Our diverse portfolio of 50+ hotels is spread out across popular travel destinations throughout the U.S.
Our diverse portfolio of 50+ hotels is spread out across popular travel destinations throughout the U.S.
Originally appeared in Hotel Business in January, 2018
Hoteliers had a good 2017〞but what about 2018? Hotel Business spoke with Erik Rowen, VP of development, McKibbon Hospitality; Michael Nixon, president, Innisfree Hotels; Chris Manley, COO, Stonebridge Companies; and Gary Avigne, VP, acquisitions and development, Waterford Hotel Group, to get the details.
Has 2017 lived up to your expectations? How so?
Rowen: Yes, it certainly has. We have been very busy, and despite rising development costs, there are so many exciting things happening in our industry. These include new brand initiatives addressing changing guest needs and advancements in technology in both hotel products and construction management services.
Nixon: Despite the weather that wreaked havoc on our summer season, Innisfree managed to have a modest increase in revenue for 2017. The excessive rain in the month of June put a damper on our resort properties. In addition, media coverage of the multiple hurricanes that made an appearance in Florida and Texas drove many of our customers to other locations. The great news is that we had some pretty aggressive portfolio growth for the year, adding five properties to our owned portfolio and one to our managed properties.
Manley: 2017 exceeded our internal projections in nearly every market. Initially, we had concerns about international travel in our gateway markets and new supply deliveries adversely impacting certain markets. However, inbound travel was better than anticipated and, due to construction delays, new supply deliveries were somewhat muted. This allowed for increased demand to absorb the supply without a material adverse impact on top-line revenues.
Avigne: We enjoyed a productive 2017 with the addition of nine management contracts this year. These include the addition of two development projects with hotel openings slated for 2018. This level of growth exceeded our projections and we are strongly positioned for continued growth in the coming year. Our expectations were tempered as we entered the year based upon what we know are challenges in the industry, challenges that can make growth somewhat difficult.
What are some significant challenges you see in the coming year for hotel owners? What are the major factors that will impact these challenges?
Rowen: Oversupply is certainly a concern. With recent market conditions and the expansion of hotel development and available brands, inventory is still increasing. Due to these conditions, it＊s important to focus on the very best locations within our markets and the very best brands.
Nixon: I think that our challenges for portfolio growth will be in the availability of debt. We are still seeing deals out there and want to pursue them, but likely the challenge will be in financing construction and acquisitions at a reasonable rate. From an operational standpoint, improving bottom line while providing more services will be the challenge. The consumer＊s desire for experiences is not going away, so balancing between providing additional services with investor returns will be the key to success in this area.
Manley: We foresee our primary challenge in 2018 to be labor availability in many of our markets. As an industry, we continue to learn how to do a better job of recruiting and retaining associates who have a committed passion for delivering service and enjoyable experiences to our guests.
Avigne: Even though our new-development horizons have been limited, the reality is that new development is proliferating, which can create another oversupply dynamic in many markets. This can adversely affect the financial performance of existing hotels and therefore moderate the asset value of existing hotels. New supply in limited barrier-to-entry markets will be an ever-present challenge for operators in 2018. Related to this new supply dynamic is the proliferation of new brands, intended to increasingly dissect guest profiles and consumer preferences with nuanced product and service differences. We are all too often competing against our own family of brands.
From an operational perspective, rate aggression in many markets may become challenging in 2018 where new supply has become evident; the need to balance technological innovation with the core concept of hospitality is likely to be an ongoing challenge; and the need to find a way to lower the cost of OTAs by motivating guest direct reservations will continue to be a challenge. Additional challenges to operators include constantly changing brand standards and third-party disrupters.
In looking toward 2018, where do you see the most opportunity for hotel owners?
Rowen: There are many opportunities in the lifestyle hotel segment. It＊s all about finding the perfect fit for the market. Our lifestyle project designs focus on how the property connects with the local community through architecture, artwork, and food and beverage offerings.
Nixon: 2018 looks to be a decent year〞again, with modest increases in both occupancy and ADR. New supply will be a factor in some markets, and in our resort destinations, we are seeing a continued increase in the consumer＊s desire for more experiential hotel stays. Staying ahead of consumers and their desire for these experiences will be a huge focus for us in 2018.
