Finance & DevelopmentDevelopmentBreaking Ground: The Bay Area's First Modular-Build Hotel

Breaking Ground: The Bay Area’s First Modular-Build Hotel

Yesterday’s ceremony at the Home2 Suites by Hilton San Francisco Airport North wasn’t just a regular groundbreaking–it marked the first modular construction hotel in the Bay Area. Instead of building from the ground up, this Home2 Suites will be built piece-by-piece. Cranes lifted pre-fabricated modules together at the ceremony, and guests were able to tour a full-sized room model.

Construction time for a modular build property differs significantly compared to a traditionally-built property, Adrian Kurre, global head of Home2 Suites by Hilton, says. Modular buildings can be constructed in half the usual time, so owners see a return on the investment quicker than a normal build. Kurre says, “We don’t have to talk owners into anything with Home2 Suites. Owners are sharing information with each other because they love this brand. When it comes to the rooms’ shapes, sizes, amenities, and attributes, they see the return on their investments.”

Modular construction is done at an off-site, controlled location by putting pieces of a building together in ‘modules,’ like a puzzle. Those pieces are then brought to and assembled on-site, allowing for faster construction time without sacrificing quality. Building modularly works particularly well in saturated locations–like the Bay Area–where time and labor is limited.

“Construction costs and labor are proportionately higher in these markets,” Kurre says. “It’s especially high in high-barrier-to-entry markets. If we can get this open earlier than a normal construction process, it will definitely increase the return on the investment.”

Getting owners the biggest return on investment is especially important for an extended-stay, midscale brand like Home2 Suites that bills itself as operationally efficient.

Once the Home2 Suites by Hilton San Francisco Airport North has completed its construction, it will participate in sustainability efforts to meet Hilton’s brand standards. Fifty percent of the hotel’s energy will be powered by solar panels, and a bio-retention pond will filter water. Additionally, the property will keep up with Hilton’s sustainability efforts by recycling soaps and shampoos.

With all the typical Hilton facets, guests of this Home2 Suites by Hilton may not even realize the difference in construction, as the rooms will be exactly the same as a typical Home2 Suites. But if this construction helps make owners’ money more quickly, more hotels in the brand will complete this process in the future, Kurre says. “If the process of producing modular construction and the return on the investment is a positive story, then it is a hard trend. This is something we’ll see more of as long as it has that return on owner investment.”

Robin McLaughlin
Robin McLaughlin is associate editor of LODGING.

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