Smart Bathroom Renovations Enhance Guest Experience and Save Owners Money

When was the last time your resort’s bathrooms were renovated? If it’s been longer than ten years, you’re probably losing money with every flush, every shower and every turn of the faucet.

“While you can’t control your guests’ use of utilities, you can control its operating costs,” said Sam Cicero, Jr., president of Cicero’s Development Corp., a General Contractor specializing in the renovation of hospitality properties. “Through simple, environmentally friendly renovations to plumbing and electric, your resort can significantly lower expensive water and electric bills.”

Cicero’s Development makes energy efficiency part of every resort bathroom renovation. Along with replacing worn cabinetry, updating ugly tiles and swapping out old-fashioned tubs for walk-in showers, Cicero’s will install new fixtures and toilets that look great and meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s water efficiency recommendations.

Resort rooms are more geared towards luxury and relaxing than a hotel room. Resort guests expect more than a serviceable place to sleep, work, or relax. That expectation extends itself to the bathroom. Because guests tend to stay longer in a resort than a hotel they want the bathroom to be more stylish, contemporary and rich in features. In addition, a growing number of travelers want “green” hotels and resorts. A survey of 1,300 U.S. travelers by shows that nearly two-thirds of travelers (62 percent) often or always consider the environment when choosing places to stay. The survey also showed that 69 percent say they plan to make even more eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months.


How much money can a bathroom renovation save a resort? Take the example of a 25-year-old, 100-room property with a 50% occupancy rate that has not had any updates to toilets, showerheads or sink aerators.

Between two guests and the housekeeping staff, a guestroom toilet is flushed 15 times a day on average, using up to 52.5 gallons of water per day based on a pre-1994 3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet or 25 gallons with a newer 1.6 GPF toilet. Multiply that number by 365 days and by 50 rooms and that’s 958,100 gallons flushed away in a year.  However, if 0.8 gallon-per-flush toilets would be installed, the resort’s total would be reduced to as little as 219,000 gallons a year or approximately 75 percent less.

Now, head over to the shower. It is run an average of 23 minutes a day by guests and housekeeping. For an older showerhead that uses three gallons per minute that equates to 1,259,250 gallons a year. By changing to a one gallon-per-minute flow, the showers’ total is reduced to 419,750 a year, preventing the pouring of profits down the drain. Cicero’s often recommends resorts upgrade tubs to walk-in showers. Most people use about 30 gallons of water to fill a tub, according to industry estimates. However, they’ll use only ten gallons of water for a ten-minute shower — a 66 percent reduction.

Same goes for the hand sink. Two guests and housekeeping combine to run it an average of 12 minutes a day, consuming 474,500 gallons per year based on an out-of-date, 2.2 gallon-per-minute sink aerator. A new one gallon-per-minute aerator cuts usage by over 50 percent to 219,000 gallons in a year.

Add it all up and three wise investments to each guest bathroom will save this resort over 1.8 million gallons of water annually — enough to fill three Olympic sized pools.

How much will this lower the resort’s water bill? Factoring an average water rate of $2 per 1,000 gallons used and a sewer rate that is 85 percent of a water bill, an owner can be looking at a savings of over $10,000 per year, which would offset the total cost of the updates in less than two years. Plus, this doesn’t include the additional thousands of dollars it takes to heat the 1.8 million gallons water in the shower or sink, or the water saved in lobby restrooms, kitchens/breakfast areas, and laundry facilities if upgrades were extended there.

Finally, a renovated and stylish resort with new technology will improve occupancy rates. Those who stay once are more likely to stay again. Excellent online reviews can draw in new guests.

Addressing the interior and exterior lighting that runs all day long in a resort can also positively impact the bottom line, said Sam Cicero, Jr, who noted that lighting accounts for about 12% of the total energy costs in a resort or hotel.

“Illuminating a resort to show it in its best possible light and give each area new life doesn’t mean energy efficiency goes out the window,” said Cicero. “New LED fixtures are elegant in design and flexible with color temperatures and dimming capabilities to create different moods.”

LED lighting retrofits are necessary throughout the resort, including the common area, landscape, guestrooms, facade, and decorative applications with special beam angles and color temperature requirements getting fulfilled by the new technology.

For example, consider the difference when antiquated 100-watt incandescent light bulbs are switched to 11-watt LED bulbs. The usage cost based on a rate of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour for one-bulb drops from $105 to $12 a year. The life expectancy of an LED bulb is also 50 times longer, saving replacement and labor costs. Plus, there is also a strong argument for occupancy sensors since guest rooms are unoccupied 70% of the time, yet account for 40-80% of resort energy consumption.

For a resort that has 52 recessed can lights in the lobby that are always on, the total cost including usage and replacement would be reduced from $9,464 to $1,248 a year by making the switch from incandescent to LED lighting. Keep in mind, if you do make any of the above-mentioned improvements, be sure to inquire about any current federal, state, local and utility rebates or incentives that promote water conservation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Finally, shopping utility companies is a smart way to cut down on expensive bills, as there is often more than one electric/energy and natural gas provider in a market. It’s usually free to change over and the savings can amount to thousands of dollars per year.

According to the US Green Building Council, in the United States alone, resorts and hotels comprise more than 5 billion square feet of space and spend in excess of $7.5 billion on energy annually. Investing in renovations to plumbing and electrical systems can positively affect a property from a financial and environmental perspective, helping resorts to become not only ecologically greener, but also have a “greener” bottom line.

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