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Five Tips for Hotel Refurbishment that will make FF&E last longer

Durable Hotel Design: Five Tips on Hotel FF&E That Will Last Longer

 

In difficult economic times, especially in this current downturn that hotel owners find themselves in, investing much needed cash or securing financing for Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment (“FF&E”) refurbishments becomes a sensitive topic. Hotel brands require owners to follow brand standards and comply with often strict property improvement plans and timelines. The guest as well has high expectations and often seeks to get more and pay less. This puts a lot of pressure on owners and it becomes critical to make the right decisions for the operation in regard to renovations. It is a fine line between guest expectations and the operation’s balance sheet. In the end you cannot put off a renovation, but you can make smart decisions in regard to value for your money, or in other words, return on investment. Durable design or longer lasting FF&E is not necessarily a question of good or bad times. It is always an important factor that should be on an owner’s mind when considering renovations.

 

During healthy economic times and with higher hotel occupancies, newly installed FF&E needs to be able to withstand more use and abuse. Owners have to consider the opportunity cost of taking rooms out of their inventory as well as longer, and often unreliable, manufacturers’ lead times. During times when manufacturers’ production capacities are maximized, cost of product to the buyer goes up and it would not be unusual to see quality going down just because corners are being cut, or quality control processes are not strictly followed in order to meet the increased demand.

 

A recession such as the one we currently find ourselves in should be considered an opportunity to upgrade a hospitality asset. If there only wasn’t the pressure on maintaining a positive cash flow and/or obtaining financing. With the hotel operation being less busy, it is easier to take rooms out of order and in a very competitive manufacturing world, production lead times decrease and the value that can be expected for goods purchased should be much greater.

 

Obviously, in times like the current times, for most hotel owners it is not realistic and not in their best interest to tie-up much of the urgently needed cash reserves and invest into new FF&E. It therefore becomes important to prioritize and spend money wisely with long-term value in mind. Following are some thoughts and ideas as to what you can do to extend the life of your hotel FF&E:

  1. If not already implemented, follow a strict FF&E maintenance program. With lower occupancies, take advantage of taking rooms out of order for a couple of days and have them undergo regular deep cleanings. Repair case-goods and seating rather than replace them. Following a strict maintenance routine can extend the life-cycle of case-goods by several years. The same applies to fabrics; wash and dry clean them on a regular basis. Consider opportunities for achieving energy/water efficiencies by using the appropriate light bulbs (ideally fluorescent if applicable) and install low flow shower-heads for example. Take advantage of your manufacturers’ or distributors’ resources. Most of them will be happy to come in and train your staff on proper maintenance. In the end, it is in their best interest to have their goods look beautiful.

 

2. Evaluate which improvements can create a “wow” factor and at the same time are cost efficient and durable. For example, consider bamboo or Lyptus(R) flooring – these are rapidly renewable materials; they are sustainable, attractive, durable and affordable. Look at stone for heavy foot traffic areas. If carpet has to be replaced, think about product made of wool or branded nylon and select a simple and neutral design. On first thought it might be more expensive, but suppliers are willing to negotiate during difficult times. The initial higher cost will provide you with a product that looks and feels better and has an extended life span.

 

3. If you do not have the budget to replace case-goods, refurbish them. Experienced Hotel refurbishment companies are happy to assist in this process.  If surfaces are worn out or damaged, protect them with either glass tops or take advantage of affordable granite which always looks good, is easy to maintain, as well as long lasting. If you can replace case-goods, explore different materials such as rice husks and resin composites instead of plywood or MDF for structures. It could also help with LEED(R) Certification if that is a concern or of interest.

4. Should you be in a position to replace FF&E, take advantage of the competitive environment and buy quality at lower cost. It is no secret that quality goods will last longer. Work with suppliers and do your best to “bundle” manufacturers and sources per product category. Make it your and the manufacturer’s goal to find ways to increase durability and life-cycle, but decrease cost. Prioritize your investment in areas where the guest will notice it the most and/or where higher traffic patterns require it. As an example, use hand tufted rugs in sight-line areas and Axminster carpet in sections that walk off directly to the outside and/or food and beverage areas. Try to cut construction/installation costs as it relates to FF&E. Use embossed over smooth wall-coverings; it requires less preparation work by the contractor when re-installing and creates more streamlined and shorter installation schedule. Furthermore, consider decorative reading lamps rather than investing in architectural lighting for reading purposes. Most importantly, make sure you understand upcoming hotel brand requirements. You do not want to invest in new bed or television sets only to find out that the brand will require you to invest in a new specification within a three-year time-frame.

 

5. Be practical. Use the proper materials and try to be timeless and not too trendy. In regard to fabrics, use vinyls, polyester blends, Crypton(R) finished and high double rubs – they sustain spills, are less expensive and more durable. Select subtle patterns. Stay away from light colored materials for longer potential lifespan. Go for classically designed pieces as opposed to trendy designs that will be in style longer and could apply to multiple brands. They can also be re-upholstered with new fabrics for an update. Instead of replacing entire light fixtures, replace lamp shades only. Think about how pieces interact with their surroundings. For example, take a desk chair and the desk. Assuming the desk is wood, and the desk chair has arms, simply considering the materiality of the arms can have a significant impact on the durability of both items. A hard surface material on the arm rest, which may not even be at the appropriate height level, will damage the desk and damage the chair with each impact. Evaluate if items that can be reused. For example, unsightly glass panels recovered with a hand-painted style mural wall-covering could be turned into a creative way finding/signage system for the guest.

