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Old May 29, 05, 3:22 pm   #1
 
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Fairfield vs. Courtyard

Hello,

I am getting a little confused on the positioning of Fairfield Inn vs. Courtyard.

It seems with both you get:

- 10 points per dollar
- free internet
- similar room, bath and bed
- USA Today

with Courtyard you get:

- 10 points per dollar on additional charges to the room (laundry, etc.)
- nicer paid breakfast
- glass/ceramic cups in room
- microwave/refrigirator in suites (you can get upgraded or pay more per night)
- more likely to have a computer with printer in the lobby for free use
- WSJ

with Fairfield you get:

- free not-as-nice breakfast
- plastic cups in room
- microwave/refrigirator in some rooms (you can get upgraded or pay about $10 more per night)
- less likely to have a computer with printer in the lobby for free use

So, isn't Marriott killing Courtyard with these two very similar products? I recently stayed at a few Fairfield Inns and did not think they are so much worse than the Courtyard (and some tend to be newer). (A few years ago, I tried it once and thought it was really a step below CY.) In one case (Naperville IL), the FI is $60/night cheaper than the Courtyard right next door - even on business trips, I just can't justify the difference.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.
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Old May 29, 05, 4:31 pm   #2
 
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Apart from your summary, which is fairly accurate, Marriott has put some money into Courtyards lately. I've stayed in a couple with really nice beds, decor, etc. Fairfields are more like a Super 8, Motel 6 or Holiday Inn.

They've pretty much copied the competition with positioning. Take Hilton for example:

Fairfield = Hampton Inn
Courtyard = Hilton Garden Inn
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Old May 29, 05, 4:55 pm   #3
 
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Yeah, interesting...I thought CY is more like HI minus free breakfast. Never stayed at an HGI - there does not seem to be so many out there.

The HI rooms seem to be brighter and the nice touches like the curved shower rod and easy to use alarm clock make you feel that they are more innovative.

The Courtyard upgrade seems to go really slowly. I stayed at my first renovated CY in 2003 and it seems most of them are still nowhere near getting upgraded. Some seem to have partial upgrades - the new "red" color scheme sofa but nothing else (even beds) seemed to have changed. The bed is nicer after some upgrades but I was disappointed that they did not make the bathroom better ... and those cheap looking doors just don't seem to go with an upgraded room.

In the case in Naperville IL, the Hampton is right across the street and the pricing was:

Courtyard (newly renovated) = $149
Hampton Inn = $99
Fairfield Inn = $89

Amazingly, the full service Hilton down the road charges less than the Courtyard. Courtyard is heavily booked even at that price.
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Old May 29, 05, 4:56 pm   #4
 
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I think you miss the bigger positioning - Fairfield Inn's are both less expensive to operate and price less (given everything else being equal) vs a courtyard in the EXACT same location. Each is designed to compete with a different segement of the hotel market.

Price branding is very common.

Billy
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Old May 29, 05, 7:18 pm   #5
 
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Lately I have been finding if my option is a Fairfield Inn (i.e. no other properties close by or priced right), I go to other chains. The Fairfield Inns are such a low quality you won't find me there any more!
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Old May 29, 05, 8:19 pm   #6
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I think their are some situations where a Courtyard and a nearby Fairfield are fairly comparable properties. And the OP may have encountered several of these situations recently. However, it total, Courtyard is a superior product to Fairfield.

I've found that the Courtyard product is much more consistent. While you do occassionally find one that's a bit rundown, for the most part they are relatively nice, have a nice pool and workout area, etc.

Fairfields, on the other hand, are much more of a crap shoot (and I'd put Hilton's Hampton Inns in the same boat). You may luck out and find one that's real nice. Or you could reserve online and find yourself in an exterior-corridor dive.

