One of My Proudest Business Accomplishments – Courtyard

October 24, 2013
Courtyard 30th Anniversary
In front of first Courtyard in 1983 and a recent visit to today's Courtyard GoBoard

One of our company's proudest accomplishments is Courtyard by Marriott.  The birth of Courtyard in 1983, thirty years ago, is a perfect example of how keeping your eyes and ears open to the marketplace can help you make a good business decision.  Until Courtyard’s debut, Marriott had focused only on full-service hotels.  When we decided to go after the moderate-priced hotel segment, we pulled out all the stops.  We interviewed hundreds of business travelers and asked them what they wanted for a new hotel.  They said we want a better room at a lower price.  I told our people, you mean we spent a million dollars in research to find out that our guests want a better room at a lower price.  Well, that's what happened.  We spent hundreds of nights siting in competitors’ hotel rooms taking a lot of notes about the furniture, the layout and service.  All this went into the design of Courtyard by Marriott. 


Launching Courtyard was a big cultural change.  Previously, we built and operated what we called “big box” hotels with all the bells and whistles.  Little boxes were what “other” companies were doing. We executed a rather startling mind-shift.  Many viewed it beneath us to build a hotel with no room service or doorman.  “Embracing change” has always been one of our core values. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  

Opening that first Courtyard outside of Atlanta ended a three-year journey all shrouded in secrecy.   It was a success because we studied the marketplace, the business travel trends, and listened to our customers.  And they responded.  Today, Courtyard is one the world’s most powerful hospitality brands.  It's our largest brand by number of hotels with over 900 hotels and also the second largest revenue generator in our company.   It taught us the importance of listening to our guests. We found out that they really did want a better room at a lower price.

We haven’t stopped listening to them either.  Our Courtyard lobbies have evolved allowing our guests great spaces to socialize or do their work.  The rooms have been redesigned with moveable desks and new spaces for clothes and luggage.  As we expand globally, our international Courtyard hotels take on many cultural elements from those regions in which they are located.  

We learned some valuable lessons from creating Courtyard.  Don’t be afraid to embrace change.  Courtyard by Marriott is one of our most successful undertakings.  Take a look at the global celebration that took place earlier this month. It truly shows how the brand’s popularity has spread worldwide. Happy 30th birthday Courtyard!


Leave a comment on something you did to embrace change.   I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move. 

Listen to Courtyard 30th blog

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This article was great. For me it holds special interest. In Denver we have a high rated news station we shuttle visitors and clients in and out Denver for. They chose to provide the Courtyard Marriott for passengers staying long term. So it shows Courtyard is providing top quality accommodations. I visit the Courtyard 3 or more times a week and the passengers love everything from the rooms to the lobby.

My father passed away on November 9, 2013. We had made reservations at another hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas, but when we got there their water was off and they were jack hammering in the interior courtyard. We went to Courtyard by Marriott and they not only gave us a room, but because my father was a veteran and it was Veterans Day, we were not charged for the room. I want to thank Zach Bornstein for his kindness. My father was 90, a veteran of both WWII and Vietnam where he received both the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Bronze Star.

Very nice, thanks for sharing.

Wow - 30 years. Quite a success story. Still use our "local" courtyard - now called "Courtyard South Coast Metro" in Orange County California for business visitors. It was the first Courtyard in our area and after a recenent renovation is "better than new."

We stayed at a new Courtyard in the Pittsburgh, PA area last weekend and really liked it. The staff were friendly, the layout of the reception area was great, and we definitely appreciated the breakfast. The room was a little different... think it's the first time I've stayed in a room where the bed wasn't at a right angle to the door, but instead shared the wall with the bathroom. I think our only gripe is that the local Pittsburgh sports channel wasn't included in the tv channel line up!

Someday my wish to be partner with Courtyard by Marriott will eventually become a reality. My dream to experience a hotel brand like Marriott is very inspiring. Congratulations and best Wishes to Mr. JW Marriott, Jr.

Dear Mr. Marriott,

I am probably one of your biggest fans. I was one of your original employees at the Midwest Regional Office for Courtyard by Marriott in Schaumburg, IL. I loved my job in the reservations and sales departments. Later in my life I worked at the Courtyard by Marriott in South Portland, Maine which is an excellent property. Now I live in Edwardsville, IL and I am now working at a Homewood Suites by Hilton. I have a lot of respect for the Marriott brand. Currently, I am reading your book, "Without Reservations". It has so much good information in it. Happy Birthday Courtyard!

P.S. I actually met you at the 100th Courtyard by Marriott grand opening in Highland Park, IL.


Great Brand with great achievements. Wish you all the best, and keep it up guys. Good Luck.