Bands, filmmakers and tech startups weren’t the only people angling for attention during South by Southwest.
The Courtyard by Marriott chain of hotels chose the festival to debut its top-to-bottom makeover — a multimillion-dollar project that will, over the next several years, transform guest rooms at each of its nearly 1,000 properties.
By the end of 2014, about 150 of those properties will sport the new look. That includes a mix of under-construction locations as well as existing hotels that are due for regularly scheduled remodels.
Courtyard has six locations in Austin, as well as sites in New Braunfels, Round Rock and San Marcos.
During SXSW, the hotel chain set up shop outside the downtown Courtyard, located at 300 E. Fourth St. near the Austin Convention Center, inviting festival-goers to step inside a travel trailer featuring a full-size mockup of the new rooms.
It was the first stop on a year-long tour that will see the trailer roll into cities across the nation during major events.
“We’re breaking out of the box,” Courtyard spokeswoman Nina Herrera-Davila said. “We’ve never activated at South by Southwest before, but we felt this was the right place to kick things off because this is the exact crowd we’re targeting. This is our new look designed for the millennial traveler.”
To accommodate the new generation of business travelers, the updated rooms have plugs for high-tech gadgets virtually everywhere you look, including on most every piece of furniture. They also feature custom sofas and carpeting in muted shades of gray and gold designed to soothe travelers after a long day on the road, Herrera-Davila said.
Lobbies are also being tweaked, with a goal of creating a more open and welcoming atmosphere. Several Central Texas Courtyards already sport the new lobbies.
“This is all based on research, listening to what travelers want,” Herrera-Davila said. “The feedback here at South by Southwest has been overwhelmingly positive.”
(c)2014 Austin American-Statesman, Texas