As technology has advanced, hotel guests use the lobby in different ways than they did a hundred years ago, so Courtyard Marriott hotels have been busy turning theirs into spaces more suited for today’s travelers.
Late last April we ran a contest giving a lucky reader a chance to experience one of the new lobbies for a weekend and on a recent road trip I got to do the same with my family. We stayed in a Courtyard Marriott in Macon, Georgia, which happened to be halfway between the beginning and ending destinations of our trip.
Marriott has been busy rolling out this same design across the chain though, so no matter which one you check into, you’re more and more likely to see this same set-up. It’s a dream for the wireless worker as well as leisure travelers, striking a nice balance between work and play.
The first thing you’ll notice is probably the serving area, which is a combination bar, snack bar, and restaurant. It serves happy hour drinks at the end of the workday, hot breakfast in the morning, and varying meals and snacks throughout the day. Starbucks coffee is ready when you need it.
Individual booths have their own TV set, something that thrilled my daughter as she found Spongebob to accompany breakfast. The business road warriors staying at the hotel found things to thrill them: good free Wi-Fi and lots of outlets everywhere. No crawling around on the floor for a power source.
There are also two computers any guest can use for free to surf the web or print out a boarding pass. Plus some comfy sofas for watching a big-screen TV or reading a complimentary newspaper or book.
The technological centerpiece of these lobbies is a big touch-screen flat screen that is an information source for the local area. It’s got a big map showing you where local restaurants and attractions are: in Macon’s case it led us to Carrabba’s for dinner. If we’d had more time, I found we could have visited the Allman Brothers Museum or “the Southeast’s largest museum dedicated to the Art, History and Culture of African Americans.” Who knew? The screen also provided local weather (you can also pull up where you’re headed) and news categorized by headlines, sports, and business. It’s a virtual concierge that actually works—no tip required.
In my experience, some city center Courtyard Marriotts are not competitive price-wise, but the smaller city and town ones are often a great value. This one in Georgia was $99 per night before taxes and I could have paid $79 if I’d gone for the non-refundable rate in advance.
We had a nice comfortable room with the usual mid-range hotel amenities, though the walls were thin enough to make out parts of the conversation one room over. The staffers were pleasant and responsive, there was an ice machine, and the free Wi-Fi worked in the room. A small gym had good equipment and had we come in the summer, there’s a nice outdoor pool. I’m looking forward to repeating the experience elsewhere.
Review and photos by editor and travel bargains expert Tim Leffel, who received a gift card from Courtyard Marriott for the purposes of reviewing a property with a revamped lobby.