Would you like some e-coli with your coffee?
This issue is as divided as who came first, the chicken or the egg. