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The Future is Here? Modular Hotel Units as a New Era in Hospitality

The recent years have brought quite a bunch of new travel trends into vogue. No, this time, we are not talking about ubiquitously upgraded hygiene measures (even though those are equally, if not more, important) or the gradual replacement of the labor force with automated solutions, and not even about the recent ‘great resignation’ in the hospitality industry. Today, we would like to focus on the travelers’ appetite for innovative accommodation types, unexplored destinations, and the increasing demand for more sustainable experiences. Many startups have put their energy into satisfying at least one of those aspirations, while the New York-based Moliving shows a clear ambition to fulfill all three.

A hospitality industry newcomer, Moliving offers something quite compelling, especially for millennial travelers and hotel brands targeting this audience: modular, prefabricated 400-square-foot (37 sqm) pods with a bedroom, bathroom, and two balconies. The solution is certainly green: the units are not built into the ground and can be easily relocated without damaging the land. The deal should look especially interesting for seasonal properties, as such pods could accommodate the demand spikes and falls throughout the year.

The company is an innovator in its field. Despite a high degree of mobility, the startup pays extra attention to the feel of luxury, focusing on high-level design, technology, and function. As such, Moliving founder and developer Jordan Bem aspires to democratize the luxury hotel industry and allow asset owners to make their hospitality investments efficient, scalable, and timeline-friendly.

“No one has managed to marry luxury with mobility,” Bem says. “We call ourselves a hybrid between ultra-luxury and mobility spaces. If you look at the mobility competitive set, guests are staying in an eight-foot-wide RV or Airstream whereas Moliving’s units are 11.9-feet wide, 12-feet tall, and 45-feet long which feels like a luxury suite instantly elevating the experience.”

Eager to roll his product out, the first Moliving units will be installed in eco-resort Hurley House, located in New York’s Hudson Valley region, which will start welcoming guests in 2022 and feature around 60 pods. Hurley House will become the much-awaited example of how Moliving will be working elsewhere in the world. Specifically, landowners and future hoteliers are supposed to form a joint venture with Moliving, who will bring the units, operations, design, and guest experience to comply with the highest possible service standards, while the landowner will provide the land and minor permanent infrastructure.

“Moliving brings in the units, brings in the management services, and reservation system,” Bem explains. “Everything that a traditional Marriott would bring to the table. The idea of us providing all the services is we can control the outcome. If we control the outcome and we know for a fact that this is a five-star hotel.”

The pods are designed and engineered in-house. The solution also promises to be fiscally viable: with the total cost per unit reaching $150,000, Moliving’s offer is two to three times cheaper than a comparable four- or five-star product. Could it be that this start-up has found the right balance among functionality, design, and eagerness to lower the environmental impact of the business? It certainly sounds so, and hopefully, we will be able to check that for ourselves in the coming year.

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