself in the hotel business. It takes a special knack, a special flair, and it’s only right that I tell you the truth- you haven’t got it”. As well as this, at one point, he worked as a waiter in a workman’s bistro where he was later sacked for breaking too many dishes in his desire to work briskly!

After these setbacks, he went to France to find his fortune; he gradually moved up within the industry, transforming himself from a waiter into a maître d’hôtel, manager, and eventually hotelier. Despite this success, his career never ran smoothly! His legacy at the Savoy Hotel was rather overshadowed by his dramatic dismissal after being accused of fraud when more than £3,400 of wine and spirits went missing.

However, In the face of adversary, he always managed to climb to new heights. In 1898, he opened the celebrated Hôtel Ritz in the Place Vendôme, Paris, France. He went on to open The Ritz Hotel in London, United Kingdom in 1906, which became one of the most popular meeting places for the rich and famous.

2) Kemmons Wilson
Kemmons Wilson is responsible for creating one of the most familiar international hotel brands: Holiday Inn.

He had a rough start to life; his father, an insurance salesman, died when Kemmons was nine months old. He was raised solely by his Mother in Memphis, Tennessee. His story is pretty standard until one particularly terrible family trip to Washington. He was continuously disappointed by the quality of the roadside motels in which he stayed. So, he decided to make a stand. He opened his first hotel in Memphis in 1952 and named it after a reference to a Bing Cosby Movie of the same name.

In 1957, Wilson franchised the chain as Holiday Inn of America and it grew dramatically. He followed the basic principles that a hotel should be standardised, clean, predictable, family-friendly and readily accessible to road travellers.

Kemmons’ story demonstrates how a freak bolt of inspiration can change your whole life, with enough perseverance that is.

3) John Willard Marriott
John Willard Marriot was the founder of the Marriott Corporation (which later became Marriott International). Marriott International is a hospitality company that manages and franchises a huge selection of hotels. Marriott International has more than 4,087 properties in over 80 countries!

Unbelievably, this commercial giant started as a small root beer stand in Washington DC! As time went by, Marriot gradually expanded the menu….he added a lot of Mexican food items which, undoubtedly, contributed to the stands popularity! Eventually, his empire grew into a chain of family run restaurants and, later, motels. By the time he died, the Marriott Company operated 1,400 restaurants and 143 hotels and resorts worldwide, including two theme parks!

A true entrepreneur!

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