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Tallest Hotel in America Opens in New York City

Courtesy Marriott(NEW YORK) -- The hotel being touted as the tallest in North America is open for business in New York City.

The property, located near Times Square at 1717 Broadway, is really two hotels in one: Floors 6-33 are a Courtyard by Marriott and floors 37-65 are a Residence Inn by Marriott. The 68-story building has 639 rooms in all and stands 760 feet tall.

The decision to divide the space between the two brands was a strategic one.

"They are two distinct products that appeal to two different kinds of stays," said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International at a press conference.

Floors that aren't occupied by guest rooms are shared spaces -- a fitness center on the 35th floor, a cafe on the 4th, and meeting and event spaces.

Rooms at the Courtyard by Marriott will cost $300 per night and up and prices at the all-suite Residence Inn will be $350 and up. Both are higher price points than the brands' other hotels around the city. The decision to charge more is due to the enviable location near both Times Square and Central Park, said Harry Gross, president and CEO of G Holdings, the real estate development company behind the project.

"It's an A+ location," said Sorenson. Located on the corner of 54th and Broadway, many rooms have at least partial views of Central Park.

But being the tallest single-use hotel in the nation wasn't the intention. "It didn't occur to us until after we finished," said Gross. "The height was the maximum the square footage could support."

Though Courtyard and Residence Inn are both big-name brands, there are subtle differences that make this particular property stand out from others bearing the same name. Most significantly is the work of renowned abstract expressionist artist-in-residence William DeBilzan who brings "humanity and warmth" to the hotels, said Gross.

Gross added that while the artist-in-residence program is a trial, it might be adopted in other properties. "Let's see if it catches on," he said.

That's not the only thing the new hotel(s) is testing out. The decision to have the shared fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows on the prime 35th floor, rather than relegated to a lower floor, is a new idea. And with it comes a personal trainer on staff, at least for the time being. Jim McCabe, area director of Sales and Marketing for Marriott, said having a trainer is a test trial and unusual to see in these hotel brands.

Another new addition Courtyard brand loyalists will no doubt notice: Keurig coffee makers, something McCabe called "an upgrade."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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