Bentonville, Ark. has been the headquarters of Walmart since the company’s inception in 1962. When I visited Sam Walton in the early days, I would meet him at a Ramada coffee shop at 6 a.m. and discuss the future of Walmart.
It was not very glamorous – but it was very helpful to meet with the CEO of a growing company and learn about his vision. Sam had already been in his office to review the previous day’s sales figures and was always planning his next visit to stores.
Fast forward to tomorrow.
Walmart’s management is planning a new headquarter campus by realigning some of the existing buildings. A new AC Hotel by Marriott will be housed on the Walmart corporate campus as well. It will measure 90,000 square feet. The hotel will have 153 guest rooms, 6,000 square feet of meeting and event space, restaurants, and a roof-top lounge with indoor and outdoor seating. It will open in the summer of 2024. “Drawing inspiration from the beauty of the natural state, the hotel will reflect the region through natural woods and stones as well as curated art installations”, said Cindi Marsiglio, SVP of Walmart’s corporate real estate.
Walmart’s campus will also feature a corporate health and wellness center; it will be over 360,000 square feet in size and house the latest fitness equipment. It will also have communal spaces and special outdoor racquet courts. The center will be dedicated to the Walton family.
Another plan is to add a 73,000 square foot child care center to the campus which will be a welcome addition for associates and visitors alike.
The company’s worldwide presence brings many business visitors to Bentonville, and a thoughtful campus with all these new amenities would be appropriate to welcome them.
POSTSCRIPT: It is about time that Walmart had a new campus. It was a quaint experience to visit the company as it grew from its humble beginnings in the Ozarks into a world giant. New offices, more marketing, and better facilities for vendors to meet buyers were all needed ten years ago to clearly establish Bentonville as a vibrant world-headquarters. There are planes flying into Northwest Arkansas National Airport that bring executives from all over the U.S. and the world. They bring visitors to Walmart’s headquarters and the headquarters campus should support that global stature in an appropriate, yet brand-right way.