Manley: We project that 2018 will be similar to 2017, and we believe that the best operators will continue to sharpen their labor management and expense controls in order to preserve operating margins and cash flow. The balance is always to enact such measures without adversely impacting the guest journey and overall positive experience.
Avigne: As a somewhat general statement, it seems to us that opportunities are market by market, not necessarily a broad industry imperative. On behalf of our owners and investors, we are focused on identifying economic growth markets, since the need for hotel rooms is based upon demand from guests, and this means economically strong and growing markets for business and industry. Where there is tangible and legitimate economic growth, there will be the opportunity for some new development projects and for the renovation and re-branding of existing but perhaps aging product. We identify these opportunities for owners and investors.
By: Nicole Carlino
Originally appeared in Hotel Management in January, 2018
In 1991, my wife, Rita, and I〞young and seemingly on a prayer〞founded Stonebridge Companies, an ownership, management and hospitality development firm in Colorado. Deriving as a team of two, I still reflect nostalgically on the amount of time we spent in that early period, late at night, analyzing, contemplating and discussing just exactly what kind of company we truly wished to stand behind.
As the son of two immigrant parents, I grew up with little, and therefore I always held the steadfast belief that Stonebridge would only grow as a company so long as we recruited a team of associates dedicated to being respectful of their workplace〞and also committed to giving back to those in their community.
As our company grew, so did our ability to fund and implement programs with schools around the country in order to give back to students who are eager to learn about the hospitality business.
For us, it＊s not about simply creating a program, it is about thinking through every aspect of the people and the places that program will affect. It is always critical that we start with long-term, clearly defined objectives in order to create a long-lasting, synergistic relationship with the schools and within our own company.
I＊m proud to bear witness to the impact on the scholars and the continuous evolution of our programs over time. We have experienced learning curves〞some larger than others〞and are learning from both. However, the successes we＊ve achieved would not have been possible without the contemplation of the following three questions that must be considered when collaborating with a school and its students.
If you＊re a company like Stonebridge and place an emphasis on giving back to the communities in which you serve, then creating a program with a school seems like one of the first places you would look to make that impact. However, doing so seems to be a road paved with good intention, but there is much to consider for both the student and the company, specifically: What kind of experience do you want to give to your employees, as well as the students?
Without proper input and support of the company team, a program can only make it so far. The objective is to instill enthusiasm in your associates so they feel like they are truly part of a company that is helping others get ahead in their young careers.
One of our successful ventures that began with this objective was in 2016 as a result of our collaboration with Washington State University. At the time, we had just ventured into a modular construction project with a Courtyard by Marriott in Pullman, Wash., located on the Washington State University campus. As an alumnus of WSU, I found this project＊s potential to be all the more enticing and hoped it would be appealing to students and Stonebridge associates. As we researched further into the benefits of the practice, we continually asked ourselves how we could best get an objective opinion on the long-term feasibility of this construction method. Once we decided to pursue the modular route, we saw that there was an opportunity to involve hospitality and construction-focused students at WSU, and give them hands-on exposure to a project in the field they had chosen to study.
Recruiting students from WSU＊s Construction Management and Hospitality Management Schools, we challenged them to test our hypothesis that modular construction is a viable method for hotel development in the future. We believed that it had merit; however, we wanted to obtain findings from an unbiased viewpoint and to see what these students would come up with in terms of cost/benefit analysis〞and whether modular construction is sustainable in the long term.
Aside from their findings, the co-curricular course was deemed ※most positive§ as reflected in feedback from the students. They loved participating in a real-life, cutting-edge project that could influence hotel construction and operations into the future. Class sessions were taught on the job site by professionals from Stonebridge, Marriott and the general contractor, and included a multiday field trip to the modular fabrication plant in Idaho. Faculty members from WSU＊s Hospitality Management and Construction Management Schools jointly facilitated the class, which culminated in the presentation of the students＊ findings to the Stonebridge executive team, who benefited from their insight.
