PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. — Jimmy Buffett’s multimillion-dollar, 162-room Margaritaville Beach Hotel that opened this summer is dedicated to providing its guests a special, luxurious experience.
Hotel employees believe success is found in the details and pride themselves on supplying meticulously clean suites and bright, white linens. And because the quality and cleanliness of these linens is one of the hotel’s signature amenities, the facility’s laundry was a critical component of the housekeeping infrastructure plan.
But beachfront properties pose unique construction and installation challenges, and a number of considerations had to be factored into the design.
The second floor of a parking structure where the on-premise laundry was to be located didn’t provide a slab floor foundation for mounting equipment. Plus, it was mandatory to employ green, cost-effective, energy-efficient operations that maximized throughput while delivering optimal cleaning results.
During the early stages of construction and logistical planning, hotel management turned to Commercial & Coin Laundry Equipment Co. (CLEC), Gulf Breeze, Fla., to develop a collaborative plan that would solve these installation issues and provide them with a green method for cleaning and preserving the fabric of their linens.
The solution also had to save energy and time and accommodate the large volume of laundry processed every day.
The hotel chose the UniMac distributor to serve both as distributor and as consultant based on a positive business experience, according to Joseph McCay, general manager, Margaritaville Beach Hotel. “I have worked with CLEC before, on previous properties, and felt confident in using their consultant services again,” he says.
PROTECTING AN INVESTMENT
Margaritaville Beach Hotel is located on the Gulf of Mexico, and has more than 800 feet of gulf-front property. It offers guests an airy, bright, island-inspired experience complete with beach amenities; a pavilion on the beach is equipped with beach ping-pong, volleyball, hammocks, live music, drinks and snacks.
“While our guests enjoy the beach, we were challenged to find solutions for removing things like sand, cosmetics and lotions from our towels and linens,” says Ronnie Cooley, the hotel’s executive housekeeper. “Each substance poses a different problem. For example, oil-based lotions and cosmetics are difficult to remove, particularly on white fabric.”
McCay says providing crisp, clean, luxurious linens is representative of the hotel and what it stands for.
“Our linens match the hotel’s aesthetic, which is fresh, bright and meticulously clean,” he says. “We made a major investment in luxurious, high-thread-count white linens and bed clothing” that is worthy of protection by installing state-of-the-art, fabric-friendly laundry machines.
VOLUME, THROUGHPUT AND RELIABILITY
With 162 rooms to service daily, the volume of laundry itself was a major challenge. Heavy towels and sheets can require a lot of time to be laundered. Getting more done in less time and, therefore, maximizing throughput was a vital consideration in selecting the right equipment mix.
“The more effective the washer at removing water, the less time is needed in the dryer—shortened dry times extend the life of the fabric, save on energy bills, increase how many loads you can do in a day and, therefore, increase throughput,” says Craig Dakauskas, CLEC vice president.
Throughput is compromised by the slowest piece of equipment—often the dryer—so the installation needed to ensure that laundry staff didn’t spend time waiting for an available dryer, he adds.
Reliability also played a prominent role in what equipment the property selected. Cooley says Margaritaville simply couldn’t afford to risk having a machine go down.
“Any backlog in our laundry services inconveniences our guests and results in complaints to our housekeeping staff, our front desk and eventually to management,” he says. “In order to maintain our high levels of service and guest satisfaction, we need reliable equipment that stays up and running.”
CLEC installed four UniMac 55-pound-capacity soft-mount washer-extractors boasting state-of-the-art microprocessor controls that offer 39 preprogrammed settings, with room for as many as 99 programs.
The washers remove water at speeds of more than 1,000 rpm and G-forces of more than 400—this means less drying time and, as a result, less electricity used.
Five UniMac 75-pound tumble dryers were installed. Wait ... why install five dryers when there are only four washers?
While four dryers could manage the volume, the fifth machine was installed as a time-saving measure, ensuring there would be no waiting for a dryer, therefore maximizing throughput. The laundry can produce approximately 15,400 pounds per week when operating at full capacity.
“The equipment is extremely dependable,” Cooley says. “But, should we have a problem, service is only a call away. And CLEC stops by regularly to make sure the machines are functioning optimally, to answer questions or to provide training for any of the laundry staff.”
SAVINGS AND SATISFACTION
“We’re saving money across the board,” Cooley continues. “We’ve utilized a soak cycle that soaks stained linens overnight. They come out stain-free and white. We’re saving water, energy and linens.”
Adding an ozone system brought extra efficiencies and greater cost savings by shortening wash cycles, enabling faster fill rates and using 90% less hot water, hotel management says.
“In my 16 years of working in laundry services, I haven’t come across a better system,” says Bonnie Wilson, head of laundry for Margaritaville Beach Hotel. “I love working with the equipment. The washers agitate and extract water very well, and the control panels are easy to use. The reverse tumbler dryers prevent larger-sized loads, containing king- size sheets and comforters, from bundling up. Reverse tumbling allows air to flow through the fabric better—allowing it to breathe. This helps to extend the life of the fabric.”
Guests consistently give housekeeping top scores in hotel surveys, management says, and laundry staff have the tools they need to be successful. Significant savings on energy bills have been realized, and the Margaritaville Beach Hotel is doing its part to be green.
And success is being measured daily. “We’re getting great word-of-mouth. We have people stopping in just to see the rooms,” McCay says.