Courtesy of Marriott International

When deciding on group accommodations, which factor wins out—the desire for shared space or the convenience of hotel services and amenities? Last month, at its Innovation Lab in downtown Los Angeles, Marriott International announced a groundbreaking lodging concept that may render the question moot.

A pilot program at the company’s eco-conscious, extended-stay Element properties will give guests a new option that combines private bedrooms with a shared common area. But don’t mistake this offering for a simple suite.

marriott element communal guest roomsCourtesy of Marriott International

Element’s bold communal guest room design will involve a shared kitchen, dining and lounge space surrounded by four guest rooms. For travelers seeking more unique lodging options, the appeal stems from an increase in not only available space, but also flexibility of use. It’s a natural extension of the Element room design philosophy, which mimics that of urban residences through the use of flowing layouts.

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The move addresses a growing consumer demand for unique accommodations. Both business and leisure travelers stand to benefit. Marriott’s target market for communal room offerings spans a variety of customer bases, including families traveling together, athletic teams attending competitions, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and business travelers in need of private collaborative space.

Marriott has not yet announced when the communal guest room inventory will debut, but 2017 is shaping up to be a significant year for the expanding Element brand. This year, Marriott expects to open 14 Element hotels to bolster the existing worldwide inventory, which numbered 23 at the end of 2016.

Modern, forward-thinking Element properties make an ideal testing ground for new innovations. Dually focused on satisfying guests and sustainable operating practices, in 2008 Element became the only major hotel brand to pursue universal LEED certification for high-performance buildings.

At Element, distinctive details abound. Properties feature stylish, sustainable design influenced by the environment, as well as eco-friendly amenities such as loaner bikes and electric vehicle charging stations. Element’s signature Rise breakfast incorporates fresh, healthy ingredients into foods that are convenient to eat, such as smoothie shooters and hot breakfast wraps. Three times per week, guests are invited to eat, drink and mingle at Relax, the hotel’s version of happy hour.