Element Hotels has debuted an apartment-like lodging option at its properties, a room category called Studio Commons. It's an option aimed at small groups who might typically book stays via home-sharing sites: The Studio Commons category consists of four private guest rooms, a full kitchen and communal living space, allowing for group gathering within a private setting.
The new layout made its first appearance this past June at the new Element Scottsdale at SkySong, in Arizona, followed by the Element Boulder Superior, in Colorado, in July. The Studio Commons category will also be bookable at new Element properties opening in the next year in Sedona, Ariz; California properties in Sacramento and Ontario, and Minneapolis. The layout is expected to be integrated into all new Element Hotels signed after the first quarter of 2017.
In the case of the Scottsdale and Boulder hotels, each of the four guest rooms is a studio suite with king bed, with each room connected via a private corridor to the communal kitchen and living space. The Boulder property has four Studio Commons units available.
Marriott International's Element flag is positioned as an upscale, extended-stay, boutique-style brand -- a category that generally faces competition from Airbnb and similar home-rental sites, particularly for leisure groups booking a stay of at least several days. A survey Marriott conducted in conjunction with the Studio Commons announcement bears that out, noting that 23 percent of respondents in the United States search for both hotel and home-rental options when seeking lodging, and that 27 percent of respondents live in a different city than their childhood or college friends and family, and must travel to see each other.
While marketed in large part to groups of family and friends, the Marriott announcement likewise touts co-worker collaboration as a potential use case. Anecdotally, groups of co-workers have increasingly considered home-rental options when traveling together for major events -- particularly in cases where hotel rooms are in short supply for those events. It will be interesting to observe how such groups make use of the Studio Commons at Element Hotels, and whether that will fuel any similar initiatives among other Marriott brands.
Such initiatives aren't yet in the works for other brands, according to Toni Stoeckl, vice president, Distinctive Select Brands at Marriott International. At the moment, "it is an exclusive feature for Element Hotels, mainly tied to the fact that Element is an extended-stay product," he explained. Element offers both longer-stay and transient rooms, he added, with the transient room types being used to create the Studio Commons setups.
Studio Commons communal spaces will range from 600 to 650 square feet, while the guest suites themselves will each range from 250 to 280 square feet. All Element hotel amenities are available to Studio Commons guests, including use of the saline swimming pool, fitness center, Bikes to Borrow program, complimentary Rise breakfast and Relax evening reception with complimentary wine and beer.