You are here

World's tallest modular hotel set to rise in Manhattan

Marriott International's 26-storey AC Hotel is expected to rise in 90 days and open in 2020

BT_20190420_HOTEL20_3759100.jpg
"Our goal is to move the industry. Cost and time are really important to owners and developers. It's about speed to market." - Eric Jacobs, Marriott International.

New York

THE world's biggest hotel company is betting that factory-built guest rooms are a key to juicing revenue - and helping guests get a better night's sleep.

Marriott International is laying plans for what it says will be the tallest modular hotel in the world, in Manhattan's NoMad neighbourhood.

Its 168 guest rooms will be assembled in a factory in Poland, shipped overseas and trucked into New York in the middle of the night, when the city streets can accommodate the oversized loads.

sentifi.com

Market voices on:

The 26-storey AC Hotel is expected to rise in 90 days and open in 2020. Marriott wants the tower to serve as a beacon to developers, lenders and factory owners.

"Our goal is to move the industry," said Eric Jacobs, the chief development officer for the company's select-service and extended-stay brands in North America. "Cost and time are really important to owners and developers. It's about speed to market, and any time we can move that needle, it's good for everybody."

Hotel companies like Marriott would like to ramp up modular construction because it can help them open new properties faster, a key path to increasing revenue. The method saves time because builders can do site work while rooms are being built in the factory, Mr Jacobs said.

Modular construction isn't exactly new in the hotel world, but it's unusual enough to give many developers pause.

Financing can be difficult to come by because the projects require more upfront expense than a traditional building, according to Sanat Patel, managing partner at Avana Capital, which is providing a US$65 million construction loan for the NoMad project.

At the same time, manufacturing capacity is limited, and many of the existing factories are busy building hospitals, houses and student apartments, said Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Modular Building Institute, a trade group.

A shortage of construction labour that has led to longer development times has made the factory-built model especially appealing. Marriott has been offering financial incentives for modular projects and connecting developers with architects, contractors and lenders in a bid to spur the effort on.

The AC Hotel is being developed by Concord Hospitality on behalf of owner Robert Chun. Mr Jacobs said that within five years, modular construction could account for 25 per cent of all hotels in his pipeline, which includes North American outposts for brands like Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield Inn & Suites.

The benefit for guests is that factory-built rooms are quieter. In traditional construction, a hotel room usually shares a wall with its neighbour, but modular designs typically call for an insulated gap between rooms.

"That means my collateral is really valuable, because it's done better," said Mr Patel. BLOOMBERG