 

 

The thoughts outlined above are just a few ideas as it relates to extending the potential lifespan of your hotel FF&E whether it is in regard to your existing furnishings that suddenly cannot be replaced this year as originally planned, or your new FF&E that will have to remain a couple of years longer in order to achieve the desired return on investment. For the most part, it comes down to understanding your operation, being practical and most importantly, taking care of your investment by regularly following basic but strict maintenance schedules. Experienced Hotel Fit out companies will guide you on the schedules, and greatly simplify the refurbishment process.

Hotel Bedroom Solutions latest project gets rave reviews.

Xenia ReceptionXenia Hotel  London continues to get rave reviews. It was London’s most liked hotel on Trip advisor for most of 2013. This formerly shabby back packer hotel has been utterly transformed. Its outside has been restored to its previous Victorian Grandeur. The vibe inside the Xenia is thoroughly modern. Vivienne Westwood tapestries hang on the walls, giant vaselike artworks compete for attention with the sparkling reception desk and hyper-padded chairs that dazzle with the illusion of snakeskin.

More subdued than the lobby, the rooms are light and airy. Tech smarts are shown in the free Wi-Fi, multinational plug sockets, air con that switches off if you open the window and a bedside Samsung tablet loaded with information about the hotel and the area. Black-and-white London photography on the walls, pillows from Harrod’s and plush towels elevate above the generic.

Hotel Bedroom Solutions were delighted to be involved in the project, from Design to completion. All of the bedroom furniture/ Customised joinery and most of the specialist finishes were supplied by and installed by ourselves.

We wish them well for 2014.

Read more:

http://www.expedia.com.au/London-Hotels-Hotel-Xenia-London.h5453489.Hotel-Information


http://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/travel/hotel-insider-hotel-xenia-london-uk

How to Keep Hotel Renovation under budget

Rejuvenation of your hotel, whether it be new carpets and curtains in guest rooms or an upgrade in the ambience and functionality of the common areas, goes a long way towards protecting your assets as well as maintaining superior guest services. However, to achieve or exceed your long term ROI goals, it is crucial that hotel renovation costs stay in line with your budget. It is very easy for even the smallest project to get out of control and create a “money pit” of unexpected expenses, cost overruns, labor issues and inconvenient delays.

 

There are many twists and turns that can occur during a hotel renovation that can strain your patience and assault your project budget. Fortunately, there are tried and true practices that will help you navigate the minefield and complete your project on time and on budget. The key factors to keep in mind when planning your renovation are:

•Choose an experienced project manager

•Create a detailed scope of work

•Assess cost estimates and timelines

•Document the budget

•Hire the appropriate Hotel fit out contractors.

•Manage the process If care is taken to properly address all of these areas, your renovation project should go off smoothly with minimal disruption to your operations and your guests.

 

Engage the Right Project Manager

The project manager is key to success and should possess a number of skills …. time management , attention to detail, ability to develop a work schedule, set goals, create/implement actions plans, monitor progress towards goals, and make clear, timely decisions. He or she is the project maestro, organizer and traffic cop and needs to fully understand every component of the Hotel refurbishment project. If there are multiple fit out contractors involved, the project manager is the one who will ensure that each contractor has fulfilled their part of the project as expected and be sure that the next contractor is ready to go. If your Hotel renovation project involves plumbers, drywallers, painters and carpet layers, for example, there is an orderly progression of work that needs to be completed before the next stage can begin. It only takes one fit out contractor to muck up the schedule – perhaps they can’t start when expected, they may be having labor issues, or encounter other unexpected problems. Any of these problems can contribute to project delays and cost overruns.

 

Who should manage the project? For larger projects involving multiple contractors, it often makes most sense to hire a construction firm and use their experienced supervisor to manage the project and oversee the various stages and subcontractors involved. They should have the expertise and understanding to keep the project on track, from both a timeline and cost perspective. For smaller projects, it might make sense for the hotel general manager to oversee the project, but only if they have had some experience dealing with contractors. And it is important to understand if your general manager truly has the time, skills and inclination to manage a project as well as perform their daily management tasks. If not, your project may be at great risk.

Create a Detailed Scope of Work

The project manager needs to precisely determine the scope of work to be performed, the length of time required to complete the project, and create a plan to execute the project without major disruptions to guests. At this time, it may be determined that it will be necessary to close the hotel during the renovation for a period of time or map out a plan where only a certain number of rooms are renovated at a time, enabling revenue to be generated during the process. Either way, detailed requirements and specifications for each phase of the project should be identified and documented.

Choosing the Right Contractors

Once you have an accurate assessment of the project and have created a detailed scope of work, it’s time to go out to bid.

