Courtyard by Marriott installs 'lobby' at Hartsfield-Jackson

It's out with the old and in with the new — lobbies, that is.

Courtyard Marriott, Marriott's largest brand, has installed a "Refreshing Business" lobin the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said Daniel Hernández, spokesperson for Edelman Public Relations, which represents Courtyard Marriott.

The lobzone recently opened and will be operating 24 hours a day, until Nov. 14, said Jerry Clement, spokesperson for the lobzone presentation at Hartsfield-Jackson.

"Courtyard Marriott wants air travelers to experience the new design and sample amenities that can be found at 190 Courtyard hotels across the U.S., which has received rave reviews from business and leisure travelers," said Hernández, in a statement.

"We're bringing the replicas to places they [travelers] congregate, to make them aware of what Courtyard [Marriott] is doing to enhance the guest experience," Clement added.

Hernández said other lobzone locations include Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Denver International Airport.

"Guests who have stayed in Courtyard [Marriott] hotels with the Refreshing Business lobhave raved about the new concept," said Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager of Courtyard Marriott. "Our goal with this lobzone program is to make travelers who have yet to experience it aware of our new product, and what better way to reach these travelers than at major airports."

Clement added that most of Courtyard Marriott's customers are business travelers.

"We chose it [Hartsfield-Jackson] because it is one of the busiest hubs," said Clement.

Hernández said some of the lobbies at the airports feature amenities such as private media booths with high-definition TVs, ample electrical outlets so guests can plug in and charge cell phones and laptops, and flexible seating options, including a communal table.

Another feature provided in airport lobbies, Hernández said, is the brand's interactive GoBoard® technology, which is a 55-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) touchscreen loaded with local news, business and sports headlines from USA Today.

"Guests can also navigate the touchscreen mapping feature to find restaurants, local attractions and print directions," Hernández explained.

"It acts like a virtual concierge," Clement added.

Clement said the lobzone will also introduce its guests to the bistro which will be housed in the actual hotel lobbies, providing them with menus.

"They are going to be experiencing the concept ... they are going to be able to experience everything they would get at the hotel with the exception of food," Clement said in a phone interview.

Jerry Skinner, a passenger at Hartsfield-Jackson, said he approached the lobzone to satisfy his curiosity.

"I didn't know there was a touchscreen," Skinner said as he completed a survey about his experience. "I like the couches, the tan color."

Clement said there are currently about 195 Refreshing Business lobbies opened at Courtyard Marriott hotels across the country. The first lobopened in 2008, at the Courtyard Fairfax Fair Oaks hotel, in Fairfax, Va., said Clement.

the end of this year, the hotel's franchisees will spend nearly $190 million on new lobbies in nearly 260 U.S. and international Courtyard Marriott hotel locations, said Hernández. The brand expects to have new lobbies in 500 U.S. and international hotels the end of 2011.

"2012 they all will be done," added Clement.

Clement said there are roughly 880 Courtyard Marriott hotels in 35 countries.

Clement explained that Marriott conducted focus groups for its Courtyard Marriott brand, from 2005 to 2007.

"They wanted a choice, a more contemporary place where they can sit, eat and connect," Clement said.

Clement said the new lobbies are more inviting, and more guests are checking into their rooms, and coming right back to the lobarea to take advantage of the environment.

Clement said there are two Courtyard Marriott hotels near the Atlanta airport, but the new lobbies have not yet been installed. At Courtyard Atlanta Airport South/Sullivan Road, located at 2050 Sullivan Road, College Park, the new lobwill be installed January 2011. The Courtyard Atlanta Airport North/Virginia Avenue will have its new lobin place December of this year.