Hotel Renovations: Maintaining the Guest Experience

Renzo Maugeri
In the hospitality industry, guest experience is everything. To keep the quality of that experience high and to keep customers returning, hotel owners must continually update and refresh their properties.

Contractors who do renovation work for hotels are generally working on projects for several hotel chains at once, from St. Louis to Kansas to Washington, D.C. - without an in-depth knowledge of the property's brand. Partnering with Faithful+Gould’s Hospitality, Arts, & Leisure (HAL) sector helps ensure that the property’s ownership, brand and guest experience are all protected during a renovation. With experts who have come from careers on the owner’s side of the table, we have insider knowledge of how hotels work and how construction projects impact both the bottom line and the experience of visitors and staff. To date, we have worked on more than 600 projects in the hospitality sector, representing more than $25 billion in construction.

To date, we have worked on more than 600 projects in the hospitality sector, representing more than $25 billion in construction.

Generally, individual hotels maintain an engineering staff reporting to a central chief engineer; this on-site staff takes care of day-to-day maintenance and repairs. In addition, some hotel companies have in-house interior designers. However, when a large renovation project is planned, hotels generally need to hire outside designers and contractors to take on the bulk of the work. Managing this process - from researching design and contracting firms to managing the bidding process to maintaining the budget and schedule - is where our project management services come in. Working in conjunction with in-house design and engineering staff (or, on some projects, acting as sole owner’s representative), Faithful+Gould becomes an extension of the hotel to ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget and with minimal disruption to guests and staff.

Faithful+Gould becomes an extension of the hotel to ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget and with minimal disruption to guests and staff.

Bringing the multiple pieces of the project, from ordering furniture to installing plumbing, together is like directing an orchestra: each piece must happen at exactly the right time to ensure a harmonious whole. To make sure that happens, you must start with a project execution plan, which outlines for the hotel owners what each piece of the process is and when it will take place, and how the entire process will remain "invisible" to guests and staff. For example, the overall renovation is best performed during a less-busy season for the hotel, and contractor schedules must be planned to minimize noise during the early morning or late at night. Furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) must be installed at night to avoid putting elevators and stairwells off limits during peak hours - and if the elevators themselves are being renovated, the work must be phased to ensure that at least some cars are available for guest and contractor use. Trash generated by demolition and construction must be removed quickly and efficiently. And finally, the plan must consider fire and life safety throughout the project, since construction may involve tools that could cause fire or could temporarily block access to stairs or elevators.

...the overall renovation is best performed during a less-busy season for the hotel, and contractor schedules must be planned to minimize noise during the early morning or late at night.

Brand standards are another major consideration, from the look of the furniture and fixtures right down to the size and speed of elevators. Every hotel - even different properties owned by the same parent company - has its own brand standard that contributes to the guest experience. While brand standards define a hotel, they also raise the price for construction and renovation. For these elements of a project, Faithful+Gould‘s role is as 'traffic cop', working with architects and contractors to ensure that all standards, from masonry to paint finishes, are incorporated into the plans and then into the finished product.

To its visitors, a hotel is essentially a rented home. By partnering with our hospitality clients to become a seamless extension of their team during a renovation, we help make each property as safe and comfortable as the home its guests live in.