You should obtain at least three proposals. Keep in mind that while you will be attracted to the lowest bid, you may not be satisfied with the lowest bidder. Each bidder should have a long list of references and they should be diligently checked. Understand who will be doing the work – the construction company or their subcontractors – and be sure that they have actually performed this type of work. It is not uncommon for a general contractor to submit a bid on a project without having their own internal experience, then hire a subcontractor with expertise in that specific area once the bid has been accepted. It is imperative you know that everyone working on your project is reputable and trustworthy and that they are licensed and insured.

Your contractors should also have experience in dealing with building inspectors and other building officials and be capable of pulling the appropriate permits.

And, ask your colleagues for referrals. If you know other hotel owners in the area or attend business meetings with your colleagues, ask them if they have had any personal experience with a contractor or have recommendations. Often times they will be your best source of information to assess and select the contractor as well as providing valuable input in the planning and execution of the project.

Make sure that you also build in accident contingencies into the contracts. If a plumber changing a fixture accidentally breaks a pipe, who is responsible? Or if a dry Waller accidently cuts a wire in the wall, who pays for the cost to bring in an electrician?

For small renovations, often times owners will use their own staff to handle the project. In this case, be sure they have the expertise to do the job, they adhere to the project timeline in addition to handling their regular responsibilities, and understand expectations and overtime guidelines in advance.

Document a Project Budget

Once you are aware of labor and material costs, document your assessment in a budget and be sure there are not hidden costs. For instance, your carpet installer may give you a fair estimate for the carpet and installation, but is there an additional fee for disposing of the old carpet? The budget should take into account labor charges, keeping in mind overtime, night or weekend fees. The budget should also reflect accurate materials costs – if it is a long term project, is there any chance that materials costs could increase over time based on changing market conditions? If so, it is a good idea to anticipate cost changes (they rarely go down) and build in any potential material cost increases into the budget – better to be prepared upfront.

Build contingencies into the budget. Sometimes accidents are unavoidable and costly and its best to set aside a contingency fund for worst case scenarios.

Communicate Regularly

It is the project manager’s job to lay out the guidelines for each contractor – be sure they know when they can start work and when they need to finish so the work in progress is seamless or minimally disruptive to your guests. Determine how and when they will clean up on a daily basis. It is also imperative that the project manager communicates regularly with the contractors – meet weekly and go through the checklist of project milestones to be sure that everything is progressing as it should. Changes are inevitable and it is the project manager’s responsibility to be sure that the owner is aware of and signs off on any change orders.

Good communication will identify potential snags, delays or potential cost overruns. Upon completion of work, it should be quality inspected to be sure it meets the agreed upon specifications before moving to the next phase.

 

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labour

A well-managed Hotel renovation project will be on budget and on-time. You will have improved the value of your physical assets while improving your guest satisfaction and repeat business. While the project may seem daunting, proper management will ensure a smooth execution.

 

Jed C. Heller is CEO of The Providence Group LLC, which provides management services to hotels and timeshare resorts.

10 Areas of FF&E Hotels Should Focus On

Some aspects of Hotel design and purchasing are easy to overlook but deserve your attention

Every hotelier is familiar with the “furniture, fixtures and equipment” process but not every hotelier approaches it the same way. Some people are more structured in handling FF&E while others are more casual.

Regardless of your approach, remember that FF&E is one of the largest categories of expenses, behind only the Land your hotel sits on and the “bricks and mortar” used to build it. Unfortunately, when certain aspects of design and purchasing get overlooked, both your budget and your property suffer.

Here is my version of a “top 10” list – this one for making your hotel stand out from the crowd while making your Money  stretch further. So whatever you’ve done in the past, the next time you undertake FF&E – whether it’s for a renovation or a new construction – use these tips to guide you.

1. Decide Your Budget & Your Style Preferences

Setting a budget and picking a style preference are somewhat like the chicken and the egg – which comes first? The answer is that you can’t have one without the other – they’re interdependent.

Whether you’re shopping for a car or a new piece of clothing, you have an amount in mind you think you’re going to spend. Of course, the amount you eventually spend will be determined by the quality, style, and amenities you select.

It’s no different with your FF&E budget. You need to set a figure – if not a specific  amount then certainly a range – for what you think you’re going to spend.

Your designer and purchasing agents can then help you decide how realistic you’re being based on the “look” you want to achieve.

So what is the “look” you want?

You may be able to explain your preferences very thoroughly and clearly to a designer – or you may prefer to assemble photos that capture your taste in furnishings and color combinations.

Use magazines and the internet as references. If you have time, visit local furniture shops. If you admire the d’ecor at a particular office or restaurant you patronize, ask the owner or manager for the name of their furniture brand or design company.

Bring all these photos, magazine clippings, color ideas, and other style information to your first meeting with the design and purchasing company. These materials will be important visual references in shaping your design specifications, solidifying your budget, and simplifying your communications with a designer.

2. Select The Right Design & Purchasing Firm

When selecting a company to handle your design and purchasing, remember that this firm is going to be your partner for hundreds of decisions and thousands of dollars in expenditures – so select someone you feel comfortable working with.

For example, every hotel brand focuses on slightly different details and requirements in its FF&E package. You want a purchasing agent who is familiar with your flag, but who will still represent your interests as the owner.

