CLARK KELLY lists a few essentials for hotel interiors consultants
Project design can pay rich dividends, but few projects come back with as many customer complaints as hotels. In large part, this is because of the sheer volume of traffic hotels must deal with, consequently generating tremendous amounts of wear and tear.
However, as interiors professionals in the region know all too well, most large projects in this part of the world are hotels. It is necessary, then, for interiors consultants on hotel projects to keep a few essentials in mind. MEI puts together a ready reckoner that should stand you in good stead.
When asked what the main considerations that hotels need to keep in mind when buying new furnishings, suppliers suggest going for product superiority over price. While hotels often have very limited budgets to work with, it’s best to spend as much as you can on quality materials. This is beneficial in many different ways.
“Buying from integrated mills and other quality sources can lead to long term savings on account of better quality, easy availability including when required for replacement, transparent pricing and simpler transactions,” says one supplier of a company that provides turnkey furnishings solutions for projects. At the very least, picking quality at the start means long-term savings.
GUARD AGAINST MICROBES
Dubai hotels have been battling an infestation of bed bugs in recent times, according to news reports. But creepy crawlies, bacteria and viruses have long been a reason the hotel industry has been losing money. Mould and insect infestation are a major problem any large project must guard against.
However, today technology comes to the rescue in the area of keeping disease away. A wide range of antibacterial textile goods are now available to the consumer with increasing demand for expanding product lines and the market is now booming for more environmentally friendly and functional products for sportswear, home furnishings, outdoor use textiles, hotel industry products and medical and wellness applications.
Technology: Fabrics treated with
anti-bacterial finishes keep away
mould and mildew
Fabrics can be treated with anti-bacterial finishes to keep away mould and mildew. The antibacterial treatment is a durable “locked-in chemistry” that is incorporated into the backing composite of carpets, curtains, furnishings and rugs to minimise product deterioration and odours caused by microbial activity and used in hospitals to treat the superbug MRSA.
The greatest challenge to antibacterial textiles is the durability of the antibacterial function. Repeated laundering can affect the properties of the fabric, so employ processes that incorporate a longer-lasting antibacterial effect. Hotel managers advise keeping a regular schedule of maintenance services to ensure properties stay disease-free.
LOOK TO TECHNOLOGY
Modern antimicrobial solutions lie in nanotechnology, a branch of science that operates at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometres (1 Billion Nanometres = 1 Metre). The technology can be used in engineering desired textile attributes, such as fabric softness, durability, and breath ability and in developing advanced performance characteristics, namely, water repellence, fire retardation, antimicrobial resistance and so on for fibres, yarns and fabrics.
The last thing a hotelier wants is a fire. Waking up all those guests and moving them to a central location is a nightmare – both in operational and in reputation terms. The smart hotelier invests in fire retardants. Seating, divan beds, upholstered bed frames, bed headboards and mattresses in bedrooms must meet the flammability requirements so that they are all resistant to ignition source, including a match flame and cigarettes, even though smoking is usually not permitted inside most hotels.
“Fabrics finished with nanotechnology products offer better resistance,” says the furnishings spokesperson “While these are more expensive currently, there is a demand for these finishes.” Clearly, these buyers believe it’s worth investing in fortified products with greater durability.
This is a mantra real estate professionals hold dear applies equally to furnishings. Where the furniture is going matters most of all. The wear and tear it will experience is vastly different in a restaurant than it is in a guest bedroom. The former will see several people use the same piece of furniture on the same day, while the latter may only be used once a day, if that. It is therefore essential to choose the right pieces of furniture for the right areas. You don’t want clients blacklisting you because those metal chairs are rusting outdoors due to the fact that they weren’t completed in stainless steel. Before placing a final order, determine how each piece of furniture will react with its surroundings and match them as closely as you can to how they will be used, say experts.
FOLLOW THE 10 PER CENT RULE
Simplistic as it may sound, and although it is often the first rule of purchasing, managers often forget to order backup. The hotel’s operations and projects team must remember to order and keep 50 to 100 metres of special customised fabrics – or about 10 per cent of the total order – as a back-up in their inventory as with time, not only does fabric pricing go up but reordering and manufacturing of special fabrics can take more than two weeks, say suppliers. Suppliers often keep extra fabrics in stock for emergencies, but hotels cannot and must not count on such stashes – not all suppliers are able to do this.
Buying larger numbers also helps bring prices down: purchases of 1,000 metres and above are likely to benefit from discounted rates.
Cost ranks at the top with durability and delivery lead times when it comes to furnishings. Accordingly, purchase managers must ask around and look at various different options before settling on a quote. But beware – if a price is almost too good to be true, it probably means the supplier is cutting corners elsewhere.
BUY CLOSE TO HOME
To prevent such situations, many hoteliers recommend that their colleagues source products from local suppliers wherever possible. Although this is already the trend in food and beverage, it is an idea that has yet to make its way to back of house areas. “Purchase those items which are easily available in market so that it can be procured in future or replaced as well when the need arises,” advises one general manager.
Buy new carpets whenever you like, but remember to check the weather forecast before agreeing an installation date. One should not take delivery during the wet season as the latex should be dry at all times, says one housekeeper. This may not be a problem in Dubai, but it will definitely matter in Amman or in Salalah. “Avoid wet carpets, because once the latex of the carpet gets wet then it becomes difficult for it to dry out and results in it emitting a foul smell,” the houselkeeper says. And nothing turns guests off like a terrible smell. This can easily be prevented by using a dehumidifier in rooms.
A broad spectrum of fabrics are easily available in Dubai that are ideally suited to the region’s climatic conditions. Keep in mind also that climate varies across the subcontinent – what works in the UAE may not work in Iraq.
DON’T GET CAUGHT OUT BY TRAFFIC
Given the intense wear and tear that hotels face across their interiors, buying products that withstand heavy traffic is essential.
“While purchasing a new fabric, the various textures, colours and patterns that supplement the overall décor of the room is taken into consideration. The important thing to keep in mind is how the piece of furniture is going to be used,” says one housekeeper. “Certain fabrics may not be ideal for the type of upholstering for a piece of furniture. For example, while furnishing a sofa, you need to take into account that the couch is likely to be used a lot and is prone to some spills and stains. So choose a fabric that can withstand these or that can be cleaned easily. Fabrics with some texture often disguise stains and wear better than something smoother, which is why chenille, velvets, woven fabrics, ‘Nubby’ cottons and synthetics are popular choices.”
The biggest mistake hoteliers can make when it comes to buying furnishings is to buy without trying. “The Hotel industry should insist on the rub test of a fabric, as this would ensure quality product and also viability of the fabric in the intended area of use,” says the spokesperson from the supply company we spoke with. A rub test, which determines fabric strength, is a back-and-forth motion that approximates the wear and tear that comes from someone sitting down or getting up from an upholstered seat, 3,000 double rubs equals one year’s worth of use.