Make the Most of COVID-19 Downtime
Updated: Jun 23, 2020
Reduced occupancy triggered by travel restrictions and social distancing has created a unique window for ADA and green renovation
Hoteliers are being hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, witnessing historically low customer demand, reduced rates, and unprecedented cancellations. But some are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel and are making the best of the slowdown. Recognizing now is the ideal time to get construction projects completed, they are tackling everything from major Property Improvement Plans (PIP) to small but important maintenance jobs.
"With interest rates nearing zero, funding a hotel renovation has never been more affordable. Also, hotel construction typically involves disruption of operations and guest services, so timing a renovation during this low demand period couldn't work out better," said Sam Cicero, President of Cicero's Development Corp., a general contractor specializing in renovating hospitality properties. "Finally, with economic reports suggesting more new hotels will be coming online over the next couple years, renovation is key to remaining competitive."
Two areas ripe for renovation are ADA compliance measures and the installation of sustainability technology into operations. If a hotel owner decides to make lemonade out of this sour situation by investing in improvements, Cicero suggests these two projects can help maximize your returns when the economy re-opens.
Hotels have increasingly been the targets of ADA Title III lawsuits. A handicapped guest who feels that they have been discriminated against by a hotel’s lack of effort to remove barriers can hire an attorney and file suit in Federal Court. If you are not sure about what needs to be done in your hotel for compliance, consider retaining an access specialist to perform an ADA inspection. For example, hotels must set aside a required number of accessible guest rooms depending on their key count. Accessible guest rooms must be dispersed among the various classes of guest rooms, and provide choices of types of guest rooms, number of beds, and other amenities comparable to the choices provided to other guests.
To meet ADA compliance requirements a hotel owner should consider:
Upgrading public and company restrooms
Widening door frames and installing accessible hardware on doors
Adjusting water fountains
Replacing problematic flooring
Adding railings or grab bars in appropriate locations
Creating or improving accessible parking
Installing ramps or creating curb cuts at entrances
Rearranging furniture and other features to reduce barriers to service.
Plumbing, lighting and HVAC are major expenses for every hotel. Deploying LED lighting, low-flow showers, dual-flush toilets, EnergyStar® systems, and faucet aerators will reduce utility costs compared to traditional products by 15-30 percent or more. In addition, there are often utility rebates, tax breaks and government grants that reward owners for being good stewards of the environment. Taking these steps can also increase the overall customer experience by promoting staying in a green building. Many states and federal agencies have government issued mandates requiring employees traveling on business to stay in green hotels.