Courtyard By Marriott Brand Being Refreshed, Sort Of

Courtyard By Marriott Brand Being Refreshed, Sort Of

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The Courtyard by Marriott brand will be evolving in the coming years, though the only thing that will consistently be changing is the exterior of hotels. Hmmm…

Courtyard hotel exteriors are being updated

Courtyard is Marriott’s largest brand (in terms of the number of properties), and personally it’s also the Marriott brand I avoid the most (the brand is limited service, doesn’t offer free breakfast, and many properties are outdated). It looks like we should expect some changes to these properties soon.

It has been announced that Courtyard by Marriott properties will undergo a “modern design evolution and robust renovation strategy for North America.” More than 375 of the brand’s earliest generation hotels throughout the United States and Canada are expected to be modernized with exterior renovations by 2024, including prominent displays of the refreshed Courtyard logo, plus landscaping updates.

Here’s how the updates to the outside of properties are described:

The new façade is inspired by an elegant and minimal aesthetic to include a redesigned porte-cochere, reframed and repainted exterior surfaces, ambient lighting, new signage, and fresh landscaping. It features wood tones with gray hues to reflect the smart casual style of Courtyard’s next-gen traveler. Landscape planting will accentuate the architectural elements of the hotel while creating an open, unobstructed view.

So to be clear, in three years we can expect that the exteriors of Courtyard properties in North America will be updated? Isn’t it what’s on the inside that counts? This is like updating the livery of a plane, without changing the interior. In fairness, the new exteriors do look like a significant improvement over the old ones.

New Courtyard by Marriott exterior
New Courtyard by Marriott exterior

What about the interiors of Courtyard hotels?

It’s stated that “many” Courtyard by Marriott properties will get new interior design in public spaces and guest rooms. We don’t know how many properties are getting interior updates, but the way this is phrased suggests to me that most of the changes we’ll see will be to the exteriors of properties.

Courtyard does have an updated design concept for the newest Courtyard properties, which will also be adopted by some earlier generation hotels. This includes a modernized lobby, and updates to The Bistro Bar (the lobby bar with food & drinks), CRATE Market (a grab & go food and drink selection), fitness centers, and guest rooms.

Courtyard by Marriott The Bistro Bar
Courtyard by Marriott guest room

Bottom line

Courtyard by Marriott is one brand I’ve never really cared for. It’s limited service, yet doesn’t offer free breakfast. Furthermore, most of the Courtyards I’ve seen are woefully outdated, and in many cases are conversions from other brands (of course there are also some nice Courtyards — there’s a lot of inconsistency within the brand).

Marriott markets Courtyard as being a “hotel brand specifically for business travelers.” To me that just means it’s a hotel brand for people who can expense breakfast, and therefore the hotel doesn’t have to offer it for free. I’m not sure what else makes this brand “better” for business travelers than any competing brands.

Anyway, the updates to Courtyard seem positive, though at the same time it’s hard to get too excited about a new facade, updated logo, and new landscaping, for a project that will take three years to complete. Updates to the interior are much more important, but those updates will only be coming to a much smaller number of properties.

What do you make of these updates to the Courtyard by Marriott brand?

Conversations (27)
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  1. wolf velbinger Guest

    redreshing marriott courtyards can't come soon enough. long overdue

  2. Jon Guest

    Wish they'd spend their efforts on expanding Four Points instead...

  3. Duh Guest

    Marriott requires renovations to all guest rooms and public spaces every 7 years. Once they change a “design” feature, it takes up to 7 years for all the hotels to get it. That isn’t news, every brand is on some sort of renovation cycle like this.

  4. Graham Guest

    I'm one of your UK-based readers. I stayed at the Courtyard in Oxford in the summer. It struck me as being bang up-to-date - very fresh, clean and modern, with a lovely roof garden terrace; certainly not in need of a refresh anyway. The staff were friendly, chatty and courteous, and while it didn't have quite the same level of amenities as say a Marriott or Sheraton, it wasn't too far behind. There were quite...

    I'm one of your UK-based readers. I stayed at the Courtyard in Oxford in the summer. It struck me as being bang up-to-date - very fresh, clean and modern, with a lovely roof garden terrace; certainly not in need of a refresh anyway. The staff were friendly, chatty and courteous, and while it didn't have quite the same level of amenities as say a Marriott or Sheraton, it wasn't too far behind. There were quite a few Americans staying there too! I stayed at an AC in Madrid last week, which was really superb. I suspect, as has been mentioned, that non-US Courtyards may be to a slightly better standard.

