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An Up Close Look at The 'Gen Next' Hotel Rooms for Courtyard by Marriott

June 5, 2013 at 1:25 PM | by | Comment (1)

This ain't your daddy's Courtyard by Marriott Hotel!

Back in 2008, Courtyard by Marriott rolled out an entirely new lobby concept that drew guests out of the guestrooms and lured them downstairs to hang out at the Centro bar, nosh at the Bistro cafe and socialize anywhere else there was comfortable seating, which was pretty much everywhere.

From the media pods to the GoBoards which show off news, traffic reports and other pertinent info for business travelers to the almighty free WiFi, Courtyard's lobbies are now sought out not just by business travelers but by digital nomads like ourselves in need of a place to work and a bite to eat. Ok, and maybe a glass of wine too.

But it was only a matter of time before the Courtyard guestrooms would be expected to up their ante. And that's just what happened.

According to Janis Milham, Vice President and Global Brand Manager for Courtyard, guests started to talk of a "disconnect" between the forward-thinking lobby layout and the somewhat traditional guest rooms. So while Courtyard introduces new room protoypes every six years, it became clear that the next renovation of Courtyard rooms had to match what was happening downstairs.

It also had to grab the attention of the next generation of travelers. Yup, you got it--the millennials, who everyone is courting these days including Marriott's other brands, AC Hotels by Marriott which are coming to the U.S. next year and Moxy which will open in Europe.

So what does this next generation want from a hotel room? Well, after a lengthy design and testing process, which Milham said took about a year and a half, Courtyard is ready to show off its Gen Next guestrooms. We were able to peep an actual room prototype over the weekend and here's what we learned:

From their research, Courtyard learned that Generation X and Y travelers want to get comfortable and relax in the guestroom before they get to work.

“Unlike when we started the brand when it was all about getting work done in the room, we now heard from consumers that they don’t necessarily want--when they walk through the door--to have a desk jump out at them, " Milham said. "They want a signal of comfort and relaxation."

Hence, the large, lounge-around sofa where guests can relax right away. When guests do want to work, they don't necessarily want to do it at a desk. That's why the desk can be moved around from out under the TV where it's positioned to the lounge-around chair and even to the bed.

More examples of functional furniture pieces include the "luggage drop" which looks like a rolling nightstand where guests can plop their suitcases. It also comes with two drawers so guests can stash their clothes if they are staying longer than two days (don't worry, there will be a proper closet in the rooms as well.) In the bathroom, there's a "shower nook" which holds towels and amenities so you can access them right from your shower. Behind the bed, the headboard has been replaced with a lit-up mural and most importantly, there's a ton of outlets all over the room. We especially liked the "tech wall" next to the TV where a ledge accompanied a strip of outlets so your gadgets no longer have to rest on the floor.

As for decor, the new look is much more muted than Courtyard is used to. "Gen X and Y have a whole different decor and design preference. What appeals to them is tone on tone, less color pop, and more organic sort of feeling. That’s very different from what we have today because we like to use a lot of color," Milham said, who added that testing was done on customers not in the Gen X and Y range and that they dug the new room look as well.

While Courtyard may not be a place that millennials will seek out on their weekend trips, these new rooms will definitely help get their attention during the week when traveling for business.

So, when can you sleep in one of these new Courtyard rooms? Milham said that any new hotel that opens in 2014 will have the Gen Next room type. Existing Courtyards will slowly begin the renovations with Milham anticipating having 25 percent of the brand with these new rooms by the end of 2014 and half of the brand by the end of 2015.

What do you think of the new Courtyard rooms? Sound off in comments below!

[Photos: HotelChatter]

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Comments from Facebook

Here are a few comments from our Facebook page:

· "Lovly"

· "Wow"

· "looks great, just can't charge too much"

· "How are you supposed to watch tv from the bed? Or is that a computer screen to do work at he desk ?" (FYI: the room prototype we saw was set on a stage so the TV/desk won't be off to the side like that in most rooms. If any.)

· "How much will it cost???????"

· "Nice departure from the intense colors of the past!"

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