To speed hotel construction, Marriott International is increasingly using prefabricated rooms that can be stacked like shoe boxes with a crane.
The Maryland-based hotel company — the world's largest lodging business — plans to sign deals for 50 hotel construction projects in 2017 that will use prefabricated rooms, including a hotel scheduled to begin construction this year in Hawthorne.
Modular construction shortens building time and reduces the need for skilled labor at the construction site. The prefabricated rooms are built in a factory, painted and furnished before they are put on a truck and shipped to the construction site.
The practice has become popular in Europe and Asia. In the U.S., industry experts say, the use of prefabricated rooms has just started to grow, spurred by the demand for new hotels and the improved quality of modular construction.
"I think it is something we are going to see more of going forward," said Alan X. Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality Group.
Despite having prefabricated rooms, the designs of the new hotels are not limited to squares or rectangles, Marriott spokeswoman Alycia Chanin said.
"The hotels can look all shapes and sizes," she said.
The first hotel built under Marriott's new modular effort, the 97-room Folsom Fairfield Inn & Suites, opened in December. Marriott has four other projects in various states of completion in Washington state, Oklahoma, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Construction of the 354-room hotel in Hawthorne is expected to be completed in six months, compared with the estimated 20 months needed without prefabricated rooms.