Our initial question when establishing an endowment, scholarship or fellowship is always: What are the types of hands-on experiences we can give to students and Stonebridge associates? Is there a way to collaborate so that everyone has the opportunity to walk away feeling the value of working together?
In 2016, we instituted the Stonebridge-Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place Hospitality Scholarship with West Virginia University. We own and operate the Marriott adjacent to the campus of the school, and we had always hoped to create a way to bring in the students. When we caught wind of the school＊s implementation of a Hospitality and Tourism major back in 2014, we knew immediately we had the opportunity we＊d been looking for to create a scholarship. The endowment gave us an opportunity to reward some of the hardworking associates at the university, regardless whether or not they would ever work with Stonebridge.
Working alongside WVU, we established the scholarship with the intention that every student awarded the recognition would obtain the opportunity to work side-by-side with our own Stonebridge associates in order to learn the ropes of what their future career would look like once they had graduated.
Working closely with the university, we were also able to institute many other different learning components for the scholarships, and today, the students＊ experiences include classroom instruction taught by some of our own Stonebridge associates as well as on-site instruction at the Marriott. Students also obtain the experience of working part-time at the Marriott, and the end result is a great experience for the scholars, our associates and our hotel guests. Our philosophy is that when you add various kinds of experiential learning and internship opportunities, you gain graduates that can really make a difference in the industry, no matter where they land in the job market.
In return, our corporate associates also enjoy the opportunity to partner in the classroom, practice good corporate citizenship, and share knowledge and advice with our next generation of hoteliers, and are constantly growing and evolving as part of the company. Additionally, we have the chance to learn from the students as well.
This leads to my next consideration:
Sounds like a no-brainer, but more often than not we see or hear about companies that establish programs with good intention 每 only to drop off once the program is smooth sailing. As the founder of a company, I did not want this to be the case for Stonebridge because I know we can only evolve and flourish with the help of the next generation to guide us. In 2014, we implemented the Rita and Navin Dimond Fellows Program at Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado. While our primary goal when establishing the fellowship was to provide the Fellows with the opportunity to have a realistic, hands-on experience of what working in the hotel business is all about, including attending management meetings as well as experiencing front-line operations in every functional area of a hotel. In turn, we＊re happy to report that the unintended value is that some future hospitality leaders have joined Stonebridge, which has been a clearly great byproduct to the program.
As the program has evolved, we have been in a constant state of refinement. To accommodate the scholars, we have adjusted scheduling compensation, and content. Even more impressive has been the thoughtful perspective on our guest journey from the next generation of travelers and hotel guests.
What works about this methodology is that we truly are able to develop and maintain a working relationship with the students, and in turn, we are open to their feedback about both the fellowship as well as the hospitality industry as a whole. We understand the value of initiating and responding to the student＊s perspective as the industry constantly evolves to meet guests＊ needs. Through this mentality, a mutual trust is earned and the students periodically become valuable and loyal associates, knowing they will be listened to when they provide feedback about both the fellowship and the experience of working alongside our company.
As with some of our other programs, our associates partner in the classroom in order to share knowledge and advice with our next generation of hoteliers while also relaying back to us the ideas that the students develop on their own. This keeps Stonebridge in a place where we can continue to grow and further strengthen our mission and goals.
While there are differences in our hospitality programs at each school, it remains important for us to make sure that we, as an organization, constantly review the goals and objectives at regular intervals within each school. Constant communication is necessary to ensure that we understand student needs, course curriculums, and we align our ever-changing needs of business to ensure the partnership will be successful.
It is a growing and evolving process. It takes commitment, dedicated resources, flexibility and constant follow-through. Without the deep commitment from all our company leaders, we would not be as successful as we are today.
By: Navin Dimond, President/ CEO, Stonebridge Companies
Originally appeared in Hotel Online in December, 2017
DENVER 每 Dec. 22, 2017 每 The Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel, housed in one of the state＊s most famous and historic buildings 每 the former Colorado National Bank Building 每 has announced the appointment of Kelly Wilson as its director of sales and marketing. Wilson joins the team with nearly 20 years of experience in hospitality sales and marketing and a multitude of industry accomplishments: she received the Sage Hospitality Sales Leader of the Year award in 2004, saw year-to-date growth in many of her sales roles and started her own task force consulting company, Bloom Hospitality, in 2008. While Wilson has worked with hospitality organizations such as KPartners Hospitality, serving as a leader in hospitality sales, she is no stranger to the Renaissance Denver Downtown. Wilson was the sales manager and part of the pre-opening management team of the property in 2014.