You also want a company with a proven reputation, so ask for references – and if possible, visit a few of the properties that the company has designed and furnished.

During your evaluation or interview process, ask candidate companies to name the manufacturers they usually use – and why. The advantages and disadvantages of various manufacturers should include such factors as reliability, shipping costs, craftsmanship, durability, and pricing.

In addition, ask for an explanation of the difference in “hard” costs between various manufacturers – namely, price – and “soft” costs – namely, poor quality or late delivery. These problems can quickly eat up any price savings and can actually double or triple the real cost of a product over its usable life.

There is no hard rule of thumb, but a good purchasing professional can extend your original budget by 10% to 20% – plus considerably reduce your headaches and sleepless nights.

To make your project go especially smoothly, find a company that provides one-stop “turnkey” service for the four stages of FF&E – design, purchasing, transportation, and installation. It’s preferable that the company performs these services in-house, without sub-contracting them to other vendors.

 

3. Put “WOW” in the Lobby

You’ve covered the basics – namely, selecting a budget, a look, and a design/purchasing partner – so now you can start focusing on the property itself, and there’s no better place to start than the lobby because that’s the first thing a visitor experiences.

Create a “wow” factor that will get people’s attention, make them think favourably of your hotel, and cause them to want to return. For example, prominently feature a floor-to-ceiling stacked stone wall, a dramatic over-sized fireplace, or a large waterfall.

4. Step Up to Distinctive Flooring

Before you – and your guests – leave the lobby, use the floor to make a high impact in a high traffic area. While many brand standards recognize the importance of upgraded lobby floor covering, you should consider going beyond what is “required.”

For example, use materials that have upscale appeal such as granite or marble. Enhance these even further with decorative medallions or with a distinctive border around the room perimeter.

If you have a dining area, especially one adjacent to the lobby, upgrade the carpeting by using a denser product made of a branded nylon or wool – this creates a richer, plush look and the improved quality will considerably improve wear. The increased cost of higher grade carpet will be offset by its longer durability.

 

5. Better Furniture Makes A Better Lobby

One last focal area in the lobby is furniture. You want to create the feeling of a comfortable, welcoming living room – so use higher-end upholstered pieces plus lots of accent tables.

Table surfaces can be granite or can feature patterns of inlaid wood. These special treatments make a strong favourable impression and granite in particular has become very affordable.

6. Make Corridors A Moving Experience

Too many hoteliers invest in their lobby and guest rooms, then neglect the corridors that guests use to travel between those well-decorated areas. You can avoid that big mistake by giving attention to these small details.

Lighting provides both style and substance. Get style with a combination of ceiling fixtures and wall sconces, perhaps as a continuing of your lobby motive; get substance with bulbs that are fluorescent instead of incandescent – they use up to 75% less energy and can last five times longer.

 

In addition, upgrade the corridor carpeting, use a chair rail and crown molding, plus add touches of “home” such as artwork, foyer tables with lamps, and greenery. All of these elements liven the corridors and enhance your property’s upbeat, upscale image. And if your budget is limited, use these ideas only on the first floor.

7. Add An Exclamation Point To Guestrooms

Enhanced brand standards mean enhanced guest rooms, but you can add still more pizzazz with one or two strategically placed design elements. For example, put a granite surface on night stands, use crown molding, or select an unusual piece of accent furniture or artwork – such as a three-dimensional framed object or the photograph of a local landmark.

It goes without saying that the Mattress must be very comfortable.

 

8. The Bathroom Isn’t Just for Bathing Anymore

Studies show that guests spend more time in the bathroom than any other area of the guest room, other than the bed. You can make time spent “primping and prepping” in the bathroom special with: Good Lighting to allow you to put on Makeup properly. Mood lighting for a bath would be wonderful.  Ensure that the Shower controls are easy to use, and water pressure sufficient.

9. Make Your Fitness Center Really Fit

More and more travellers, whether they’re on vacation or on business, want a comfortable place to work out so hoteliers are responding by putting some extra muscle into their fitness centres’.

10. Everyone Into The Pool!

If your hotel features a pool, be sure to add a few extra accents that will make this area of the property even more dramatic, lively, and enjoyable.

There you have my “top 10” areas of design and purchasing that are easy to overlook but deserve your attention. How have you done in the past keeping your focus on these items? More importantly how will you do in future Hotel Refurbishments,  how will you do in the future?

Amy Locke is director of interior design at Hatchett Hospitality. She works with franchisers and franchisees on a wide variety of hotel brands, styles, and themes – from economy to luxury, from resort to business conference, and from traditional to modern. Previous to joining Hatchett, she held a position in interior design with Ethan Allen Interiors. Ms. Locke earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She is completing a degree in feng shuiand is an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Ms. Locke can be contacted at 770-227-5232 or Amy@HatchettHospitality.com Extended Bio…

By Amy Locke, Director, Interior Design, Hatchett Hospitality

Tips for Keeping Guests Happy During Hotel Renovation

Generally, all hotels go through some level of renovation every five to seven years to update the physical aspects of the asset in order to remain competitive–and to remain in compliance with required franchise brand standards, when applicable. How effectively management strategically plans for and executes an asset renovation program can have a significant impact on the hotel’s level of guest satisfaction and inconvenience, and on the hotel’s bottom line during the renovation process. Removing room inventory and access to public areas of a hotel during a renovation can cause both inconvenience and discomfort to the hotel’s guests – and also result in significant displaced revenue.

