Marriott Courtyard unveils new lobby concept, rolls out displays in airports across the country

Courtyard by Marriott has recently begun rolling out improvements to their popular brand. In July, we told you about improvements to their food service model through a their new “Bistro” concept. Now, the brand is rolling out newly-renovated lobbies and has chosen a fitting place for the concept to make its debut – airports.

[Check out this page, on where to find the Lobby Zone displays.]

Popular amongst business travelers and families alike, Courtyard drew loyal fans for their full, hot breakfast buffets. But as the average traveler evolved, hotel executives realized that the area taken up by the breakfast buffet went unused for a good portion of the day. As part of the redesign, the brand re-invented their food service model, transforming the buffet and lobby areas into “bistros” with a quick casual vibe, and re-invented their lobby to match.

The new lobbies include laptop friendly stations with multiple outlets and a giant touchscreen TV where travelers can look up the weather, news and local attractions to help them with their stay. The more modern decor caters to younger and more tech-savvy travelers as well.
%Gallery-138489%We asked Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager for Courtyard by Marriott, a few questions about the new renovations:

Does the new lobby concept indicate a new type of traveler to your brand, a modernization of the property, or a bit of both?

The redesign of the lobby and public space environment wasn’t simply modernization for the sake of modernization. It was modernization that was informed by evolving guest needs and their desire for a more flexible space to work and relax, as well as their desire for a variety of food and beverage options in both the morning and evening.

Are there any other advancements to the hotels we can be expecting in the coming months?

We’ve recently unveiled the new and exciting GoBoard® 4.0 [which] now provides guests with immediate access to detailed flight departure and arrival information for all local airports and allows guests to send directions to local area restaurants and attractions from the GoBoard® directly to their smart phones.

How did your team design the new concept – what was the thought process behind the change?

We based our design on extensive customer feedback and enlisted the San Francisco-based design firm, IDEO, to create a totally new lobby experience that makes it easy to work, plug-in, socialize and relax.

When can we expect these new lobbies to be rolled out to all hotels? How many are open now?

We currently have over 800 Courtyard hotels in North America, and more than 50% of them will feature the redesigned lobby by the end of the year. We expect that over 90% of our hotels will have the new lobby and public space design by the end of 2013.

Where can travelers find these lobby concepts to test out?

[T]ravelers at Phoenix Terminal 4, Houston Terminal E, near Gate 19, and Baltimore/Washington Concourse A now have an oasis to recharge their devices and their energy before boarding.These are accessible through December 16.

Have you experienced the new lobby concept for yourself? What do you think? Weigh in with your comments, below.

Win free travel on Social Media Day

The second annual Social Media Day is tomorrow. A worldwide celebration of the revolution of media becoming social, meetings are scheduled around the world. It’s all about sharing, engaging and interacting and some hotels and resorts are offering deals, amenities, free nights, and even trip giveaways through different social media interactions.

Here’s how it works. Check each one of the properties listed below. Each has a different offer, done a different way. Some require simply visiting the properties Facebook page and liking them, others require a tweet or that you pay attention to their Twitter feed for special offers throughout the day. Setting up a special list on Twitter (I have one called “deals”) then adding a Tweetdeck column or simply paying attention to email alerts can give you a heads up for what to do or say. There are usually a few surprises mixed in these things so take a look at six reasons to stay wired on this day:

1) Sandpearl Resort /
Facebook users who “like” Sandpearl and post a photo of themselves on property (tagging Sandpearl Resort in their photo), receive 25% off an Ice Cream pedicure at the Spa. (must be booked on Social Media Day, but can be redeemed on a future date)

2) San Juan Marriott / / @sanjuanmarriott
Keep an eye on the San Juan Marriott’s Facebook page and Twitter feed for offers throughout the day. The resort will be posting and sharing special “Social Media Day Only” offers such as free upgrades, complimentary drinks and value-added amenities.

3) Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino / @arubamarriott
Follow @ArubaMarriott on Twitter and on June 30, tweet the message: “Tweet me with a trip to @ArubaMarriott #SMDay” for an entry in to a drawing for a 3 night/4 day stay for two.

4) Marriott Costa Rica Collection /
Post a photo of something you find beautiful in Costa Rica (for example, a sunset, a tonka tree, a scarlet macaw, ziplining, etc.) Then get your friends to “like” your photo and the photo with the most likes at the end of the day (midnight, EST) will win a free night at choice of any of the four Costa Rica Resorts.