Most recently, Wilson was the director of sales for Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown where she increased weekend business by 4 percent. The majority of Wilson＊s career has been spent locally in Colorado, where she has served roles ranging from sales manager, director of sales and senior sales manager for various properties including Hilton Garden Inn Denver Tech Center, The Curtis Downtown Denver and Holiday Inn Denver East Stapleton, among others.
※We are so excited to have Kelly return to our team,§ said Michael Damion, general manager of the Renaissance Denver Downtown. ※Kelly has accomplished so much over the course of her career and we love her passion for creating and cultivating relationships with clients and colleagues. She will be a valuable asset to the property.§
At the Renaissance Denver Downtown, Wilson will strive to lead the team in implementing revenue-generating practices that exceed competitive sales objectives. Wilson will supervise and train the sales team at the property and will work closely with Damion to strategize sales and marketing initiatives to maximize hotel revenue.
Outside of her day-to-day role, Wilson is involved in two different non-profit organizations: Rocky Mountain Huntington＊s Disease Association and YES (Youth Education & Sports Fundraising).
Located within downtown Denver＊s former Colorado National Bank building, the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center is housed in one of the Colorado＊s most famous and historic buildings, with a lobby that The Denver Post coined ※the most beautiful room in Denver.§ Awarded by Marriott as the 2015 ※Hotel of the Year§ for Renaissance hotels in the West, the Colorado National Bank hotel features 230 guest rooms, seven of which are suites; 6,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; and a fitness center. Anchored by its award-winning restaurant, range, the hotel also offers guests craft beer and cocktails at Teller Bar, located in its lobby, and the first free-standing illy caff谷 in the state. Imbued with a series of 16 murals from the iconic western muralist, Allen Tupper True, the property showcases historic elements from the building＊s original construction in the early 1900s, set against the accommodations, amenities and comforts of a modern luxury hotel. The Colorado National Bank hotel is ideally situated along the 17th Street corridor, a half block from the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall and a short walk to Union Station and the Colorado Convention Center. For more information, visit rendendowntown.com, follow @RenDenDowntown on Facebook and Instagram, or call (303) 867-8100.
Originally appeared in MSU Denver Insider in November, 2017
Dimond fellowship alum Tristin Lawrence found success in hospitality- from expecting the unexpected questions.
How do you get a luxury car into an elevator?
Aside from the obvious answer of ※very carefully,§ this is the kind of challenge Tristin Lawrence had to find a solution to as group reservations supervisor at the Viceroy in Aspen.
Fortunately, the 2015 hospitality, tourism and events graduate had a secret weapon: experience as a Dimond fellow at MSU Denver.
Established in 2014 through a generous gift, the Rita and Navin Dimond Fellows Program affords participants the opportunity to gain hands-on experience from a paid internship at a Stonebridge Companies property in Denver for a semester. The fellowship is open twice a year to seniors majoring in hospitality at MSU Denver.
※The experience was great,§ Lawrence said. ※You might study something in a book, or even be working in the field already 每 but the Dimond fellowship is what tied it all together to graduate ready and prepared for whatever comes your way.§
Now employed as a sales specialist/manager with Aloft Denver Downtown, Lawrence recalled how her fellowship at the refurbished Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center hotel gave her a comprehensive look at everything from revenue management to housekeeping＊s rationale for placing pens facing the direction they do on the complimentary notepads.
One particular instance left Lawrence both experienced 每 and waterlogged. On a chilly night, a laundry chute blowing cold air caused pipes to freeze in the property＊s basement. The lead engineer arrived right before the sprinkler system was about to burst and hit the emergency shutoff, capping the damage to minor flooding that only required replacing ceiling tiles (and soggy wardrobe changes for the housekeeping staff).
