The Whitbread Hotel Company's 390-bedroom London Heathrow Marriott is its first new-build hotel, procured to a tight timescale using extensive prefabrication and within a fixed budget of £56 000 a bedroom. The result is Marriott's flagship for the UK

<B>Client's brief</B>
After forming a partnership with Marriott in the UK in 1995, the Whitbread Hotel Company implemented a programme to refurbish and upgrade many of its existing hotels. Whitbread is also looking to add several new hotels to the chain. The London Heathrow Marriott is its first new-build hotel, and is set to become Marriott's model for the UK.
For the London Heathrow Marriott, Whitbread wanted a 390-bedroom four-star hotel with major conference facilities and a leisure centre, together with associated restaurant/bar facilities and parking for 270 cars. This was to be procured within a fixed budget and to a specific timescale.

<B>Procurement </B>
Laing had an established partnering agreement with the Whitbread Hotel Company, so Whitbread invited Laing to assist in its bid for the site. As Whitbread's partner, Laing underwrote both the proposed construction period and the construction costs on which the successful bid to purchase the site was made.
The project team was selected jointly by Whitbread and Laing. The design team was employed directly by Laing under a design-and-build contract, with AYH employed by Whitbread as cost consultant. Although inexperienced in hotel design, epr partnership was chosen for its track record in efficiently designed commercial buildings.
Several major cost planning and value engineering exercises were undertaken to ensure that the project was managed within the overall pre-determined budget. Each subcontract package was tendered by Laing to an agreed list of subcontractors, with subcontractor selection signed off by Whitbread.
Rapid procurement was a high priority for the client, which required a start on site in April 1997 and completion before the end of 1998. Work began before completion of the detailed design in the knowledge that the team was committed to delivering the project within budget. Prefabrication also helps to cut development time.

<B>Design</B>
The six-storey building was designed to be vibrant and contemporary to match the dynamism of the airport environment, and also to exude hospitality.
To make the Marriott stand out from the crowd of airport hotels, full-height glazing was placed at the front of the hotel, together with distinctive lighting and an architectural canopy. Guests and passers-by can see through into the hotel atrium, which provides kerb appeal and a welcoming atmosphere.
The five-storey atrium, which goes deep into the hotel, continues the distinctive exterior theme with its use of timber and stone and gives a striking first impression of the hotel as guests enter the space.
Each bedroom has an internal gross floor area of 65 m2.
The hotel has a good-size leisure facility on the ground floor and conference facilities for up to 500 people on the first floor with separate bars and kitchen.
Unlike most hotels, the back-of-house area, which includes staff rooms, kitchens, laundry and other ancillary areas, was designed to work efficiently as an integral part of the hotel. Staff can move around the hotel out of the way of guests. Room service, laundry, goods and guests all have their own lifts. Likewise, building services run within service corridors and have minimal impact on guest areas.

<B>Construction </B>
To keep within the short development programme, several construction elements were prefabricated and all were value-engineered.


  • Tunnel-form construction was used in the upper bedroom floors to produce structure, internal walls and finishes in one operation. Whole rooms are cast in concrete in standardised metal formwork, a faster process than traditional construction; considerable savings were made by omitting plastering to the internal cross walls
  • Prefabricated bathroom pods were manufactured in Denmark to maintain quality for all 390 bedrooms and to speed up construction on site
  • An existing aluminium cladding system was adapted by epr and supplier Luxalon to create storey-height panels that allowed a flexible erection programme while also incorporating sophisticated recess details. Overall unit cost was less than £250/m2
  • Stairs were precast in concrete for speed and quality.
  • A bedroom mock-up was built on for testing alternative finishes and detailing
  • A service duct mock-up was built to test rapid installation and easy access for future maintenance

<B>Cost commentary </B>
Laing's underwritten construction price of £21.8m was a major factor in Whitbread's securing the site. Although a landmark quality hotel was planned, at £56 000 a bedroom, the cost was significantly lower than the benchmark costs of similar quality hotels. The total cost includes design fees and Laing pre-contract costs that equate to £4050 a bedroom.

At-a-glance guide

Marriott Hotel, London Heathrow Project New-build, 390-bedroom hotel including leisure, conference and ancillary facilities. The four-star hotel is set to become Marriott's UK flagship. Client Whitbread Hotel Company, partner of Marriott Hotels in the UK Location Alongside Heathrow Airport, on Bath Road Total budgeted project cost £27.21m, of which £21.8m was for construction work and design fees Unit construction cost £862/m2 construction and design fees £55 927 a bedroom Cost and procurement constraints 22-month development programme from planning consent to operational hotel. Fixed-price construction budget established at site acquisition. Form of contract Design and build (unamended JCT81) within a partnering framework.

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