The Fairfield Inn and Suites of Folsom, California, outside Sacramento, looks exactly how you’d imagine a $117 a night suburban hotel would look: It’s clean, shiny, and has adequately modern decor. It’s also the first of Marriott’s prefab hotels, and a harbinger of a major shift in the chain’s business strategy—creating hotels faster, cheaper, and at a high quality by manufacturing their modular components in a factory and shipping them to the site.
Marriott’s second prefab hotel is already being erected in Oklahoma City, and the company anticipates signing up for another 50 factory-built hotels by the end of the year.
The prefab option appeals to Marriott primarily for economic reasons: When building dozens of structures a year, it has the potential to be cheaper and more efficient—especially since the buildings across Marriott’s brands follow essentially the same layout. They also project that the process will cut construction waste from five to six percent of a building’s materials to just two to three percent.
“We’ve seen a lack of high-quality subcontractors after the financial crisis. Contractors and subcontractors left the industry and didn’t come back. What we’re struggling with is a labor shortage and a shortage of quality craftsmen and women who do finished work. The commercial real-estate industry is stretched thin right now.”