Marriott Pioneers Building Blocks to Fast Growth

Marriott Development’s secret for scaling hotel development fast? Preassembled modular construction at a grand scale. The premade guest rooms can shave as much as six months off a 12- to 14-month schedule. Once transported to the site, crane operators lift them onto a base podium foundation and contractors connect the electrical, plumbing and minor finish work.

Tharaldson Hospitality Management opened the first one, a 97-room Fairfield Inn & Suites in Folsom, California, in December 2016. Four more modular hotels are under way—Courtyard Pullman in Washington, AC Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, AC Louisville in Kentucky and AC Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

Eric Jacobs, chief development officer for Marriott’s Select Brands in North America, explained to Digital Trends that the company has plans to build as many as 450 hotels this year and some 10 percent—50 properties—could take advantage of the modular approach in the near future.

“As construction costs are at a peak, it’s a real challenge to find good, qualified subcontractors based on the general building boom that is happening throughout the United States,” Jacobs said. Building off-site in climate-controlled factories not subject to weather conditions could alleviate some of the logistical concerns and reduce costs by mass-producing standardized blocks. It also allows Marriott to better monitor the quality of the building before it is even put in place.

Modular building for the hospitality sector is an idea adapted from development already being implemented in Asia and Europe. Marriott International has preapproved three sources—Guerdon Modular Buildings in Boise, Idaho; Champion Commercial Structures in Detroit; and Oldcastle Surepods in Orange County, Florida, to make the process as streamlined as possible. The innovation was featured at Marriott’s Connect 2017 conference in Los Angeles for hotel developers.