Marriott’s New Construction Initiative

Marriott has announced a large expansion to its initiative to drive adoption of modular construction of hotels in North America. Popular in Europe and Asia, modular construction is slowly being introduced in the United States. The first property to be with a modular design was the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Folsom, CA. Marriott’s new construction initiative calls for 50 more hotels to be built with modular construction.

Marriott Modular Construction Basics

The basic premise of modular construction is that a building is constructed in modules off-site, then delivered ready to be placed. Think of a bunch of pre-manufactured homes easily stacked together like lego blocks. Furthermore, manufacturing hotel off-site allows several key benefits that typical site built properties don’t including:

  • Delays due to weather
  • Elimination of local labor shortages
  • A fixed, skilled, experienced labor force
  • Streamlined engineering & permitting process due to standardized designs

As a result, you can see how modular construction is an attractive option to franchisees. The first property to use modular construction, a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Folsom, CA opened a full two months ahead of schedule.

Folsom Fairfield Inn
Photo Courtesy Marriott (Folsom, CA Fairfield Inn & Suites)

What’s really neat about the modular process is that it’s not just a shell that’s delivered to the site. Each piece includes a fully built out hotel room and portion of the corridor. Furthermore, each room already includes key features such as a desk and bed. Here’s a cool time lapse video of the process from Marriott:

Modular Hotel Challenges

For the most part, modular design is a slam dunk for lower end properties. It’s probably best for the category 1-5 type places we get to stay with our Marriott Rewards credit card free night! As a result, you won’t see modular construction for the next big Ritz Carlton. The major challenge I see with this design is with local jurisdictions. Town planning departments are often slow to adapt to change. Seeing a modular design come across their desk might raise several questions. Additionally, cities and towns could frown upon the lack of local labor utilized on each project.

Bottom Line

I think this is a smart move by Marriott. Attracting franchisees at a lower level is key to unit growth. Anything that can help them open faster, and cheaper could be the difference between choosing Marriott over another brand. Do you think modular construction is poised for growth in the United States?

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