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BETHESDA, Md. — Marriott International, Inc. has announced the comprehensive expansion of its initiative to drive adoption of modular construction of hotels in North America. The company also revealed that it expects to sign 50 hotel deals in 2017 that incorporate prefabricated guestrooms or bathrooms — representing more than 10 per cent of the Select Brand signings expected for the region this year.

“Construction is the next frontier for innovation, and modular is leading the way,” says Eric Jacobs, chief Development officer of Select Brands, North America. “By working with our pre-approved modular partners, owners can open hotels faster, put associates to work earlier and generate revenues sooner.”

With the modular process, hotel guestrooms and/or bathrooms are manufactured away from the hotel site in a climate-controlled factory. Once made, the prefabricated units get transported to the hotel site, where the hotel’s base podium has already been built. The units get stacked into place by crane, at which point workers complete the building on-site including electrical, plumbing and other finishing work.

Though more common in Europe and Asia, the modular method is gaining attention in the U.S. as construction demand across the country eclipses the number of available skilled workers in all real estate classes. Marriott began researching modular construction in 2014 by identifying companies that could potentially manufacture hotel spaces. After a rigorous selection process, Marriott then launched its pilot modular initiative at its 2015 Connect conference. Since then, the company has been working with select early adopters of modular construction for their projects, as well as educating lenders about financing such projects.

So far, Marriott has opened one hotel under its modular initiative — the 97-room Folsom Fairfield Inn & Suites in Folsom, Calif.

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