SUNNYVALE, CA—Despite the recent departure of its CEO, Jennifer Fox, Millennium Hotels and Resorts is moving forward and making its mark by constructing the company’s first new-build project in the United States—M Social Sunnyvale here—slated to open in Q1 2021.
“Now is the time for a new-build in Sunnyvale, CA, as the market is constantly growing,” said Howard Wu, global CTO and president of North America for Millennium Hotels and Resorts, the brand umbrella of global hospitality management and real estate group Millennium & Copthorne Hotels. “With the continued investment into the city by major tech companies, who are building larger and more advanced office parks, there’s increased demand for hotel rooms and meeting space.”
With more than 24,000 sq. ft. of function space—including 11,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space; 4,300 sq. ft. of outdoor space; and 9,100 sq. ft. of public spaces—the hospitality and residential project will open with 250 residences and a 263-room hotel.
M Social will be the first steel-frame modular hotel built in the state. “The group went with a steel-frame modular construction due to the overall quality of construction, durability, lifespan and associated enhanced guest experience over wood construction,” he said. “Steel construction normally includes cement or concrete, which feels sturdier and is quieter. Steel also offers better acoustical performance (i.e., quieter guestrooms).”
Modular construction can be advantageous to the entire process.
“Modular construction has many benefits and efficiencies, including faster build times, enhanced worker safety, reduced construction waste, and less impact on the environment and on neighborhoods,” Wu said.
One of the challenges Millennium Hotels and Resorts had with steel-frame modular construction was finding the right fabricator. “There are very few qualified Type I steel-frame modular fabricators that have successfully built a similar hotel project in the U.S.; however, there are a number of qualified Type III and Type V wood-frame construction fabricators that have built multiple hotel projects as well,” he said. “The company is in the process of evaluating a number of steel modular fabricators and will be issuing a RFP shortly for the full build of the project.”
The project team includes developer Wittek Development; architects Gensler and BDE; landscape architect SWA; structural engineer DCI; engineer BKF; MEP engineer Emerald City; geotechnical engineer Cornerstone; general contractor Palisade Builders; and cost consultant Gardiner & Theobald.
“The Sunnyvale site is visible from Highway 101 and will offer easy on-and-off access from 101 via the Lawrence Expressway,” Wu said. “It offers a highly educated workforce, access to major universities, and is close to key market demand drivers, including the new Apple AC3 Campus and Google Campus being developed in Sunnyvale. Its proximity to major technology companies will attract business travelers from around the globe. The location also has a small lake, which will be incorporated into a landscaped park environment that will provide guests a variety of outdoor spaces to enjoy.”
For the project, there was an environmental and planning review mandated by the city, which Wu considered to be somewhat “rigorous.” To meet the requirements set by the city, Millennium Hotels and Resorts tapped its U.S. development team—consisting of architects, engineers and a variety of consultants—to work with the city.
“Together, they prepared a plan that achieved the company’s operating and financial objectives, and also complied with the city’s general plan, specific plan and ordinances,” he said.
Chairman of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Kwek Leng Beng, a Singaporean real estate and hospitality titan, conceptualized the M Social brand. “M Social is a standout lifestyle concept that embraces technology and allows people to socialize and interact with each other,” Wu said. “M Social in Sunnyvale reflects what the brand is and will enable guests and residents to embrace the innovation and visionary mindset of those living and working in the area.”
Technology is also a large component of the M Social brand.
“The new property will enhance the guest experience with 5G wireless capabilities, providing hotel guests and residents access to the fastest wireless technology available,” he said. “5G provides low latency and speeds up to 100 times faster than the current 4G LTE networks, enabling mobile coverage and capacity expansion at massive scales. 5G gives consumers access to more information faster than ever before and will transform the way people use the internet. The new 5G networks will also be able to power advanced connected machines and devices, as well as virtual and augmented reality. This transformation of industries is producing the Internet of Things, where everything that will benefit from a connection will be connected.”
There are currently two M Social properties—M Social Auckland, which opened this year, and M Social Singapore, which opened in 2016. Slated to open in 2019, M Social Suzhou in China is currently in the pipeline.
Millennium Hotels and Resorts has several other major destinations on its radar for the M Social brand. These top locations include Seoul, South Korea; New York City; and London.
As for the company’s leadership, after three months, Fox left the company in September 2018. “The board will take time to consider and search carefully for the next Group CEO, who must not only have relevant experience, but must also embrace and drive forward the group’s business model as a niche owner-operator,” said the company’s chairman. The company reappointed Tan Kian Seng—who had served as interim CEO, chief of staff and president of Asia prior to Fox’s exit—as the company’s interim CEO.
During the same month, Millennium Hotels and Resorts made several appointments to its leadership team: Erik Anderouard to SVP of North America; Jeremiah Galvin to VP of finance of North America; and Tony Lee, VP of human resources of North America.
“As for initiatives in 2019, we want to make a big splash with our three-year global partnership with Chelsea Football Club,” Wu said. “With a focus on Europe, China, Southeast Asia, North America and the Middle East, this exclusive partnership will give My Millennium members and all corporate customers access to once-in-a-lifetime football experiences, including exclusive access to Chelsea FC home and European matches, along with VIP match-day hospitality at Stamford Bridge, access to see the training facilities at Cobham and other ‘close-to-the-action’ experiences.” HB