Hoteliers are gearing up and homing in on their to-do lists to prepare their properties and employees for the summer leisure season.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Preparing a hotel and its staff for a busy summer season takes a great deal of planning and attention to detail, sources said.
“Essentially the whole operations change like the seasons do,” said Danielle Inzano, director of sales and marketing at New York City’s Dream Downtown. “It’s a pretty significant process that goes on.”
Appearance is key
Inzano said one of the main focuses with seasonal preparation is appearance.
“We spend a significant amount of money on our pool area, our landscape areas, our seating areas (and) our outdoor terrace areas,” she said.
Inzano said it takes about a month to prepare the property’s pool area, which includes shipping in sand from the Maldives.
Michael Anderson, GM of the Marina Del Rey Hotel in California, said the property’s event lawn hosts several social functions and weddings throughout the summer. In preparation, he said, landscapers will reseed the grass to a “heartier bladed grass to withstand the foot traffic and weather.”
The event lawn, hotel signage and the entrance of the lobby are all updated and dressed with colorful summer florals, typically in April, he said.
Because public spaces are the guests’ first impression, Anderson said, the hotel lobby, lift landings and all public-space furniture are deep cleaned prior to Memorial Day.
Jill Cole, managing principal and president of design firm Cole Martinez Curtis and Associates, said most hotels and big-box brands don’t refresh designs for summer, mostly due to the cost and lack of storage for seasonal items.
However, a new trend her design firm is seeing now is the use of lighting to change up an atmosphere.
She said hotels are starting to experiment more with LED to change the color of lights, which can be a seasonal technique.
Another trend at hotels is the use of digital art walls to reflect the changing of seasons, Martinez said.
Beefing up staff
Properly staffing for the season is crucial, Anderson said. The seasonal hiring process for the Marina Del Rey Hotel starts in late April and May with a job fair as well as reaching out to area employment centers, he said.
“From Memorial Day until Labor Day, we hire one or two full-time housekeeping team members to be on pool deck (and) gym duty for cleanliness,” he said.
Anderson said the hotel also brings on additional staff in the banquets, restaurant, housekeeping and guest services departments.
Inzano said Dream Downtown beefs up its pool staff, lifeguard crew, pool bar staff, bell staff and front-desk team during the summer, when it typically attracts longer-stay travelers.
Anderson and Inzano agreed it’s also important to refresh staff uniforms for the season, especially for the valet team and pool staff, using lighter and brighter colors.
Hotel food and beverage should also get a seasonal refresh.
Inzano said the summer menu at The Beach at Dream Downtown* will feature F&B that translates to the pool area, including California-style cuisine.
“We’re really not trying to weigh people down with heavy burgers and things like that—yes, we do have French fries and cravings—but we want to do some cold brews this year and some more iced coffee,” she said.
Anderson said the Marina Del Rey Hotel also changes out its menu items seasonally.
“An example is our new ceramic egg grill, where chefs will grill fresh fish and meats on the patio on the weekends,” he said. “We do the same for the beverage side. At the pool, we look to see what worked for the previous year.”
This summer, the hotel will feature a new cocktail menu, Anderson said, adding that he recommends fresh sangria instead of wine.
Refreshing old items
It’s also important to look at the wear and tear of the previous season’s furniture, fixtures and equipment, sources said.
“We make decisions on understanding how valuable our pool is to our neighborhood and our overall brand name,” Inzano said. “We really reinvest.”
The Dream Downtown recently invested in new pool chairs, umbrellas, pool lights and spent almost $15,000 on a new pergola near the pool.
If a hotel isn’t able to refresh its FF&E, Martinez suggests decorating with plants or changing the scent in the lobby for a fresh feel.
Stock up on amenities
Inzano cautioned hoteliers to not underestimate the amount of towels and other amenities needed during the summer months—especially the uptick in water consumption and usage.
“A summer traveler needs the essentials; we like to carry sunscreen, a lot of cold bottled water,” she said.
*Correction, 11 May 2018: This story has been updated to give the correct name of the Dream Downtown's restaurant.