My impression also is that the construction quality of Fairfields is a notch below Courtyard. So, if you compare a new Fairfield to an old Courtyard, the Fairfield may be comparable, or even better. But, give that Fairfield 5 years, and it'll be in the same shape as the 20 year old Courtyard down the street.
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Old May 30, 05, 7:33 pm   #7
 
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I to find Farifield's very spotty. Out of five Fairfield Inn locations I have tried, I'd perhaps stay at two of them again. Out of those two, one of them only when the client's budget was extermley low. On the flip side, I have stayed at 10+ Courtyard locations. While some have been better than others, with one exception I stay at them all again. For the one I wouldn't stay at it, it is now undergoing a renovation, so I'd give that location another shot again in the future. In general Courtyard quaility is good to very good and consistency is good. Fairfield is very variable from scary to good. Also, CY's tend to have a higher percentage of business travelers and as a result tend to be more quite.
Finally, you only get points for incidentals (i.e. room charges) at full service properties (e.g. Marriott or Renaissance). Neither Fairfield nor Courtyard are in this category. My two cents..

--Jon
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Old May 30, 05, 10:06 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yyzflyer
They've pretty much copied the competition with positioning. Take Hilton for example:

Fairfield = Hampton Inn
Courtyard = Hilton Garden Inn
They've copied with positioning, but in this lower end segment Marriott really trails behind Hilton. On the other hand, the full service Marriotts and Renaissance properties are consistently good, while full service Hiltons and Doubltrees are not as consistent.

Given the choice of a Fairfield or Hampton, I will generally take the Hampton. Your run-of-the-mill Courtyards are _way_ below the standards of the Hilton Garden. I agree with the OP that the Courtyards don't offer that much more than the Fairfields in terms of amenities. There are exceptions, of course, and I have stayed at Courtyards that had full service bar/restaurant service and upgraded bedding - but that is the exception rather than the rule.
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Old May 30, 05, 11:57 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yyzflyer
Fairfield = Hampton Inn
Courtyard = Hilton Garden Inn

Please allow me to correct you...

Fairfield = Dump
Courtyard = Modestly Acceptable
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Old May 31, 05, 7:31 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yyzflyer
They've pretty much copied the competition with positioning. Take Hilton for example:

Fairfield = Hampton Inn
Courtyard = Hilton Garden Inn
I disagree. I would say 9 times out of 10 a Hampton beats a Fairfield and a HGI beats a Courtyard. The HGI have become my favorite properties. They are generally new, have microwaves and mini fridges in all rooms, and as a Diamond I get free breakfast along with 5 bucks to spend in the pantry.

I do agree that the difference between CY and FI is becoming less defined. Remember when Courtyards actually had courtyards?
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Old May 31, 05, 5:46 pm   #11
 
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Nobody mentioned room size yet, so I'm not sure this is universal based on my sample size of one. At the one Fairfield Inn I've stayed in (Mission Viejo, CA) - the room was noticeably smaller than any Courtyard I've ever stayed in.
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Old May 31, 05, 7:08 pm   #12
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This lowly silver will pick CY over FI every time, all things being fairly equal.
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Old May 31, 05, 8:24 pm   #13
 
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The very fact that there is a question demonstrates the problem. FI is just where it should be, a quality economy product. Unrenovated Courtyards, by and large, have fallen a cut below the competition (and the competition shouldn't be Fairfield). Too many times I have chosen a Courtyard out of Marriott loyality, knowing I was getting an inferior product. From what I've seen in other threads, the renovated Courtyard product is fine. I've just never seen one.
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Old May 31, 05, 9:00 pm   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcook052
This lowly silver will pick CY over FI every time, all things being fairly equal.
And this lowly silver will pick SpringHill Suites over the both of 'em, all things being fairly equal.

SHS combines a better room size and FI's free breakfast with a lower-than-CY price. And they're all less than 10 years old. Huge amounts of FI's and CY's were built before 1995.
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Old May 31, 05, 9:13 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DenverBrian
And this lowly silver will pick SpringHill Suites over the both of 'em, all things being fairly equal.

SHS combines a better room size and FI's free breakfast with a lower-than-CY price. And they're all less than 10 years old. Huge amounts of FI's and CY's were built before 1995.
Out of curiosity, how many SHS are there compared to the other two prooducts being debated here?
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