PLAINFIELD, IL, DECEMBER 2, 2019 — Perhaps you’ve been there before: After checking into a hotel, you head to your room and open the door only to find yourself in a decor best described as Early American Garage Sale. Carpets are dirty and frayed. Wallpaper looks dingy. The bathroom has mold. You vow never to return.
It can happen to the best hotel. Hotels that enjoy higher occupancy experience greater use of their guestrooms, translating into more wear and tear. The environment also plays a role. For instance, resorts near the beach will be adversely impacted by sand, saltwater, and the sea air that can destroy carpeting, rust metal furniture, and warp wooden case goods. Those circumstances aside, however, the most common reason for a poorly maintained hotel is financial: the owner simply will not open the checkbook to renovate the property.
Hoteliers say there are three basic cycles in a hotel’s life: refurbishment, basic renovation and complete renovation. Costs vary greatly and depend on whether the hotel is an upscale or economy business. The first cycle can occur in the first three to six years: a refurbishment of furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE), averaging between $4,000 and $8,000 a room. After about 10 years comes basic renovation, averaging $12,000 per room. Finally, after about 50 years, comes a massive renovation, which can cost upwards of $60,000 per room or more in a upscale establishment.
Renovations are not always done in one go. Many hotel brands will try to spread projects out, such as carpets one year, FF&E the next, up until a full Property Improvement Plan (PIP) is due to keep the hotel looking uniform throughout the brand. Ensuring any project is completed within a defined budget requires the hotel owner to pull together a team of renovation professionals who have extensive hotel experience and will work together to oversee the entire process.
According to Sam Cicero, Jr., president of Cicero’s Development Corp., a general contractor specializing in hotel renovation, there are precautionary warning signs that can tell hotel owners that a renovation is overdue.
- Chipping or cracks on tile flooring, worn out carpets and scratched wooden floors. Besides looking tacky, damaged flooring can become a tripping hazard for guests. Because of heavy foot traffic a hotel’s floors are usually the first sign the property is decaying.
- The dreaded bad online review. Guests who have a bad experience are much more likely to leave a review than those who enjoyed a positive experience. If reviews constantly mention the poor condition of the property, it is time to call a contractor.
- Wasteful, energy-inefficient plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems. If you do not have LED lighting, low-flow showers, dual-flush toilets, EnergyStar® systems, and faucet aerators you are paying far more in utility costs than you could, and doing damage to the environment.
- Hotel FF&E is damaged, dated or just plain dirty. FF&E extends itself to conference rooms, business centers, lobbies and other common areas. In addition to concerns about appearances, older FF&E may not meet life safety codes and standards for flammability, toxicity, and slip resistance.
- Stale smells throughout the property. Although it may seem a small thing, bad smells speaks to an overall neglect of the hotel. No amount of air refresher is going to remove that unique blend of cigarette smoke, mold, dust, and body odor of past guests.
- Year-over-year booking is down despite a strong economy. Are other hotels in your area hitting high occupancy levels while your property sputters?
If any of the above applies to your hotel a call to a renovation professional is in order. The contractor will need a copy of your existing building drawings, a copy of your PIP request (if applicable), digital photos of rooms and common areas, an estimated budget range, and your projected time frame to ensure an accurate quote.