Marriott Corp. said it will begin offering franchises for a limited number of its Courtyard hotels.

"As we look forward to the development potential of the brand through the 1990s and the opportunity to increase distribution, now is an ideal time to franchise Courtyard," said Michael R. Ruffer, executive vice president and general manager of Courtyard hotels.He said Courtyard will target "proven hotel operators and developers who understand the business, have demonstrated their ability to run quality operations and have the desire to grow their own lodging holdings in partnership with a growth- and quality-oriented organization like Marriott." Courtyard joins three other lodging brands within the Marriott Corp. that currently offer franchise opportunities: Marriott Hotels, Resorts & Suites; Residence Inn, an extended-stay product; and Fairfield Inn, the company's economy lodging entry.