By Matt Assenmacher
When it comes to renovations, resorts have endless choices to make. Selecting the right design, sourcing materials and finding the right contractor to implement the resort’s vision are vitally important. Resorts are generally heavily involved with the design selection process yet step back during sourcing and implementation. Making sure you have the right partner or partners for these aspects of your project is essential for the success of your renovation.
In my experience, the secret to making sure a project stays within the budget and agreed-upon time frame is establishing a comprehensive process management plan. This plan starts with strategically evaluating material sourcing to identify cost-saving opportunities and includes a comprehensive project schedule and means to manage material inventory and quality control.
Below, I’ve outlined five key factors that support comprehensive process management of flooring and stone projects, ensuring quality resort renovations.
- Quality Contractors: According to the 2018 U.S. Census, construction spending in the lodging sector is the highest it has been since 2008, creating a shortage of experienced, qualified contractors. Ensure that the contractor you use is experienced and well-vetted by asking for references and results from comparable projects.
Capable contractors should provide you with regular updates on construction progress, schedule adherence and material inventory management. Additionally, throughout the renovation progresses, contractors should provide your team with quality control (QC) reports that identify potential issues that may affect installation and allow the team to address them before they become a post-installation problem. Along the way, make sure contractors are adhering to the installation methods set forth by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and to the quality standards set by your resort.
- Strategic Material Sourcing: Experienced suppliers can help value-engineer (VE) your projects by finding materials that match the designer’s intent AND save money compared with the specified material. It’s important to note that most suppliers are not manufacturers and may utilize multiple sourcing resources. Make sure your supplier has demonstrated that their sources are vetted to confirm the material will match expectations and can be produced and delivered in time to meet the project schedule. We not only meet with our suppliers, we visit their quarries and factories to personally inspect their materials.
- Product Knowledge: Contractors should be aware of which products are right for the job. Large-format tiles are popular in many designs now, but present unique installation challenges. Due to their heavier weights, the proper premium polymer modified thinsets that are engineered specifically for these tile types should be used – generally designated LFT or LHT. Standard thinsets are not formulated to support the weight of large tiles, and they will slump during installation.
Additionally, many large wood-look plank tiles have a degree of warpage that results as part of the manufacturing process. To counter the effect, we recommend using leveling wedges and clips. Both slumping and warpage can lead to uneven tile edges, known as lippage, which creates tripping hazards for your guests and lessens the aesthetic appeal of the installation. Be sure to work with contractors that are familiar with the challenges of modern tile styles and the proper installation techniques associated with them.
- Timing: Meeting deadlines is a must, as resorts can’t afford to have reserved rooms out of service. Realistic timelines can be created in advance of any project by properly examining the scope of work and balancing that with the needs of the resort. Your engineering team will typically be involved with the contractor on schedule development, but make sure your meetings and events, as well as room staff are allowed to provide input as well. Using a contractor that will actively manage the renovation process is a necessity. Open communication and hands-on management are key to ensuring guests aren’t displaced.
- Low Guest/Revenue Impact: Full, and even partial, resort shutdowns typically aren’t financially feasible. By utilizing a rolling renovation schedule – working at night or floor by floor – you can minimize project impact on daily resort operations and the guest experience.
No matter the venue, volume or season, a keen focus on process management is vital to a successful resort renovation. With a comprehensive plan in place and the right contractor on your side, you can ensure the completion of a top-quality project that is delivered on time, the first time.
Matt Assenmacher is managing partner of Top Tile & Stoneworks, a commercial flooring and stone contracting business that has completed more than 70 projects within the luxury, upper upscale and upscale segments of the hotel and lodging industry. He is also founder and managing partner of ViaMaris Imports, a strategic sourcing business that supplies high-quality and cost-effective stone and tile products for new construction and remodeling projects. The companies’ client portfolio includes Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, Marriott, Westin, St. Regis and Omni Hotels, among others. For more information, visit www.TopTile.net and www.ViaMarisImports.com.