Last week, I braved Atlanta’s infamous rush-hour traffic to drive across town for an event at the Courtyard at Marriott Atlanta Perimeter Center hotel. The celebration was the culmination of a daylong global party commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of Courtyard hotels. For it was in Atlanta back on October 15, 1983, that Bill Marriott Jr. opened the very first Courtyard property. Today, just three decades later, Courtyard has grown to become the 12th largest hotel brand in the world, with more than 900 properties in 38 countries.
After the usual smoozing, cocktails, and party foods, Janis Milham, the senior VP of Marriott modern essentials and extended stay brands, spoke to the crowd and presented a video chronicling the history of Courtyard on a giant screen overlooking the candlelit pool. It recounted brand milestones like the year Courtyard went global (1989), the year they reached 10,000 rooms (2005), and the year they opened their 800th hotel (2009). The video also touched on Courtyard’s latest initiative, a major room redesign called Cynergy that will be making its debut in hotels across North America in 2014. Designed with the millennial, or Gen Next, traveler in mind, it is the result of numerous focus groups and studies and consists of a flexible room configuration with multiple outlets, ports, and storage for all of the electronic gadgets they’re so fond of. It will also appeal to their desire for more neutral tone-on-tone interiors accented with pops of color.
When it was his turn at the microphone, David Marriott, COO of Marriott’s Americas Eastern region (and the son of Bill Marriott Jr.), recalled, “I was 10 when Courtyard opened. Courtyard started a brand new hotel segment for Marriott—and really the world. Thirty years later, it is an incredible global brand.”
The brand’s ascension over the years to become what is now the second most profitable brand in the $12 billion Marriott hotel empire just goes to show that Bill Marriott was right when we said, at the opening of that first Courtyard back in 1983, that “From the smallest acorns, mighty oaks grow.”