※There was so much standing water as it was, but that [sprinkler system] puts out 30 gallons a minute 每 it could＊ve been so much worse,§ said Lawrence. ※Seeing how things like that are handled, along with reading the control panels and running supervisory procedures with the front desk, was invaluable.§
Another important benefit is the program＊s accompanying professional network. Launching Stonebridge Properties in 1991, the Dimonds have grown the business into a a nationwide innovative hotel owner, operator and developer that boasts more than 50 properties and is headquartered near Denver.
And for Fall 2017 Dimond fellows Blair Swartz, Brittany Collier, Kaylee Crandall and Kenzie Talbot, it＊s an opportunity to shine 每 at a scale that＊s hard to find anywhere else.
※As a result of this experience, I＊m confident in my abilities and have been able to show what I＊m capable of,§ said Lawrence.
On any given day, that might include logistics for a cosmetics company that airlifted in models for a mountain photo shoot. Or turning a hotel lobby into a concert venue.
To this latter point, Aloft regularly hosts live music in its entrance, where bands set up on the floor. Instead of acts playing at eye-level to guests, Lawrence suggested taking advantage of the room＊s split floor setup. By removing two large panels flanking the sides, musicians were able to set up on the makeshift mezzanine to elevate their performance 每 and the audience experience.
※It worked out great; attendees really got the sense of being at a concert, and the band felt awesome playing from the stage,§ Lawrence said. ※My sales director told me, ＆This is exactly why I hired you.＊§
It＊s an unlikely journey from broken pipes to elevating vocalists 每 but for Dimond fellows, it＊s all about expecting the unexpected.
And what about that car that needed to get downstairs?
As the mantra goes, the customer 每 who needed the luxury vehicle on a lower level of the hotel property for a photo shoot 每 is always right.
※We ended up driving it down a mountain path, onto the patio, where we unhinged the doors and maneuvered it to where the client wanted it,§ said Lawrence.
※Every single day is about figuring out creative and better solutions to unexpected problems. And that＊s exactly what the Dimond fellowship is all about.§
By: Cory Phare
Set a pace that suits you at the Residence Inn by Marriott? Boston-Needham. Whether you’re with us for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, your daily routine matters. You’ll thrive at Residence Inn with the conveniences you need. Like spacious studio and one-bedroom suites with separate living and sleeping areas. A fully equipped kitchen ready for your favorite cuisine. Complimentary grocery delivery service to fill your refrigerator and satisfy cravings. Complimentary Internet to keep you connected. Free hot breakfast to start mornings off right and evening reception to end the day well. Enjoy our state-of-the-art fitness center for strengthening your body and soul. Our convenient 24-hour Business Center allows you to stay focused and productive when it’s essential. At the Residence Inn Boston-Needham, we’ll make sure you thrive during your stay.
Residence Inn by Marriott Boston Needham
80 B Street
Needham, MA 02494
Hotel Phone: 781-444-5750
Hotel Fax: 781-444-5751
Originally appeared in Hotel Online in November, 2017
SEATTLE 每 November 29, 2017 每 The 302-suite Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Seattle is scheduled to open this Friday, December 1, 2017. Located at 1815 Terry Avenue, the all-suite Residence Inn Seattle Downtown/Convention Center will operate as a Marriott franchise, owned and managed by Stonebridge Companies of Centennial, Colorado.
Located in the heart of downtown and 14 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Residence Inn Seattle Downtown/Convention Center offers its guests convenient access to the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the Washington State Convention Center. Rates vary depending on length of stay.
※We are pleased with the continued growth of Residence Inn hotels in the Seattle area,§ said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager, Residence Inn. ※When on the road for an extended period, our guests need space to spread out, maintain their life＊s pace and restore their energy to help them maintain a healthy balance and routine while traveling. This new hotel offers them a seamless blend of modern style and functionality that allows them to settle in and thrive.§
Residence Inn Seattle Downtown/Convention Center is an all-suite hotel that offers studio and one-bedroom suites. Guests looking for a revitalizing sleep experience will enjoy the hotel＊s plush mattresses and crisp linens, while guests focused on being productive will value their suite＊s large, well-lit work desk, ergonomic chair and complimentary high-speed Internet access. Designed for stays of five nights or more, each suite also has a fully equipped kitchen with a coffeemaker, microwave oven and residential-sized appliances.