 

To mitigate the deleterious operational and financial effects of a renovation program, the following actions are essential in order to initiate a “painless as possible” renovation of a hotel – while concurrently minimizing the financial impact on the hotel’s bottom line.

1.Review franchise quality standards for required renovations that are provided by the various franchise brands for the renovation (when applicable).

 

2.Assess historical comments and input from the hotel’s guest base to hear from the customer what specific areas of the hotel operation may be obsolete or in need of modernization. Of particular interest should be areas of technology, such as Internet access and speed (bandwidth), televisions, radios and other amenities that have become front-of-mind to the technologically savvy traveler.

 

3.Clearly define the entire scope of the project, and receive input and approval from the franchise brand involved (if applicable).

4.Speak with other hotel operators and general managers that have recently completed a similar project to gain valuable input from their experience, and to assist in the planning and execution of the program

5.Based on the scope and magnitude of the renovation project, determine if the hotel needs to be closed in its entirety and reopened after the renovation, or if the renovation should occur while the asset continues to operate.

6.Based on the scope of the project, evaluate and strategize the optimum time of the year to perform the renovation in order to minimize both customer discomfort and revenue displacement.

7.Select a general contractor to oversee the project that has experience with the type of renovation that is to be undertaken. It is crucial to enlist a general contractor who understands the challenges of renovating a business that will continue to operate throughout the renovation process, and who also understands the need to work quietly and cleanly.

8.During the general contractor selection process, personally visit hotels the contracting firm has already renovated to evaluate the quality of workmanship, and discuss the firm’s on-time performance with the onsite management team.

9.Identify the architect, interior designer and purchasing agent for the project (as may be required by the scope).

10.In consultation with the general contractor, determine the timeline for the project, including scheduling the number of rooms that will be removed from inventory and the length of time the rooms must be taken from inventory, as well as the public areas that will be impacted during the renovation.

11.Prior to commencing the renovation, communicate early and often with the hotel’s guests, alerting them to the upcoming renovation and keeping them fully informed of the progress of the renovation as it occurs. This communication process is imperative for the in-house or long-term guests, as well as the businesses with which the hotel interacts.

12.Create a displaced revenue report that contains financial information capturing the negative impact on top-line revenues that have been displaced, both in the rooms department as well as in the food and beverage and meeting space areas. The revenue displacement reports are used to accurately explain to ownership the financial impact on the operation. These can also be used for future budgeting and planning purposes by providing accurate revenue comparison data.

13.At the conclusion of the renovation, use the appropriate media outlets to inform the public and all guests that the renovation is complete.

14.Renovating an operating business is a difficult but necessary aspect of the hotel industry. Through careful planning, coordination, communication and execution, a hotel can pass through a renovation process relatively unscathed, resulting in an improved facility offering an elevated level of customer satisfaction and competitiveness.

By Michael Goldstein, President & CEO, Packar Hospitality Group

How to Renovate a Hotel More Painlessly

The phrase “under renovation” can refer to a wide spectrum of work – from relatively simple cosmetic improvements to a complete re-do of architectural elements and FF&E. How extensive the work will determine how great the potential inconvenience  on your guests.

Regardless of the scope of work, however, your goal for the hotel is to return rooms to service as quickly as possible – while your goal for guests should be to prevent them from feeling as if they’re staying in a construction zone.

There are a series of things you can do to make guests more comfortable during hotel renovations and they all fall into three basic categories: plan, communicate, and manage. Here are some specific suggestions.

1. Plan

Renovate in stages – coordinate carefully with your architect, project engineer, and FF&E designer to determine the sequence in which areas of the hotel should be refurnished. Your decision will be influenced by such factors as:

•how long various areas be “out of revenue” for you

•areas that can be expedited so they resume contributing to revenues as soon as possible

•what the schedule is for shipping, receiving, and installing various products.

•Remember: areas that are finished should not be exposed to unnecessary construction traffic and dirt from areas that are still being worked on, otherwise you’ll undo all of your fine renovation efforts and expenses.

Limit work to daytime hours – you won’t have to pay overtime to workers and they’ll be working during the times that most guests are not physically in the hotel.

Arrange substitute facilities – guests will still wish to use a pool, gym, or business center so make arrangements with a nearby hotel or health club. You can even offer shuttle bus service to these off-site locations as a way of further minimizing the inconvenience.

2. Communicate

Hotel Renovation is a serious business so keep your staff informed – be sure to share plans with your employees completely, continually, and candidly. These are the people who will have to interact with guests on the front line every day, so equip them to answer questions and to provide information.

•Consider a daily update in-person for senior staff and a weekly update, either in-person or in writing, for all employees.

Keep your guests informed — travellers are willing to understand and put up with a certain amount of inconvenience, but only if they are provided with facts and treated with extra courtesy.

