There are a million ways to judge the economy and uncover how life is improving, or not. How about numbers that indicate business travel is improving somewhat. That’s an important barometer! The upcoming Fall market will tell.
One hotel brand is not sitting by and waiting for guests to fill their dining room. That would be Marriott’s Courtyard brand. Not one to do commercials for a property or a restaurant, I still need to applaud the new bistro concept. The re-energized approach has solved a number of problems, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
As an aside it should be noted that I have eaten in a broad-range of hotel restaurants run by famous chefs and those that exist merely to service guests. Not all are destination restaurants and many hotel chains have gone out of their way to dismiss the dining experience at hotels.
What used to be pro forma for a Courtyard has changed. All new properties are designed with an open feel and dining is no longer the boring breakfast buffet, but a bistro-type experience that extends its offerings into all meal parts. Staffing needs are minimal depending on the time of day, and guest requests are easily served.
The breakfast restaurant/buffet concept has been replaced by a much more user-friendly approach that incorporates a grab-n-go philosophy with a limited hot order menu. Another plus is that service is available through the three meal parts, and tables are ready with free coffee urns ready to make any wait a more pleasant experience.
How about several computer stations adjacent to the table space and a more casual adjacent living room! All pluses and major improvements over the older format.
Why does this work? First off, the food options are manageable in terms of execution and price. If you want a cup of fruit or yogurt, that’s an option just as a scrambler breakfast choice. For those who have special coffee needs, ahem, me, they can make a Starbucks espresso or cappuccino, or your favorite combination. No need to take your money out of house!
Concepts are only as good as the times. The times have changed. More travelers are on limited travel budgets with greater receipt scrutiny. The Courtyard’s open environment makes such an adjustment a pleasant one.
Now if they would only change all of their older properties into this new, more welcoming approach with its accessible food option, then the words hotel and restaurant would not be approached with a scowl.
This proves it can work, and the traveling public has an affordable food-friendly option.