The Residence Inn Seattle Downtown/Convention Center rotates a wide selection of healthy choices at the free hot breakfast every morning. Start with favorites like bacon and eggs, Greek yogurt, cut fruit or waffles and make your choice unique with extensive toppings, ranging from fresh spinach and cheese to sliced almonds and strawberries. Enjoy all the options needed to start the morning with endless possibilities.
Extending the feeling of comfortable living on the road, the Residence Inn Seattle Downtown/Convention Center offers guests inviting and functional public spaces to relax or collaborate. Road warriors and families alike enjoy the hotel＊s grocery delivery service, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour onsite food and beverage market, dry cleaning services, and onsite guest laundry room. The hotel also maintains a business library where guests can fax, copy and print materials. It also provides guests with a fitness center and 7,000 square feet of meeting space.
Home2 Suites by Hilton Anchorage/Midtown is conveniently located in the heart of Midtown Anchorage, near lots of shopping and dining options, and is only three miles East of Ted Stevens International Airport.
Feel at home in a spacious studio or one-bedroom suite at this extended-stay hotel in Anchorage. The flexible “Working Wall” incorporates a customizable working space, adaptable storage options and a contemporary kitchenette – complete with dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and all the crockery and cutlery you＊ll need. Connect to your social network with free WiFi, play music through the media hub, and channel surf on the 42-inch flat-screen TV. Refresh in the stylish bathroom, which features a walk-in shower. Don＊t leave your pet at home 每 they are more than welcome at this all-suite hotel in Anchorage, AK. Join us each morning for free breakfast at our Inspired Table?. Shop for snacks, drinks and essentials 24/7 at Home2 MKT?, or take advantage of our free grocery delivery service.
Make the most of your leisure time at this Anchorage, AK, hotel. Relax on the inviting outdoor patio, which features comfy seating and tables, a fire pit and BBQ grills. Charge your smart device and connect with friends in the Oasis lounge area, and print documents with PrinterOn in the business center. Take a dip in the indoor swimming pool and hot tub, unwind poolside on a lounger, or do some laundry while you work out in our integrated laundry/fitness facility, Spin2Cycle.
Home2 Suites by Hilton Anchorage/Midtown
4700 Union Square Drive
Anchorage, AK 99503
Hotel Phone: 907-561-5618
Hotel Fax: 907-561-5619
The brand new Residence Inn Seattle Downtown/ Convention Center opened December 1st, 2017!
Experience Seattle＊s unique, creative energy from our brand new hotel. Built from the ground up and designed with style, comfort and added amenities, this hotel merges functionality with an urban lifestyle. Maximize your extended stay in our apartment-style suites, with the convenience of a fully equipped kitchen. After an active day of work or adventure in the Pacific Northwest mountains , kick back with friends while enjoying a cold craft beer and local cuisine at our lobby bar.
Our hotel lets business travelers walk just a few steps to attend conferences, trade shows and networking events at the Washington Convention Center. The hotel is only few blocks from Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Safeco Field and cruise terminals. Plus, you＊ll discover why Seattle is the cultural and business center of the Pacific Northwest, just being a few steps to the Capitol Hill residential district, Amazon Campus, Boeing and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Every morning, fuel up for the day ahead with our complimentary hot breakfast featuring the nation＊s best Coffee selection, then check the latest headlines via our free property-wide Wi-Fi. In-between meetings or outdoor adventures, work up a sweat at our fitness center with state of the art equipment. Our hotel offers 4 well-appointed event rooms ideal for social events and professional meetings. Book your stay today and discover the city at the Residence Inn Seattle Downtown.
Residence Inn by Marriott Seattle Downtown/ Convention Center
1815 Terry Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Hotel Phone: 206-388-1000
Hotel Fax: 206-388-0900
Originally appeared in Hotel News Now in November, 2017
Stonebridge Companies President and CEO Navin Dimond talks about his company＊s continued growth and the current state of the hotel industry.