For example:

•Put a notice or warning on your website

•Train hotel personnel who take phone reservations and provide them with appropriate points of information which they can share with prospective guests

•Send a letter by postal mail or e-mail to every guest immediately after a confirmed reservation has been made

•Provide every guest with an explanation letter at the time of check-in plus have duplicate information in each guest room

•Use a strong combination of on-site signage, including color design boards, directional signs, and “pardon our dust” signs

•Use these communication vehicles as marketing tools to explain how the hotel is being improved and when the enhancements will be completed. This can be especially valuable in gaining the loyalty of repeat business travelers.

3. Manage

Stay Ahead of Site Upkeep & Maintenance – daily housekeeping of areas under renovation is imperative for both appearance and safety.

Consider these ideas:

Use partitions such as pipe and drape or mobile walls to keep dust and workers in the construction site and guests out – work will go faster and easier when workers and guests don’t have to navigate around each other

•Be sure to have adequate and designated storage areas for both incoming new products and outgoing debris

•Create a “buffer zone” for guests by having those rooms which are adjacent to the construction be the last ones rented each night

•Use secondary or freight elevators for transporting equipment and workers

Establish A Complaint Procedure – have a system in place for handling those guests or situations which require special attention. Train your employees to spot these occasions and empower the appropriate personnel to take action immediately to correct the matter, for example, by offering a free meal, more loyalty points, or a discounted or complimentary future stay.

Adjust Room Prices – in some ways, reducing room rates may be a strategy of last resort because it can reduce revenues. On the other hand, you can use price reductions as a promotional incentive on numerous discount travel sites such as Hotwire.com and Priceline.com.

While some travellers resent paying full price while hotel renovation work is in progress, there are others who shop for bargains and therefore have a whole different set of expectations for their hotel stay.

No hotelier can do away with the sounds, smells, and sawdust of construction – they are, in fact, the signs of progress. However, conscientious and courteous owners can take simple steps to minimize the impact on their guests – and in the process, maximize guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Renovate or Die !

That may sound like a melodramatic rallying cry, but actually it’s a stark fact-of-business life for hoteliers. Once a property loses its appeal, it loses guests – which leads promptly to lower rates and inevitably to lower revenues.

So a major challenge for owners is to keep their hotels fresh and “up to standards” – those of the traveller and those of the brand. That’s the “why” of renovation

But no less daunting is the “how” of renovation – namely, the challenge of keeping the disruptions associated with renovation construction to a minimum for guests.

Let’s look at these two challenges briefly.

Why Renovate?

  • Hotels go through a rather predictable cycle – they open, they ramp up, and they peak, a process which typically takes three years. This peak usually lasts about three years, then the property begins to decline as it no longer has the style and the gadgets of newer models.

 

  • Consider this – a 100-room hotel operating at 75% occupancy can have more than 50,000 visitors per year. That’s a lot of wear-and-tear on furnishings – and it’s why renovation is a

 

  • Certainly different FF&E items receive differing amounts of usage and therefore can be replaced on differing schedules. So while hotel renovation and refurbishment can be incremental, they are nevertheless constant.
  • Put another way – you have to spend money to make money. How much money? One handy rule of thumb is 5% of revenues each year.
  • Think of your hotel renovation fund as a proactive management tool – the vehicle that gives guests what they want and what they’re not getting at any of your competitors. Plus the vehicle that gives you improved RevPAR.
  • If your occupancy is a little soft right now due to the economy, this may be an especially good time to take care of some renovation projects – you’ll disrupt fewer guests, you’ll displace fewer room nights, and you’ll be positioned for the upswing when it comes.

Hilton New Room Designs

For the past year, Hilton Hotels have been working to upgrade their look, using the Hilton Tysons Corner in Virginia as their guinea pig.

The hotel is unlike any other Hilton in that it features new guestroom design concepts, a Technology Lounge and a new lobby bar and restaurant concept where guests and locals can interact, work and collaborate.

But now, Hilton is rolling out some other new design concepts which Hilton Hotel owners can start implementing in their properties–new and old.

The first concept borne out of the newly created Hilton Design Studio is the Hilton Valet, a multifunctional armoire.

You might be thinking, “Armoire?” Ugh that’s so 90s but this armoire does more than just hold a TV and your shoes. The Hilton Valet comes with a a built-in ironing boards, outlets for the iron, a safe for valuables positioned at standing height (for easy access), a mini-fridge and a coffee/tea tray that slide into drawers so they are only seen when in use (perfect for when you have guests come to your hotel room?)

So will this new hotel room Design stand the test of time, we will see.

The other trend now happening in London is that 50 Shades of Grey is beginning to replace the Bible in hotel rooms.Will Hilton Hotel  refurbishments include this masterpiece ?

 

Olympics boost London hotel performance

LONDON—London hotels reported increases in average daily rate and revenue per available room during the 2012 Olympic Games, according to STR Global, the leading service provider of market information to the hotel industry. The games started with the opening ceremony Friday, 27 July 2012 and ended Sunday, 12 August 2012.

Hoteliers across London reported average occupancy of 88.5 percent and ADR of £212.22. This represents an increase of 4.8 percent and 86.1 percent, respectively, compared to the same days the year prior. STR Global tracks daily performance from more than 390 hotels in London and 2,400 hotels across the United Kingdom overall.

