8th Jan 2008
This is the world's first recyclable Travelodge, made of 86 high strength steel modules resembling shipping containers, stacked on top of each other and securely bolted together. When finished, the giant Lego style structure will look and feel no different to the budget chain's other 330 hotels in the UK, Ireland and Spain.
The Verbus modules are then shipped from China with the bathrooms, plasterboard walls and the 'first fix' of electrical points already in place. Once installed at the site, windows are fitted, the modules are decorated and furnished, and then the exterior of the building is cladded.
Paul Harvey, Travelodge's Director of Property & Development, said: "Although it may not look like a hotel right now, the containers will be fitted out to include everything we offer in the rooms at a traditionally-built hotel - a comfortable bed, en-suite bathroom, wardrobe, mirror, desk and chair, right down to the plasma TV and free tea and coffee making facilities. You simply won't be able to tell the difference."
The new Uxbridge Travelodge will have 120 rooms and a Bar Cafe - an ideal location for customers to have breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Customers will be able to spend the night in the eight-storey modular hotel in west London from June for just £19 per room, per night. A second, larger hotel is already under construction at Heathrow, scheduled to open at the end of the year.
However, because the modules are made of steel, the hotel has the potential to keep on giving, even at the end of its life. The design means that the hotel can be dismantled, and each module removed from the site. If the modules arent re-used, they can be re-salvaged to release the valuable commodity's equity.
The modular hotel is also being tipped to revolutionise accommodation offerings at festivals or major sporting events due to the ease and speed in which buildings can be put together and taken apart.
Paul Harvey commented: "Travelodge is all about making hotels available to more people than ever before and this construction method has the potential to change the face of hotels as we know it.
"It could facilitate the creation of hotels on a temporary basis to open in times of peak demand in certain locations - such as festivals or major sporting events.
"A temporary structure to fit such a need would differ to the design of a permanent hotel but it could be built in as little as 12 weeks and removed quickly at the end of the event when the need is gone.
"Using modules to build Travelodges will allow us to open a hotel faster than traditional construction methods allow, creating cost efficiencies which we can translate into more low priced rooms for consumers."
The modules, manufactured specifically for the task in China, create a spacious, well-insulated and architecturally exciting development.
Verbus Systems - a joint business venture between consulting engineers, Buro Happold and constructor, George & Harding has developed its unique modular construction system over the last four years. The manufacture of the modules has been outsourced to the global market leaders in the production of shipping containers in China.
Mark Allies, Managing Director of George & Harding added: "Despite the logistical and physical constraints of the Travelodge Uxbridge site, George and Harding have demonstrated the flexibility and adaptability of the modular system. The modules are cost effective yet durable, easily transported, stackable and reusable and make absolute sense for businesses like Travelodge, as well as student accommodation and urban housing."
Colin Harding, Chairman, Verbus Systems: "The Verbus System is the first major advance in construction technology for 100 years, since the introduction of the steel frame. We have been very impressed by the forward thinking approach of Travelodge in engaging in new approaches seen in other industries to deliver cost, time and environmental benefits to their growth targets."
Two different sizes of container are being used at the hotel, creating double rooms, which measure 5m x 3m - and family rooms, which measure 3.5m x 6m. Disabled access and ambient rooms are also available, as at other hotels in the Travelodge estate.
In the future, the modules will be fully fitted in China, arriving furnished and ready to go when they reach their destination.
A traditional 100-bed hotel costs Travelodge around £5 million to build. Construction using shipping containers reduces costs by up to 10 per cent, making the bill for a hotel of the same size around £4.5 million.
Using Verbus Modules also shaves approximately 25% off construction time, meaning a 100-bed hotel can be built in 30 weeks, instead of 40.
The budget hotel chain plans to build approx 40 hotels each year to 2020 - and believe up to half could be constructed using the modular system.
The first budget hotel brand to launch in the UK in 1985, Travelodge now operates 330 hotels (over 22,500 rooms) - nine in Ireland, three in Spain and the rest in the UK. Travelodge plans to grow its estate to 70,000 rooms (approximately 1000 hotels) by 2020 and aims to be the biggest operator in London by the 2012 Olympics with over 7,000 rooms in the capital.
Six and a half million people stayed with Travelodge last year and 83% of reservations are currently made online at travelodge.co.uk where room prices start from £19 per room, per night. The chain employs 5,000 staff and is owned by Dubai International Capital, who acquired the organisation from Permira in 2006. In April 2007, Travelodge announced the first stage of a new online retail strategy when it became the first UK hotel company to launch a Travel Insurance product.
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