PHOENIX〞The hotel industry is in a different place as far as industry cycles go, according to Stonebridge Companies President and CEO Navin Dimond.
Hotel News Now caught up with Dimond at the recent Lodging Conference to talk about the company＊s growth thus far in 2017 and growth expectations going into 2018.
※I think we＊re in a different place,§ he said. ※The economy in the United States is very mature. ＃ it＊s very similar to Japan ＃ very similar to northern Europe, to western Europe, and we＊re just one generation behind what happened in Japan 25 years ago.§Before Dimond dove into a discussion of Stonebridge＊s success, he answered a question heard often in the hotel industry: ※Where are we in the cycle?§
Japan didn＊t have a population boom ※after the second war,§ Dimond said, like America did with the baby boomers, which is why the current economy is similar to where Japan was 25 years ago. He said he expects to see a period of prolonged growth in the industry.
Watch the video below for more of Dimond＊s thoughts on the hotel industry in general.
Stonebridge has had a busy 2017 so far in terms of hotel openings.
Stonebridge has opened properties in locations such as Washington, D.C., and Boston, Dimond said, and the company has several hotels under construction around the country that fall under brands such as Moxy, the Autograph Collection and Hyatt Place.
※We＊ve got a mix of things going on,§ he said. ※We＊re busy.§
Dimond expects to see more solid growth going into 2018.
※I don＊t see a whole lot of difference in where ＊17 turned out relative to RevPAR growth and how the hotels performed,§ he said. ※I think it will be somewhat similar in terms of growth, and I think ＊18 should be a good year, as well as ＊19.§
written by Danielle Hess
Originally appeared in Lodging Magazine in November, 2017
The acceptance of ※modular construction§ is evolving. USA Today announced in June that Marriott has made the decision to strongly support franchisees＊ use of modular construction in the development of appropriate brands. While largely recognized in Europe, modular construction has been notably slow to take off in the United States, encompassing just 3 percent of all construction in North America. That reality along with the hospitality industry＊s historically low adaptation of the method begs the question, ※What＊s the hold-up here?§
In a world where people constantly look for more cost-effective and timely ways to deliver quality products每whether a hotel project or Apple＊s new iPhone每at first glance, it is curious that modular construction has not already cemented itself as the new norm in the construction and development culture. However, what we have found through our experience with modular construction is that while the concept presents some distinct advantages, it is best used in certain circumstances and environments to achieve those advantages.
What is Modular Construction?
Modular buildings are sectional, prefabricated buildings that are manufactured in a factory and delivered to the job site in modular sections. For a hotel, the modules are typically one room in width and two rooms in depth and include the central corridor. These units are constructed in an enclosed facility where poor exterior environmental conditions do not hinder the construction timeline or quality. When factory production of the units is complete, they are then transported on trailers to the hotel location and sequentially staged for placement to create the hotel＊s upper floors. Erection and placement of the modular units occur rapidly and is completed on most hotel projects within a week to ten days. A significant advantage in comparison to traditional construction practices is that modular construction could deliver units of higher finish quality and consistency.
Modular Construction at Washington State University
Our first venture into modular construction began in 2016 with a Courtyard by Marriott in Pullman, Wash., located on the Washington State University campus. As we researched further into the benefits of the practice, we continually asked ourselves how we could best get an objective opinion on the long-term feasibility of this construction method. Once we decided to pursue the modular route, we saw that there was an opportunity to involve hospitality and construction-focused students at WSU and give them hands-on exposure to a project in the field they had chosen to study.
Recruiting students from WSU＊s Construction Management and Hospitality Management schools, we challenged them to test our hypothesis that modular construction is a viable method for hotel development in the future. We believed that it had merit; however, we wanted to obtain findings from an unbiased viewpoint and to see what these students would come up with in terms of cost/benefit analysis and whether modular construction is sustainable in the long term.
The students participated in a real-life, cutting-edge project with class sessions taught on the job site by professionals involved in the hotel project. Classes included a multi-day field trip to the modular fabrication plant. Faculty members from WSU＊s Hospitality Management and Construction Management Schools jointly facilitated the class, which culminated in the presentation of the students＊ findings to the Stonebridge executive team.