“The London 2012 Olympic Games have provided great sporting moments and a very enjoyable atmosphere for athletes and spectators alike”, commented Elizabeth Randall Winkle, managing director of STR Global. “The smooth running of the event and its positive coverage to a global TV audience will encourage more visitors to come to London in the future. London’s hoteliers are looking forward to welcoming them as well as preparing to host guests for the Paralympics, held 29 August through 9 September”. All augurs well for a busy hotel refurbishment season this winter.

Hotel Design Trends 2012

Hotel Design Trends 2012

Written by Jackie Sloat-Spencer
Tapping into 10 design trends that give hotels flairAlways innovating and constantly changing, this year’s design trends motivate the newest and hottest hotel styles popping up in the Canadian marketplace. Hotelier magazine surveyed the country’s leadingdesign teams to come up with our list of 10 trends influencing hotel design to help you in your fit-outs, or planned Hotel refurbishment. (in no particular order). The distinguished panel includes Mavis Truscott, hospitality design lead at Calgary-based Sizeland Evans Interior Design; George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, partners at Yabu Pushelberg, Toronto; Robynne Moncur, principal designer at Moncur Design in Toronto and Julie Campbell, principal, SSDG Interiors Inc., Vancouver.

 

 

1.    Living, Breathing Lobbies: Gone are the days of lifeless lobbies, stagnant vestibule areas ignored by guests headed to their rooms. Hoteliers now believe these areas are perfect for showcasing the style and mood of a hotel. As such, they’re equipping lobbies with innovative kiosks and creative check-in areas, and, in the process, creating a fun, social atmosphere with pizzazz. The common spaces now serve as an oasis where guests can sit and relax. A central café lounge with multimedia stations are the norm. “Lobbies abound with opportunity — give your guests the opportunity to use them for casual meetings, socializing and as a gathering space,” says Julie Campbell of Vancouver-based SSDG Interiors Inc. For example, the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Pearson International Airport recently underwent a $3-million renovation with an upgraded lobby that comes alive. The hotel’s Link@Sheraton lounge comes fully equipped with Internet connectivity where guests can check email and print their boarding passes. Additionally, The Hotel at River Rock in Richmond, B.C., features a living lobby that is four-storeys high. Guests can chill out in the open-air space while enjoying the soothing sound of a waterfall and indoor pond.

 

 

2.    Spa-Like Bathrooms: Designing a bathroom space with spa-like elements is a great way to ensure guests have a relaxing stay. A slow down and chill-out design invites guests to spend luxurious hours ensconced in their suites. Old showers are out, body jet and rain showers are in, with oversized bathtubs oozing luxury. And, these days, top-of-the-line textiles are the norm with terrycloth robes, towels sporting high-thread counts and luxurious beauty items available in the bathroom. At the W Montreal hotel, a Starwood property, designers carefully crafted a stylish environment by placing a large, free-standing tub in the middle of the suite surrounded by glass shower doors. Spa-like bathroom amenities complete the look. The St. Regis San Francisco also offers an oversized tub with marble vanity complete with two glass sinks, a ceiling-mounted rainfall showerhead and detachable handheld shower.

 

 

3.    The Comforts of Home: It’s no secret today’s guests want to be reminded of home so designers are using warm, rich colours to offer comfort in each suite. Soft orange hues promote relaxation, while modern greys create an understated cool elegance. “Spiced pumpkin, tangerine and amber” are popular variations of the orange palette, explains Robynne Moncur of Toronto’s Moncur Design. At Hôtel Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile, guestrooms incorporate wood accents on the bed, topped with soft orange sheets. Designers also incorporated natural colours to give guests a sense of the outdoors. The Fairmont Banff Springs’ Gold Wing delivers a warm gold palette without being overbearing. Accents of warm autumnal fabrics, a thistle motif and indigenous tyndall stone are added to reflect the heritage and geography of the hotel. The Barrie, Ont.-based Horseshoe Resort uses natural colours such as amber and wood textures to create an outdoor feeling while retaining its contemporary feel. This trend comes as “Slow travel and staycations continue to gain momentum,” says Julie Campbell of SSDG Interiors Inc.

 

 

4.    Lifestyle Coach:With today’s fast-paced environment, it’s important guests keep up with their daily routines even when on the road. Borrowing a residential look and feel, hotels aim to replicate a guest’s home life by including flat-screen TVs, upgraded exercise areas and a bevy of tech toys. Hotels now also feature scent branding, with the interior scents of guestrooms and lobbies carefully chosen to represent the hotel and remind guests of home. Shangri-a Hotels and Resorts uses a ginger and bergamot-scent in its rooms.

Providing a tech-friendly environment is a must. These days iPod docking stations and top-of-the-line speaker systems are included in guestrooms. “IPod docking stations with integrated speakers bring an element of home,” since guests can play their own music, explains Mavis Truscott of Calgary’s Sizeland Evans Interior Design. In addition to the most up-to-date fitness studios, Pilates and Yoga classes have been added to appeal to the fitness-savvy traveller. Toronto’s Hazelton Hotel offers a mosaic-tiled lap pool and a team of personal trainers for those who want to stay fit while on the road.

