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Dual Branded Marriott Makes ‘Super’ NY Debut

A new $320 million Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott reaches new astonishing heights in New York City.

Monday, February 03, 2014
Jeff Heilman
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While the Seattle Seahawks emphatically claimed the Vince Lombardi trophy yesterday, select service leader Courtyard by Marriott, now in year three of its multi-year sponsorship of the NFL, had its own crowning moment one month earlier with the debut of the Courtyard New York Manhattan/Central Park—billed as the tallest ground-up hotel in the Western Hemisphere.

Rising 760 feet—the maximum supportable height from its 100 foot x 100 foot base--the 68-story tower, costing $320 million to build, combines a 378-room Courtyard hotel on floors 6 to 33 and a 261-suite Residence Inn hotel on floors 37 to 65. Shared spaces include the lobby and check-in; 35th floor fitness center with outdoor sundeck; seven sub-level meeting rooms; and Courtyard’s sumptuous Bistro on the fourth floor. The third-floor dining area is reserved for Residence customers only.

Janis Milham, Marriott International’s Senior Vice President, Modern Essentials and Extended Stay, explains the significance of, and strategy behind, the dual-branded triumph, the first of its kind in New York.

“To have an iconic building in New York’s most iconic district, on Broadway between Times Square and Central Park, is a real jewel in the Marriott crown,” says Milham, who attended the tower’s ribbon-cutting on January 7 along with Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson and other dignitaries. “Plus, the visibility of combining two category-leading brands in a location that serves so many people in such a significant city is a huge win.”

While not appropriate for all markets, Milham says, the dual-brand model is eminently justified for this special spot in Manhattan. “The economics of building on such a small site dictate that you go straight up,” she says. “Combining the two products maximizes the value of the investment while optimizing ongoing operational profitability through various synergies and economies of scale, such as the common spaces, shared sales and maintenance teams, one general manager and for the most part, the same management team.”

Featuring increasingly spectacular floor-to-ceiling views of Central Park, Midtown, the Hudson River and beyond from its upper floors, the stylish property is also distinguished by striking paintings and murals custom-created by acclaimed Expressionist William DeBilzan in the lobby, classy Bistro and other areas. Another distinct element? This was the very first project in NYC to secure construction financing (from Wells Fargo) in the aftermath of the 2008 downturn, when the capital markets were otherwise paralyzed.

The timing of its arrival could not be better. As revealed at the opening by Fred Dixon, interim CEO of NYC & Company, the city’s tourism bureau, Gotham continues to experience runaway tourism growth. Expecting to reach its 2015 target of 55 million annual visitors in 2014, supply, once tight as a drum, will reach 100,000 rooms this year. With occupancy and room rates the strongest in years, Nixon observed that, “the city is finally getting the number of rooms it needs.”

Marking Marriott’s 35th flag in the city, the tower underscores the enduring prominence of the brand and its diverse portfolio in Gotham’s tourism success—including making its debut as New York and New Jersey hosted of the first outdoor Super Bowl of the modern era.

On Friday, kicking off Super Bowl weekend, the hotel hosted a party for guests, customers, suppliers and Marriott rewards members, with a similar event at the Courtyard on Herald Square the night before the big game.

With New York Giants quarterback and two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and NFL Network’s Rich Eisen on hand, the festive Friday night gathering was a fitting showcase for both the new property and Courtyard’s continuing relationship with the NFL.

After Manning and Eisen riffed about the Super Bowl and engaged in Q&A with the crowd, Mike, an Irish businessman and Marriott loyalist, booked into the hotel for a week with his family while on business, shared his view on the new property. “On average, I stay with Marriott around 70 nights a year, including most recently in Dubai,” said Mike, a globe-trotting facilities manager. “This new tower in Manhattan is definitely in my top five.”

Milham, who was at the party along with Sorenson, describes “our best year yet” with the sponsorship.

“As our metrics continue to bear out,” she says, “aligning football—which we know our target customer, the hard-working business traveler, cares strongly about—enhances the guest experience in a way that is unique and fun, creating a strong emotional connection, or ‘love quotient,’ which in turn only deepens customer engagement.”

Continuing, Milham says that “with programs such as our Monday and Thursday night tailgate parties at Courtyard properties, the customer has now come to expect football-related activity and the welcome break from the grind that it provides.”

Following the success of its various programs in New Orleans during Super Bowl 47, Courtyard took a different approach for New York City and New Jersey.

“In most cities, the Super Bowl takes over, but with hotels and inventory to spare and more ground to cover in NYC, we expanded recognition and awareness efforts with large-scale efforts such as branding four hop on, hop off tour buses with Courtyard and NFL messaging,” explains Milham. “All metro NYC Courtyard properties offered cider and hot chocolate welcome events, and we used social media to drive our ‘Greatness on the Road’ program, including sweepstakes for ‘best guest on the road’ and recognition of top USA Football coaches. It’s all about keeping the ‘love quotient’ high, and this relationship continues to be very successful for us.”

Like the Seahawks, it’s a winning team-up that’s hard to beat.
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Jeff Heilman
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Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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