Some of the uncovered results are as follows:
Construction Schedule Compression
Because modular construction accelerates the completion of the building envelope, the overall project can be constructed in less time. The modular construction duration period from start of construction to hotel opening can be 30 percent to 40 percent less than conventional site-built construction. Buildings that typically take 12 to 14 months with traditional construction can be completed with a schedule ranging from 8 to 10 months with modular construction. This is partly due to the potential to significantly reduce site-related delays; the guestrooms are essentially complete upon placement. When properly designed and coordinated, modular construction also has the potential to reduce costs and has been reported to decrease design and construction time by approximately 30 percent to 50 percent with fewer change orders. As with many investment decisions, the ability to deliver product to market, reduce construction carry costs, and get ※heads-in-beds§ faster can significantly improve the property＊s pro forma and increase the attractiveness of modular construction.
Once the modular units are designed and a production schedule is established, there is typically little variance in the production and on-site placement schedule. The controlled environment of the modular fabrication plant eliminates weather delays and subsequent impacts to completion of the building tower. However, the on-site preparation to receive and place the modular units requires careful scheduling and coordination to ensure that the modules are installed in an efficient manner. For a hotel with relatively few guestrooms on the ground floor, it is best to include those rooms in the conventional structure of the ground floor, and use modular units for the upper floors. For hotels with a large footprint and numerous ground-floor guestrooms, having those rooms constructed from modules can be advantageous.
Consistent Quality, Appearance, and Acoustic Performance
Modular fabricators are generally organized to achieve high efficiencies in design and production workflow. Modular buildings also abide by the same building codes as traditional construction. Consequently, modular construction delivers the same or superior quality, durability, and longevity as would be achieved with conventional construction. Since the modules are fabricated with a consistent work crew and staff within the modular factory, there is a great degree of consistency within the rooms in terms of finished quality.
The modules are constructed as individual units, which requires that each unit have separate walls on each side, as well as separate floor and ceiling assemblies. As a result, when the modules are placed side-by-side and stacked vertically, the guestrooms have walls, ceilings, and floors that are of double thickness. It is our expectation that the additional structure and insulation will provide improved acoustic separation between rooms as compared to conventional construction. As a result, we anticipate greater guest satisfaction.
Improved Pre-opening Labor Costs
As previously indicated, the modules are delivered to the site with the rooms essentially complete. During connection of the units and final construction of interior corridors, the rooms are sealed to prevent the incursion of dust and dirt that is produced during the finish work in the corridors and stairs. In this manner, the rooms are kept clean and require less effort to prepare for guest occupancy.
In Pullman, we found that one deep-cleaning pass was needed to get the rooms in guest-ready condition. In conventional construction, three to four passes are required by the hotel housekeeping staff to ready rooms for guests. This represents a significant savings in labor costs, and enables the hotel staff to focus on other aspects of preparing the hotel for opening. The decreased amount of required cleaning also represents further compression of the overall project schedule, allowing the hotel to open sooner than if constructed conventionally.
Where and When is Modular Best Applicable?
What Stonebridge and the WSU students ultimately concluded was aligned with what we had originally hoped for in terms of time effectiveness and quality. However, it is worth noting that the cost-effectiveness of this method is up for debate. Modular construction has a future每and it is here to stay, mostly due to the fact that it is able to save time on projects. From our experience, modular construction works best in terms of cost-effectiveness in an urban environment development where site constraints, logistics, and/or an environment with sub-contractor labor shortages are dominant factors. It should also be noted that modular construction does not lend itself well to all-suite products〞it works best when applied to conventionally sized hotel rooms, due to construction and transportation constraints.
While it＊s a known fact that the employment of modular construction has been historically low in the hotel construction sector, the recent support from Marriott and Hilton may help bring more awareness, acknowledgment, and, ultimately, an embrace of the concept into projects that fit the right criteria and environment. In retrospect, we also concluded that there is potential for further improvement of the modular process both in the fabrication plant and on-site, and that these improvements will increase the long-term viability for incorporating modular construction into future projects.
written by Navin Dimond, Dr. Nancy Swanger and Jason Peschel