 

 

5.    Restaurants that Sizzle: Hotel restaurants are more than just a place to stop and grab a bite. The culinary havens are the perfect outlets to showcase innovative design, making the restaurant itself a destination. Stock restaurant, sitting atop the 31st floor of the new Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto, impresses with an art-deco vibe and contemporary look. Its crystal-studded wall appliques, antique mirror ceiling panels, soft bronze metal work and blend of colours from a champagne-and-caviar palette, make the resto a key destination. Other hotel restaurants, such as Toca by Tom Brodi at the Ritz-Carlton, attract visual interest by showcasing elements such as a glass cheese cave. Centrally located in the main dining room, it displays more than 200 international cheeses. Other highlights include the restaurant’s walk-through pastry corridor, a glazed-brick interior and its open-concept kitchen — perfect for watching the chefs in action.

 

 

6.   Wall Candy: Showcasing local art can impart a personal touch and help define a hotel brand while promoting local talent. Large-scale artwork can be sourced from local photographers and is ideal for adding a signature flair to each room. A gallery of artwork can be used as a pathway to lead guests to their suites, imparting a sense of arrival. The Aloft Montreal Airport hotel features a rotating display of artwork by local designers. Last year, Vancouver’s Moda Hotel underwent a massive artistic transformation of its exterior, reflecting its energy and style through the use of street-art. A display, called “Unintended Calculations,” was created by a team of local artists, including Scott Sueme. “Colour, art and fabrics transform spaces to engage the senses and deliver the mood and hotel story,” adds Mavis Truscott of Calgary’s Sizeland Evans Interior design.

 

 

7.    Unconventional Layouts: Rethinking guestroom configurations, hoteliers are looking for new ways to break from the basic bed-desk-bathroom layout. Floating desks are now de rigueur, giving the room a more residential feeling. And, with more guests working from personal devices, some hotels are also eliminating desks. Instead, coffee tables are bigger and higher, so guests can eat and work at the same time, reports Yabu Pushelberg. Once a guestroom fixture, credenzas are now history, replaced by mounted flat-screen TVs. And carpets are being replaced by materials such as hardwood, herringbone and even bamboo floors. Matching furniture has given way to mix-and-match pieces, which add an eclectic flair to the room. Upholstered furniture brings an air of sophistication, and surprising textures are created with rich velvets, silks and chintz covered with interesting patterns and providing bold contrast. Montreal’s Alt Quartier DIX30 makes a bold statement by incorporating interesting blends of red and pink into a dark colour palette and showcasing a Calla chair, an ergonomic accessory that transforms into a chaise lounge.

 

 

8.    Indoor Meets Outdoor: Hoteliers are venturing outside the norm to create visual extensions of the outdoors inside its doors. Water is being incorporated into traditional design, bringing a sense of outdoor spa-like quality to the hotel. Wood flooring in bathrooms is an excellent way to create an “outdoorsy” space inside, while stone floors featuring area rugs for warmth, create a rustic, resort-like feeling. Wood panelling adorns the walls with marble and slate to infuse modern and elegant twists. Designers are also bringing the outdoors in by using water features, large plants and birch accessories, says Robynne Moncur of Toronto’s Moncur Design. The Aloft Montreal Airport goes the extra mile in its outdoor patio design with a bold colour scheme of bright green and brown, complete with various types of lounging blocks substituted for chairs. The Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa offers a wood-burning fireplace in many of its suites, or guests can step outside to discover the communal fireplace with sitting rocks or comfy loungers.

 

 

9.    Plugged In: Guests have come to expect a technology- friendly guestroom with clever lighting design and the newest innovations in lobbies. Hotels are looking for ways to streamline the check-in experience while appealing to customers’ craving for technology. The Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel offers guests an independent check-in area with self-serve kiosks. There, guests can print boarding passes while checking in. And, the Hyatt Andaz brand has replaced the check-in desk with PC tablets allowing guests to sign in at their leisure. Once inside the room, the lighting sets the mood. High-intensity lighting is the norm, framing bathroom mirrors or emitting a softer glow and a funkier feel from under a lamp shade. Ambient lighting is now expected and guests want to control more, leading hotels to install lighting with touch-pad dimmer switches so guests can create their own customized experience.

 

 

10.    It may not be easy to go green but hoteliers are getting creative in using existing elements and making them energy efficient and eco-friendly. The Quartier DIX30 in Montreal capitalizes on natural light with its oversized windows, creating a low-energy environment. Electronic water faucets are installed in bathrooms, saving energy and money without compromising style. The Element Vaughan Southwest, slated to open in Vaughan, Ont., in 2013, promotes an eco-conscious stay fused with urban design. And, in an effort to eliminate wasteful bottles, bath amenities will be available in a dispenser format. Guestrooms will include recycling bins for paper, plastic and glass, as well as carpeting made from recycled materials. Extra high ceilings, a 16-foot wall of windows, low seating and an open layout in the lobby will allow natural light to carry throughout the space

Written by Jackie Sloat-Spencer