Omni Hotels Are Full of Guests After Owner Zaps In-Room Porn Movies

by | Sep 30, 2000 | Charisma Archive


Robert B. Rowling flipped through the channels in a luxurious, squeaky-clean room at one of his hotels one night after he bought the Omni Hotel chain in 1996. Suddenly he was horrified at the pornographic films available on pay-for-view channels.


“I don’t want this in my hotels,” Rowling announced to his staff the next day.


Removing the movies wasn’t easy, however. The change cost him $4 million, including lost revenue. Rowling had to switch movie-service providers and buy new televisions for every room–a total of 8,700 sets.


Because he inherited existing contracts from the previous owner, he had to wait until each service’s contract expired. He didn’t waver on his commitment to get the porn out, and on Nov. 5, 1999, he announced to the world the adult movies would no longer be available.


“I was uncomfortable with the content being shown in our hotels because it’s not compatible with my beliefs,” Rowling said.


Rowling, who gives very few interviews, is a “very moral Christian who made his money in oil and gas,” said Peter

Strebel, Omni vice president of marketing. Rowling, who lives in Dallas, has a law degree from Southern Methodist University.


Guests had the option of calling the front desk to get the movies blocked, but Rowling said people shouldn’t have to be constantly on guard to protect their families. Since the porn movies were yanked, the 47-year-old Rowling has watched occupancy increase at the upscale hotels, with guests filling Omni rooms.


Strebel said it’s difficult to determine whether the increased occupancy rate is because of removing the porn, or because of other innovative things the hotel chain is doing.


Rowling invested more than $1 billion dollars in capital improvements after he purchased the hotels and made them into four-star, four-diamond, upscale properties with luxurious grounds. But just as sweeping were the family-friendly changes that came with Rowling’s ownership. The new movie provider, LodgeNet, offers first-run, on-demand movies, Nintendo video games, digital free-to-guest TV and other interactive services.


“We’ve seen good success in the religious market since the decision [to unplug the porn] was made,” said David Oelerich, director of sales and marketing at Omni Interlocken Resort in the Denver area.


“We’re broadening our reach in existing markets because of it,” Oelerich said. “The decision to drop the adult movies reached out across a broad market and spectrum.”


When Betty Vickers booked a National School Conference Institute seminar for 80 school principals at the Interlocken, she didn’t know Rowling was going to “clean house” and remove pornographic movies.


“This is a very nice hotel,” said Vickers, surveying the grand lobby area of the Interlocken Resort, which rises from a lush green valley at the hem of the glacier-topped Rocky Mountains. “It’s a wonderful thing [that they’ve taken out the X-rated movies]. It adds to the attraction. Teachers, you would hope, don’t sit around looking at that type of movie.”


By the end of July, Strebel said Omni received 70,000 letters thanking the privately held company for making the bold step to not only remove X-rated films, but also for removing pornographic magazines from its gift shops–which Rowling did when he first purchased the hotels. The company has received 10,000 e-mails in support of the decision.


“The majority of responses were from women,” Strebel told Charisma, noting more and more women are among business travelers. “The common thread from men was, ‘Thank you for removing the temptation.’ We’ve only had five total negative responses.”


Many in the hotel industry said Rowling took a big risk in removing the movies because they are big money makers for hotels.


“We’ve had our best year as far as business goes,” Strebel said. “It says to me that overwhelmingly Americans believe in pro-family values.”


Seventy radio stations interviewed Strebel about Rowling’s bold decision, and almost every large-circulation newspaper has written a story about it. The increased ink brought Omni Hotels to the attention of millions of Americans.


“We didn’t remove the adult movies to capitalize on it [get the publicity],” Strebel said. “We did it because it was the right thing to do,” he added, which is how Rowling describes his decision.


–Ada Nicholson Brownell

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Why Love Shouldn’t Upset Your Health Journey

Why Love Shouldn’t Upset Your Health Journey

What should we do when our loving husband brings us our favorite candy and we have committed to not eating sugar? As a Christian weight loss coach, I’ve heard from many wives who are afraid of hurting his feelings if she tells him she doesn’t want that any more. She’s...

What’s the Answer to Raging Political Violence in the Nations?

What’s the Answer to Raging Political Violence in the Nations?

Read Time: 1 Minute, 21 Seconds I’ve had several prophetic words on political violence come to me in recent months. I can’t shake it, especially after seeing the vice president of Argentina narrowly escape an assassination because the would-be-murderer’s gun jammed....

Prophecy: The Lord is Releasing Prophetic Destinies

Prophecy: The Lord is Releasing Prophetic Destinies

Read Time: 1 Minute, 44 Seconds The world is shifting and we are entering a critical time in history, one that can be concerning for some and exciting for others. We are seeing the very prophecy of the Bible laid out and manifesting before us. The harvest is coming!...

David Jeremiah: The Significance of a Small Sacrifice

David Jeremiah: The Significance of a Small Sacrifice

Read Time: 4 Minutes, 28 Seconds Did you hear about the boy who took off his favorite bow tie during the church service and put it in the offering plate? When his dad asked him why he had done such a thing, the youngster replied, “Don’t you know? The pastor tells us...

Kingdom Economics: Choosing a Better Way—God’s Way

Kingdom Economics: Choosing a Better Way—God’s Way

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its third and final estimate of second quarter GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and its PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditure Price Index). Since core (less food and energy) PCE is one of the Fed’s preferred measures of...

RECENT ARTICLES

Orthodox Jew: The Miraculous Return of the Red Heifer to Israel

Read Time: 4 Minutes, 4 Seconds American Airlines flight 146 touched down at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport on time, arriving from New York’s JFK airport as one of the dozens of flights that arrive in...
Brother Andrew Was My Hero

Brother Andrew Was My Hero

When Andrew van der Bijl was a young man, doctors told him he was “too weak to travel” because of his chronic back pain. That advice seems absurd now, when we look back on the life of this legendary evangelist who came to be known as “Brother Andrew.” After he started...

Elvis Presley’s Charismatic Faith on Display in New Book

Elvis Presley’s Charismatic Faith on Display in New Book

A new book called “The Faith of Elvis Presley” explores the spiritual side of the iconic “Heartbreak Hotel” singer, asserting that Elvis was a devout Christian who prayed for the infilling of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. The author, Billy Stanley, whose mother...

Pin It on Pinterest