Newark Travel Guide
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Just over two years ago, Newark got its first new hotel in four decades. And it looks like the fever is catching, because Hotel Indigo has just opened up in downtown Newark, making it the third in the New York area.
The theme is “modern industry” (tanneries, breweries and innovators hung around here in the 19th century), so there’s a mosaic tiled ticker tape (Thomas Edison’s invention) in the lobby, a bank vault-turned pizza oven in the restaurant, ALVA, and exposed brick walls in the bedrooms, giving it that authentic industrial vibe (the building itself is from 1912).
Today, for the first time in 40 years, Newark has a new hotel—the Courtyard Newark Downtown. Don’t roll your eyes! This is good news for several reasons. First, for those who have to, for whatever reason, fly out of Newark and also must stay overnight in the area, there's now a brand-spanking new option in a place where the selection has become a quality crap shoot.
This property is four miles from the airport (there's a free shuttle), plus it's within walking distance of Newark Penn Station, so if you can’t afford NYC hotel rates, bingo—you’ve got a friend in Newark and it’s only a short train ride away.
The 150-room hotel is owned by Tucker Development and Robert Finvarb Companies, but managed by Marriott International, so the well-known amenities and points are in place, but there are more in case you haven’t checked out a Courtyard in a minute. At this outpost the traditional front desk experience has been abandoned in favor of the more au currant boutique hotel method with individual welcome kiosks for a personal and private check-in experience.
Free WiFi and a business library with complimentary computers and a printer gets a thumbs up, as well as the Courtyard’s GoBoard 4.0, which dispenses local info such as maps, weather, news, and even flight information on a 55-inch LCD touch screen. It has mobile integration so guests can send the info directly to their smart phones! And, guests can dine and get Starbucks coffee at The Bistro, as well as get snacks and must-haves 24/7 from The Market.
In a roundabout way, some residents of Newark, NJ who can't afford to stay in a hotel will get to sleep on premium hotel linens after all.
The Newark-Liberty International Airport Marriott has just donated 200 sets of (used) bed linens to the Apostle's Houses of Newark, and this isn't just a one-time deal. Apostle's Houses offer services to men, women and families who can't spare even a cent, and the Marriott periodically changes their linens...so why not recycle them into the community that needs and would appreciate the aid?
Now we know the Newark Marriott isn't exactly a 500-thread-count place, but a clean, crisp and cool sheet is a simple pleasure in life. Think about that the next time you lay your head on a pillow in a room you've only purchased for a few nights.
Most of our talk about hotel key cards lately has concerned whether they're recyclable or not, but the whole "ease of use" factor is a pretty important to us, too. They can be fiddly things when you have to insert them a particular way or swipe them at just the right speed, and we've been frustrated by them more than once.
Thankfully, over at the X Room at the Courtyard Newark University of Delaware, the prototype room where they try out lots of new gadgets on real guests, they are looking carefully at proximity-based keycards. With these, we won't need to worry about inserting them in the right direction or even finding them in our bags: just holding them vaguely near the door should open it, and the X Room people are also considering using this technology to sign restaurant checks and access other hotel services, like gyms or pools.
This is the kind of technology trial that makes experimental rooms like the X Room useful – much better than that distressing running alarm clock that forces you out of bed to turn it off.
There's a very special room at the Courtyard Newark - University of Delaware, part of the Marriott brand: it's called "the X-room". That sounds a bit scary, but in fact it's really fun, because this room contains the new hotel technologies and gadgets of the future.
As part of a research project, potential new products for hotel rooms are trialled here for between 6 and 12 months, with real guests. You can book this room specifically or end up there by chance, but in exchange for being able to try out all these new toys, (like the universal battery charger, digital picture frame, touch-screen climate control) you'll need to fill out some survey information to help the research program.
But that extra bit of form filling sounds more than worthwhile to us. We're intrigued by "Clocky", the alarm clock who runs away from you and screeches louder and louder if you don't actually get out of bed (intrigued, we said, but we don't want one ourselves), and the proposed electronic wine chiller sounds interesting too. And if you have 6:50 to spare, check out this video to see the remote-controlled candles which this guy calls "romantic."
So far, guest feedback has inspired other potential gadgets, for example the development of a voice controlled system for operating the gadgets after guests complained that too many remote controls made it confusing to work out how to operate some of the new systems or products. It also became clear that guests need more power outlets in a room, and better located, so they're working on that too.
· The Hotel Room of the Future is Here at ND [Delaware Online]
· Hotel Technology Coverage [HotelChatter]
[Ed. Note: Hotel Maven AmandaK had the misfortune of visiting Delaware. Usually, we don't post pictures of Hotel Hell but this was necessary. Enjoy.]
Highway Motel Choice Mistake #451: Believing what you read. We learned this lesson the hard way this summer on Route 95. An unplanned overnight stop in Delaware enroute to Maryland had us thumbing through our coupon book, and the Quality Inn University in Newark promised an adjective-laden swimming pool. Steamy weather and a long drive meant a quick dip would've been the perfect end to the day.
We checked in. Ten nanoseconds after handing over the cash, we looked out the other side of the reception office. There was the pool. See the picture, worth much more than my twenty or so words here. We went straight to bed.
The hotel brochure taught us all kinds of stuff about Delaware (sorry, we didn't even know it was the "first state") and even that Delaware's home to some nice beaches. Next time we'll be finding the motel near the beach and not relying on the swimming pool.
· Quality Inn University reviews [TripAdvisor]
The prolific blogger Tim Bray recently glimpsed the future in Newark. Ok, stop laughing, he was in Newark California, not that other Newark.
Tim Bray was staying at the W Silicon Valley this week, which he "unhesitatingly recommends". He doesn't mention the rooms, but he sets the scene in the lobby nicely:
There's WiFi in the bar, so I was online, and the only people there were me at a neatly-sidelit marble table, a geek on one of the big weird sofas also with laptop, and a couple sitting chatting softly to the bartender. There was some soft techno music pulse, just audible. If you'd put this on a movie screen in the 1950s it would have been a totally plausible Sci-Fi future. In late 2004, it's just a glimpse of what more and more transient spaces are coming to look like.
"Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld, So I can sigh eternally"...Looks like that "afterworld" has arrived Kurt, smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley, just as we suspected.