Transcript: J.W. 'Bill' Marriott Jr.

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 31, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Business leaders are not the only ones upbeat about this economy, Americans also feeling pretty good, expected to travel in record numbers this summer. They will be spending big, too.

And some say the biggest sticker shock will come right at the hotel, at the check-in counter.

Joining me now, a real legend in the travel business, because I think he has more hotel rooms than any guy on the planet, Bill Marriott, the chairman and CEO of Marriott International (MAR).

Bill, good to see you in the flesh.


CAVUTO: Well, despite all the naysayers out there that they wouldn't travel, we had record numbers in travel this past weekend, that they wouldn't book hotels, we have record numbers planning to do so this summer. What's going on?

MARRIOTT: Well, people are anxious to get out and about. It looks to me like the gas price thing has not had a major impact on them.

CAVUTO: Why do you think that is?

MARRIOTT: I think that they are just want to get free. I mean, it's been three, four years now since 9/11. And they want to be out there and travel around. And they have got money to spend.

People have money in their pockets. And they're anxious to travel. They're not going very much to Europe because of the dollar relationship with the euro and the pound, but they are staying closer to home and they're traveling big-time in the United States. And we're getting more international travelers coming here from Europe.

CAVUTO: So, your regions, what would you consider to be hot, either within this country or near this country?

MARRIOTT: Well, New York is very hot.

CAVUTO: Is it really?

MARRIOTT: And Washington is very good. Boston is getting better. The West Coast is picking up nicely. Orlando is doing better because of the influx of the European and South American travelers.

CAVUTO: Do you think there is a relationship between soaring real estate prices and hotel bookings? A lot of people say there is.

MARRIOTT: I don't know, but there is sure a big relationship between resort and real estate prices and hotel bookings.

CAVUTO: Do you think it's looking toppy?


CAVUTO: Do you think it's looking toppy?

MARRIOTT: It's looking a little frothy. But I don't think it's a problem. I think people have the money. The best investment you can make is probably your home.

CAVUTO: Yes, but what about the really hot areas, Bill, like in Florida, where I know that you have exposure in some of the hot areas on the West Coast, part of the Northeast, around the Boston area, Washington, New York?

MARRIOTT: There's a lot of speculation, speculation particularly in resort condominium areas. You are seeing it in Las Vegas. You are seeing it in Miami, places like that. And I don't think that can sustain itself.

CAVUTO: All right.

If Alan Greenspan continues willy-nilly hiking rates, it can't be good for your industry.

MARRIOTT: Well, right now, interest rates are still very, very low in this country, particularly compared with what they are around the world. And so, I think we're very competitive, and I think we'll stay that way.

CAVUTO: If we get long-term rates going below short-term rates, a lot of people say that means a recession. Do you?

MARRIOTT: I don't necessarily think so.

I think we have got a lot of momentum in this country. I think people are making money. Unemployment is down. And we're seeing more people come into the job market. We are seeing some good employment numbers. There's an awful lot of money chasing real estate. There seems to be a tremendous amount of cash out there.

CAVUTO: And you might be right. Some of these surveys, one we're showing now, people still planning these trips. They're doing it regardless of the uptick in rates. They're doing it regardless, maybe even because of what's going on elsewhere, right? They just need a break.

MARRIOTT: I think they need a break and they feel they're entitled to a good vacation this summer. And they're going to take it.

CAVUTO: They're going to take it.

All right, Bill Marriott, thank you very much. Bill is the chairman and CEO of Marriott International.

Do you spy on your hotels to make sure they're on the up and up...


MARRIOTT: Oh, I'm out there.


MARRIOTT: And I'm seeing what is going on.

CAVUTO: Yes, the disguise and everything else, because you're recognizable.


CAVUTO: You have to be careful.

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