I always thought the buffet was overpriced, so I rarely made use of it. I like the convenience of the Bistro, but I despise the corporate sameness it's placed across the brand. I'd rather deal with a Courtyard that had nothing but the bar from time to time just to get back to some regional uniqueness at the various properties. Basically, the Bistro drives me out of the hotel to find something a little different. I think it would be more attractive if they allowed some individual property discretion on some of the food & alcohol choices, say up to 25% of the menu, to allow for each property to showcase things that are local or regional specialties. In other words, give me a reason to eat & drink there instead of any other generic national chain. I've gotten much anecdotal commentary from other travelers and Marriott associates along the same lines; they're finding fewer guests staying in lately. I'm sure that corporate has the beans counted to prove me wrong, though.
Well said. And another piling on comment: don't we want to see what an area that we've never been to has to offer in the way of food and drink? Paso Robles CA, for example, has a nice CY, but there are so many dining and drinking choices within a mileit would be a shame to confine yourself to just that hotel.
I agree with you, nuhusker. The breakfast sandwiches are pretty good. I usually avoid buffets where everyone can "mishandle" the food. But at Fairfield & Residence Inns, you have no choice. Springfield Suites has buffets too, I believe I have noticed, however, that the staff keeps a close eye on the buffet & the turn-over of fresh food is fairly quick..
I hate the new bistro: slow and expensive to eat a balanced breakfast. I will now stay at a Springhill or Hilton Garden Inn to avoid Courtyards with bistros. Since my hotel decision usually involves 8-10 others in our group, this costs Courtyard a lot of money. Someone in corporate really missed the boat regarding the new bistro breakfast concept.
We like the buffet much better! They are quicker, cheaper, and have more healthful options. Much more family friendly too. Too bad Marriott spent so much money on these changes. Why break something that is working. There are several other threads on the dislike of the Bistros on the forums, as well as this one.
A partial update, supplement, and/or clarification:
I (still) much prefer the breakfast buffet and, for that reason, stay at Courtyards only when there isn't a breakfast-included option.
Having said that:
ss -- I still eat at Air Force Dining Halls when I'm close to one when I travel. I've never been to one that is buffet style. They are all cafeteria style...the food is served by the chow hall staff, not self serve other than the drinks and now in the modern age, the salad bar which never existed during my time. But that is beginning to be a long time ago.
i do like the new concept. In stead of a dining room that is empty most of teh day and served average food now you have an open area that you can meet people for business , have a coffee at all times or just go down and work so to me it becomes a mini Stanbucks. and available to grap a light meal at all times
Unless it's in Europe where they usually give you breakfast anyway, I simply won't stay at Courtyards. Not only because of the breakfasts (and yes, I prefer buffet over bistro, which if ever there was a wrong use of the French word this is it) but because points spent on any other amenities do not count toward MR points. So while the CYs in Europe are better, the point values work out the same (except maybe the Rome Central Park Marriott CY, which sometimes offers almost a complete bed & breakfast & dinner rate). There are few Fairfields in Europe that I know of, but I'd stay there any day before a CY because you get breakfast and the full x 10.
Good point, Prof C - I've had good luck with European Courtyards, particularly in Paris and Vienna. Both were a little out of the way, but on the METRO/streetcar system, the prices were terrific, and the neighborhoods were pleasant and quiet. Compared to the typical downtown choice in those cities - between very expensive or sub-standard rooms, both were a nice surprise.
More broadly, however, there are plenty of places in the US where the Courtyards are simply the only game in town or more conveniently located. (For example, the new Courtyard in Newark is in a great spot - for access to the train station or the sports arena. If you need airport access, however, the airport Marriott is simply in a different league - but that truly is an airport hotel, which is great if that's what you need it for.)
Consistent with Prof C's observation, however, staying at a Courtyard does make you feel that Marriott (or Courtyard) does not value its loyal (let alone most loyal) customers....
Hate the CY bistro! Enjoy the buffet, since I'll choose the omelette made to order (and if not, a pre-peeled hard boiled egg that's underneath a dome, and a whole wheat - when I can get it - bagel that's also underneath a plastic dome, both handled with tongs. The coffee and juices are not sneezed on. The scrambled eggs, potatoes, and sausages/bacon are usually in covered chaffing dishes that are difficult to open (heavy lids, and hard to serve, keep the cover open and hold your plate at the same time - only two hands for three functions) and so usually stay covered/protected between servings. So what I'm basically saying is that I don't see the CY buffets (of yore) as particularly nasty. I will admit that it would be nice if any other items that sit in the open (like fresh fruit, cottage cheese, etc.) would be put behind a raised glass partition as they are at buffet style restaurants so that patrons can't breath on them.
As far as visiting with colleagues, would rather sit in a nicely appointed lobby.