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Emerging Brands

Restaurant-less Marriott chain adds hydroponic gardens

Guests can harvest the produce if they want to cook in their in-room kitchens. The herbs and vegetables will also garnish the complimentary breakfast service.
Marriott hydroponic garden
The tower-style hydroponic setup can produce as much produce as a 40-square-foot traditional garden plot. / Photo courtesy of Marriott International

Marriott International’s Element Hotels chain is adding hydroponic gardens, even though the properties don’t sport a true restaurant.

Instead, the produce will be available for guests to use as ingredients in meals they prepare in their rooms. Each accommodation comes with a kitchen area.

The hotels will also provide recipes that incorporate the fresh herbs and vegetables. The dishes will be localized to the host hotel and its growing season. The recipes are being drafted by Michelin award-winning chef Sammy Monsour.

In addition, freshly plucked greens from the gardens will be used by the hotels’ cooks as garnishes for Element’s free breakfast.

The addition of a vertical hydroponic garden fits Element’s market position between long-term-occupancy all-suites properties and traditional hotels targeted at travelers looking to stay just a night or two. The new gardens are touted as a way for health-minded guests to stick with their better-for-you eating habits while on the road.

The tower-style hydroponic setup can produce as much produce as a 40-square-foot traditional garden plot, according to Marriott. Each measures about 1-square-foot in floor space and will apparently be positioned in the lobbies of Element hotels.

They are being provided to Marriott through an agreement with Lettuce Grow, a company that specializes in hydroponic gardening systems. It was co-founded by Zooey Deschanel, the film, TV and recording star.

Element is one of the younger brands among the 30 lodging chains that Marriott owns. About 84 of Element’s 102 properties are located in North America.

Other standout features of the brand include what’s called a Studio Commons, a living-room-like space shared by the occupants of four bedrooms, and Borrow a Bike, a program that allows guests to use bicycles provided by the property. Dogs are also welcomed at all properties.

Marriott is the largest innkeeper in the world, with more than 8,200 properties operating under 30 brand names.

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