  5. Keyser Soze Guest

    Just a Marriott-specific FYI: I avoid all Marriott brand hotels Like The Plague because, prior to the pandemic, when I last stayed at one, they turbo-spam-called me. They called, literally, 50-60 times trying to flog Marriott-owned timeshares in Florida. The only way I (finally) got it to stop was by wasting as much of each agent’s time as possible on each call with inane questions and then telling them that I would continue to do...

    Just a Marriott-specific FYI: I avoid all Marriott brand hotels Like The Plague because, prior to the pandemic, when I last stayed at one, they turbo-spam-called me. They called, literally, 50-60 times trying to flog Marriott-owned timeshares in Florida. The only way I (finally) got it to stop was by wasting as much of each agent’s time as possible on each call with inane questions and then telling them that I would continue to do so on each call until they stopped. It took months for them to go away.

    1. Craig Guest

      I recently received a call from IHG following a stay, asking me to answer a few questions about my experience. Following a short, bogus "survey" I got sent to a salesperson for a pitch. It's not just Marriott.

    2. Jim Lovejoy Guest

      Are you sure that was Marriott? Spammers pretending to be Marriott were such a pest that Marriott filed a lawsuit against them.
      Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) today filed a lawsuit in federal court in Virginia against the unknown perpetrators (“John Does”) responsible for illegal and fraudulent “robocalls” misusing Marriott’s name.

    3. Keyser Soze Guest

      Yep, it started with the mention of my “recent stay at ” and don’t forget, they were flogging Marriott timeshares.

  6. Stuart Guest

    The two sweet spots in the mid-low tier of Marriott are AC and Element. AC is my favorite within Bonvoy as far as design and comfort in rooms. I just wish they would offer more properties with suites. My calculation thus far is only around 20% of them offer anything above a standard room category. Element is also fresh and offer really nice rooms, with suite options. The downside being that you get reduced earnings...

    The two sweet spots in the mid-low tier of Marriott are AC and Element. AC is my favorite within Bonvoy as far as design and comfort in rooms. I just wish they would offer more properties with suites. My calculation thus far is only around 20% of them offer anything above a standard room category. Element is also fresh and offer really nice rooms, with suite options. The downside being that you get reduced earnings at the properties because, well, Bonvoy decided this given the "extended stay" rule.

    Courtyard's are ugly, dated, and kind of like stepping into the 1980's. It's a shame really because the footprint is huge and they have some really handy locations. With so many of them though dating to the 80's and 90's there is little they can do in a refresh that will ever get them to an AC standard and look. Lipstick on a pig and all that.

  7. Dustin Guest

    The old courtyard design reminded me a lot of a hospital or rest home

  8. Sam Guest

    Most Courtyards where I have stayed have their TVs at odd angles which makes it difficult to watch from bed.
    Agree about the F&B being lackluster, used to have free coffee in the lobby up until a few years ago. They found they can make money on that.

    I'm an Ambassador and have been for awhile. I do everything to avoid staying at Courtyards.

    In this category, I would take a Hilton Garden Inn any day of the week

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Who are the idiots who design hotels? It's like they have never stayed in a hotel before.

  9. Jack Member

    I love on Marriott's website when they advertise a hotel has a "new lobby". What about the rooms? The new exterior is starting to look like the new Fairfield and SpringHill Suites.

  10. Mark F. Guest

    Hilton Garden > Marriott Courtyard

  11. UA-NYC Diamond

    Definitely the worst of all the Marriott brands - near-full service prices for a limited service offer, basically no benefits, just a mediocre experience.

    They should push more on expanding AC instead.

  12. K.M. Guest

    I stayed in a courtyard by Marriott a few weeks ago that opened in 2015 and I live within walking distance from a courtyard by Marriott that opened in I think 2019 (although I've never stayed there, just visited the hotel). Tbh my stay was great. Yes there wasn't free breakfast but the hotel was clean and modern and the dinner was delicious. The hotel I live near looks clean and relaxing and there's a...

    I stayed in a courtyard by Marriott a few weeks ago that opened in 2015 and I live within walking distance from a courtyard by Marriott that opened in I think 2019 (although I've never stayed there, just visited the hotel). Tbh my stay was great. Yes there wasn't free breakfast but the hotel was clean and modern and the dinner was delicious. The hotel I live near looks clean and relaxing and there's a shopping center within walking distance so it's really convenient.

  13. CF_Frost Member

    Compared to higher-end hotels business travelers who book rooms in this category of hotel often DO care about a free breakfast. Many of them are on a more limited per diem allowance and not having to burn it on breakfast really helps.

