What Marriott’s revamp of Aloft and Element says about the future of select service hotels

by | Jan 30, 2018 | General News, News

Marriott International is working to reinvigorate Aloft and Element, two of the select service hotels in its portfolio of 30 brands

Marriott International is working to reinvigorate Aloft Hotels and Element Hotels, two of the select service hotels in its portfolio of 30 brands.

Aloft Hotels and Element Hotels came to Marriott through its purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. That deal, which happened in September of 2016, cost $13.3 billion, and it brought Marriott 11 additional brands. Now, experts say that the way it’s working to recharge Aloft and Element more than a year after the close of the deal is an indication to how it may handle some of its other brands moving forward.

Marriott’s new work with Aloft and Element may also provide clues into how the biggest hotel company in the world will handle the categories these brands represent—select service and extended stay—in the future. According to industry experts, Aloft and Element hotel owners have given Marriott insight into the biggest problems with the brands, which are construction and property costs models. As a result, Marriott seems poised to focus on smarter room design and streamlined food and beverage service programs.

Aloft and Element Histories

Aloft Hotels and Element Hotels both have a history of pioneering successful hospitality ideas.

Element launched in 2006, and it was part of the eco-friendly hotel movement that was exploding at that time. Element required LEED certification, and it was an extended stay brand that sought to entice long-term business travelers. It largely took its aesthetic cues from Westin.

Aloft, meanwhile, debuted in 2005. It was Starwood’s entry into the growing select service space, and it offered a stylish version of branded boutique accommodations. Aloft choose to offer tech-driven rooms, which set it apart from many others in the boutique space. It also employed fashion-forward design techniques.

Industry experts now believe the brands stumbled because guests were not quite ready for them at the time. Also, the Great Recession hitting in 2008 was a major hurdle. Aloft and Element, experts say, have never lived up to scale. When Marriott purchased Starwood in 2016, there were 116 Aloft hotels and 23 Element locations throughout the world, with Aloft having 150 projects in the pipeline and Element having 73.

Select Service Hotels

In the wake of the deal, Marriott has worked hard to reinvigorate both Aloft and Element. Experts say they were hoping to capitalize on the hotels being positioned in the select service and extended stay spaces. Their small sizes also made them an ideal property upon which to levy changes.

Due to its size, Marriott often acts as a bellwether for the industry at large, and so its work with Aloft and Element may provide clues into the futures of the select service and extended stay markets. Select service Aloft, for example, has moved from a grab-and-go market concept to digital kiosks where guests can order meals in colorful pots, while Element has seen its breakfasts offerings experience a healthy makeover.

So, streamlining food and beverage service is a trend likely to become more popular among both types of hotels. Also, flexibility in layout concept is another, especially as far as extended-stay Marriott is concerned.

Let’s take a look at a few projects currently underway by Aloft Hotels and Element Hotels:

Aloft Chengdu East Railway Station

Element Charleston Historic Downtown


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