Inside Marriott’s Secret Hotel Room Design Bunker

Jun 16, 2017

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To describe the facade of Marriott’s current headquarters as “nondescript” would be generous — this building’s as boring as they come. In fact, it’s so ordinary-looking that it didn’t even occur to me to snap a picture when TPG and I visited earlier this week.

Inside, it’s a different story — well, sort of. You’ll find row upon row of open-office workstations, but there’s also a funky treadmill-desk meeting room and an impressive test kitchen where chefs prep multi-course meals for the chain’s top bigwigs.

Marriott's treadmill meeting room.

But the real fun is in the basement — well, actually, one level below that. It’s where you’ll find Marriott’s Interior Design Innovation Lab and its master of ceremonies, Vice President of Design Deborah Huguely.

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It’s in this 9,000-square-foot space that Marriott develops concept and prototype guest rooms for each of its 30 hotel brands (including those inherited from Starwood). I’ll walk you through a few of the rooms on display, but the lab’s greatest innovation is something Marriott calls “the igloo” — an enclosed 360-degree virtual reality room that makes it possible to experience a variety of spaces, from an individual suite to a new and improved hotel lobby. It’s like walking inside an Oculus Rift — the igloo is really a hoot.

Then, down the hall, you can actually see these designs come to life, in the many sample rooms.

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Most of the rooms are fully assembled, but our first stop was a Sheraton room still under construction.

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Then, TPG got to hang out in a Four Points room — definitely looks like a big step up from what you may experience at many of the brand’s out-of-date hotels!

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Our next stop was a Delta Hotels room — Marriott’s recent(ish) Canadian acquisition.

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Then we got to see a swanky AC Hotels room — it certainly made me eager to give that brand a try.

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TPG even got to do his famous “shower test” to see if his 6’7″ frame would fit inside. Success!

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Finally, we stopped by Springhill Suites, a brand that TPG became very familiar with during his childhood. It’s certainly come a long way.

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Then, at the end of the space is a sample Marriott Experience Room, designed to represent the “experience” a customer will have in any given hotel room. You’ll notice that this certainly doesn’t look like your typical Marriott Hotel room — check out TPG’s walkthrough below:

What’s next for Marriott HQ? Fortunately for the company and its employees, Marriott’s in the process of building a fancy new headquarters just a few miles down the road. Hopefully the suite of sample rooms will be coming along, too.

Which Marriott brand are you most familiar with?

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