  14. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    This is a perfect example of what's wrong with Marriott.

    If you go to a Courtyard outside North America, they are almost always full-service properties with a real restaurant. There are even some Courtyard resorts. I have even seen Courtyard club lounges in Asia.

    Meanwhile, in North America, Courtyard has zero consistency.

    There are some okay relatively new or newly renovated properties, but there are also a lot of dumpy 1990s and early 2000s...

    This is a perfect example of what's wrong with Marriott.

    If you go to a Courtyard outside North America, they are almost always full-service properties with a real restaurant. There are even some Courtyard resorts. I have even seen Courtyard club lounges in Asia.

    Meanwhile, in North America, Courtyard has zero consistency.

    There are some okay relatively new or newly renovated properties, but there are also a lot of dumpy 1990s and early 2000s properties that need to be fully gutted. The lipstick on a pig renovations or updates never work out. Most owners do it as cheap as possible. I can't tell you how many properties I've stayed at with furniture and room decor elements falling apart even though they were just renovated. The quality isn't there.

    The new concept for North America Courtyards makes the bar area look less like a bistro and more like the bar at AC. I have a hard time believing the Courtyard in Vicksburg, Mississippi is going to adopt this concept when they literally just renovated.

    Unless you're going to mandate renovations or new buildings, like General Motors and Ford did with their car dealers and like McDonald's has done with franchisees, these new Courtyard concepts will be few and far between. I can't imagine many owners are going to replace their facade. That has to be expensive. I'm reminded of Fairfield. Properties built or renovated in 2015-2018 are already outdated because Marriott has a new concept for Fairfield that includes dropping the "Inn" from the brand's name. I actually like the new concept rooms and decor at Fairfield.

    Marriott could and should have used this as an excuse to consolidate Four Points and Courtyard. I actually prefer the food and beverage at Four Points over Courtyard. Most Four Points have a real restaurant. Courtyards have always been just a Fairfield or Residence Inn with a bar and better breakfast.

  15. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    This is nothing. Really nothing. IHG did something similar starting around 2010 with Holiday Inns, but the renovations were mandatory and included the de-flagging of the oldest and worst properties. Similarly, Best Western de-flagged a lot of its bad properties. Most of the old Holiday Inns and Best Westerns that refused to renovate or build a new building flagged as Quality Inn or Magnuson.

    1. Alec Guest

      If a hotel brand really wanted the loyalty of a road warrior they should create hotels with nice gyms! When you’re on the road every week you don’t care about a fancy lobby, you want a gym with variety of equipment to stay healthy.

  16. SEM Guest

    "This is like updating the livery of a plane, without changing the interior."

    ***Which airlines constantly do, and also make a fuss over with press releases...Just say'in...

  17. Matt Guest

    I think one positive thing about courtyards is that they are dog friendly.

  18. tim Guest

    Give Plats and above free breakfast and I'd be willing to try it out

  19. Randy Gold

    "doesn’t offer free breakfast"

    Courtyard does offer the $10 per person credit (up to 2) for top elites. That would give you the breakfast sandwich which costs about $8.50. Tip is not covered within the $10 (or $20 for 2).

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      I actually don't mind the Courtyard bistro egg with avocado and toast for breakfast, but the $10 credit (especially with inflation since the value never changes) is worthless. I normally just list room occupancy as two people when making my reservation so I can get the $20. You can cover the full cost of breakfast with two cups of coffee for $20.

  20. Jason Guest

    I guess I haven’t stayed in Courtyards for a long time, but I remember them being the brand in the 1990s KNOWN for its free breakfast buffet. News to me that breakfast isn’t free there nowadays. That free breakfast was the reason my parents would choose courtyard over others, depending on the situation. Oh well, things change, I suppose.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Most Courtyards don't even provide free coffee. All Courtyards in North America (new or renovated) after around 2010 have featured a small "bistro" that has a coffee machine with Starbucks coffee, a full bar, and menu of mostly frozen food or easy to make sandwiches and salads.

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jim Lovejoy Guest

Are you sure that was Marriott? Spammers pretending to be Marriott were such a pest that Marriott filed a lawsuit against them. Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) today filed a lawsuit in federal court in Virginia against the unknown perpetrators (“John Does”) responsible for illegal and fraudulent “robocalls” misusing Marriott’s name.

1
Jack Member

I love on Marriott's website when they advertise a hotel has a "new lobby". What about the rooms? The new exterior is starting to look like the new Fairfield and SpringHill Suites.

1
Mark F. Guest

Hilton Garden > Marriott Courtyard

1
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