Element, inspired by Westin, is a limited service, extended stay hotel brand of Marriott Hotels, targeting health and environmentally consicous travelers. Hotels are built to green standards and offer healthy breakfasts instead of donuts and bike shares instead of sports in the bar. There are less than 40 properties worldwide so far, but they tap into a trend in the Western world. Find out more, who Element is, what the brand promises and what experience to expect!
Who are they? Element was launched in 2006 by Starwood as the first US hotel brand intended to be energy and water efficient, meeting green standards, offering environmentally conscious travelers a targeted choice. The first Element hotel opened in 2008 in Massachusetts, followed by the first international property in Canada in 2013. Today, there are 36 hotels open for business and 81 under development, making it one of the smaller brands within Marriott. In Marriott’s brand architecture, it’s considered an upscale, It’s considered a “distinct select” brand in the upscale, extended stay segment, a more stylish alternative to the Residence Inn brand.
Brand Promise: According to Marriott: “Inspired by Westin, Element® is transforming the extended stay segment with bright, modern design, eco-conscious practices and an innovative guest experience that resonates with today’s traveler. From spacious guest rooms featuring fully equipped kitchens to spa-inspired bathrooms, guests have space to live their lives. Element is a smarter, better place to stay.”
What experience can I expect: My first stay at an Element property confirmed some of the design guidelines: My room had hardwood floors, light wood wall panels and a mix of light and darkwood furniture, with a few color accents. It’s a very Scandinavian look & feel and it’ll fit right into California or Seattle, too! It did have the oh-so comfortable “Heavenly Bed” Westin is known for and had other upscale touches like thick, fluffy sheets and modern amenities like USB ports and a bluetooth speaker by the bed
The focus on fitness was confirmed with a pool, gym as well as yoga und zumba classes and mountain bikes available at no charge.
And that’s where the brand promise ended. The Element by Westin Ubud is not an extended-stay hotel and rooms have no kitchen. While that makes sense to me in Ubud – I wouldn’t want to cook there myself either – I was surprised by this significant change for the brand. It’s unclear whether this is a one-off exception for the first Element hotel in Indonesia or a long-term change for the brand now under Marriott rule. That change seems to also impact the name – with “Element by Westin”, “Element inspired by Westin” and “Element” all present on different Marriott websites! I have reached out to Marriott marketing and will update this post with what I find out.
The breakfast isn’t included either and there was no happy hour like at US properties and that’s a bigger miss in my book. I’d probably unhappy if I’d walk into a Holiday Inn Express and be charged for breakfast.
Bottomline: Element is a hotel brand that fits the trend of people wanting to feel more at home when traveling, kind of like the anti-airbnb. The decor and the ecofriendly approach should be popular with the target demographic. I certainly enjoyed my stay, would not hesitate to stay again and will even actively seek Element properties out – that’s about the best a brand can do!
While I personally don’t mind the kitchen-less Element Ubud, I do expect extended stay brands to deliver consistently, because I don’t want to find out on arrival that a key feature is missing because I didn’t read the fine print! I guess I do have to check carefully before booking Element again!