Built on a former rail yard that is now home to a mall and an armada of office buildings and luxury apartments on 600 waterfront acres, the Courtyard actually marks the Queens-based Lefrak Organization's first venture into the hotel business.
"The Courtyard will be an essential element of our master-planned Newport community," said Jamie LeFrak, who shepherded the hotel development.
At the opening were Samuel J. LeFrak, head of the Lefrak Organization, Mayor Bret Schundler and Rep. Robert Menendez (D-13th Dist).
The Courtyard is set up to serve some of the residents living in the neighboring high-rises, said the hotel's management.
The hotel's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hotel is looking to attract residents of the adjoining towers for its weekend brunch, because, Blanc said, "There are very few places to eat" in the Newport area.
The 10-story edifice stands higher than the usual two-story Courtyards around the country. The Jersey City hotel has been open for business since Nov. 6.
The LeFraks and general manager Louie Blanc said they expected New Yorkers to use the hotel, but also expected to serve the current and future companies of Newport: Chase Manhattan, Paine Webber and U.S. Trust, among others.
"Common sense was we were going to get overflow from Manhattan," said Blanc, "but a lot are coming from Jersey City."
Blanc said the hotel is at 92 percent occupancy and that when the hotel officially opened for business on the first Monday, it sold out all its rooms for Thursday, Friday and Saturday within two hours.
Newport worked to recruit homegrown staff, said Blanc. Sixty-five percent of the workers are Jersey City residents. Eighty-five percent, he said, are from Hudson County.
The hotel took visitors on a train stop tour last week.
At "Hudson River Station," as the green-lettered white sign announced, was the hotel's indoor pool. Diving is not recommended, as the pool reaches depths of only five feet.
"Jersey City Station" marked the exercise room, "Pavonia Station" the king-size suite, and "Hoboken Station" the one-bedroom double.
The Courtyard has space for two meeting rooms that can hold up to 80 people. Andrea Grassi, a hotel sales coordinator, said that a "Renaissance auction" has already booked the room for the week of Dec. 5.
Rooms at the Courtyard run from $99 to $219 per night plus tax, depending on the day of the week and time of year, according to Blanc.
The Courtyard joins the 200-room Doubletree Club Hotel, which opened its doors in 1998. Other hotels will be joining the fray, including The Candlewood Suites, between Newport and Exchange Place, an "extended stay hotel," with 160 business and 54 one-bed suites.
The 350-room Hyatt Regency is set to open in 2002. In addition, developer Peter Mocco is planning a major hotel for his Liberty Harbor North site.