5) St. Kitts Marriott Resort /
On June 30, visit St. Kitts Marriott’s Facebook page where you can answer the question posted in their status: “Which one of your friends is the most glued to his/her social networks?” Submit your answer on the resort’s Facebook wall and tag your socially addicted friend to receive a voucher for a 40% discount off a spa treatment at the Emerald Mist Spa.

6) JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa
CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort /
Facebook users who tag themselves in a specified property photo (which will be announced on the resorts’ Facebook pages) on Social Media Day, will be entered to win a three night stay at the resort. Winners will be drawn at random.

Flickr photo by jmenard48

Marriott plans Autograph Collection openings in Europe

Marriott’s newest hotel brand, the Autograph Collection, will make its debut in Europe with the opening of four hotels in Spain. The hotel company said it plans to have the Europe Autograph Collection open by May 2011.

The concept of Marriott‘s Autograph Collection has been a great success in the U.S. since it launched year. Independent boutique hotels, with a historical and elegant touch, join the collection to add rooms to Marriott portfolio and offer guests Marriott benefits. The U.S. hotels include the newly open Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Algonquin Hotel in New York and the Kessler Collection hotels in Orlando, Florida and Savannah, Georgia. As for Spain, travelers can look forward to the following:

  • AC Santo Mauro, Madrid, Spain: The first of two Madrid hotels will offer 50 rooms in an elegant late nineteenth-century building, which was once the residence of the Duke de Santo Mauro.
  • AC Palacio del Retiro, Madrid, Spain: The second Madrid hotel, also a 50-guestroom property – takes over a Spanish residence, complete with original mouldings, woodwork and stained-glass windows.
  • AC Palacio de Santa Paula, Granada, Spain: The 75-room AC Palacio de Santa Paula is located in the historic center of Granada and in what used to be the Santa Paula Convent, and within walking distance of La Alhambra.
  • AC Baqueira Hotel & Spa, Baqueira, Spain: For the more off-the-beaten-path traveler, 102-room AC Baqueira Hotel & Spa will be the first ski resort in Marriott International’s portfolio in Europe, located in Baqueira-Beret ski station near the Pyrenees.

Marriott joins Riddell, Sports Authority as sponsor of USA Football

Marriott International is picking up the pigskin and getting into the game. The hotel company just signed a deal with USA Football as the official hotel for the national organization overseeing football in the United States and its U.S. National Team program.

USA Football, headquartered in Indianapolis, is an independent non-profit organization leading the development of youth, high school, and international amateur football. The organization was founded and endowed by the NFL and NFL Players Association in 2002. Its board of directors includes everyone from Ray Anderson of the National Football League to Desmond Howard, Hesiman Trophy winner and ESPN commentator and Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL.

As part of the Marriott deal, USA Football members will receive special offers and rates when they stay at various Marriott hotels, including JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Fairfield Inns and Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but this deal makes Marriott the third national partner (joining Riddell and Sports Authority) for USA Football.

[via Indianapolis Business Journal]

Marriott guest sues property after alleged sexual assault by hotel employee

A woman filed suit today against a Marriott property, claiming she was sexually assaulted by an employee of the hotel during a stay on April 23, 2010.

In the suit, Katherine Olson claims hotel employee Mauricio Rodriguez entered her room using a master key code card, removed his clothes, and assaulted her. The suit also alleges that Rodriguez was intoxicated.

According to the suit, Marriott International:

“failed to provide adequate security, allowed employees with access to master keys to become intoxicated, served employees excess amounts of alcohol and allowed employees access to master keys after their shifts”

The hotel in question is located at 50 N. Martingdale Rd in Schaumburg. The news is especially embarrassing for Marriott as they just took announced the removal of all porn movies from their hotel pay-per-view system claiming the decision was made to “keep adult content out of the reach of children and unavailable to any adult who chooses not to view it”

This is the second lawsuit Marriott is involved in this month that involves sexual harassment. Earlier, a Las Vegas property was sued by two employees of the hotel alleging that a supervisor assaulted them, claiming hotel management was informed, but failed to take any actions.

And this all comes six months after ESPN reporter Erin Andrews filed suit against another Marriott property for failing to protect her, when a stalker filmed her through the peephole of her hotel room.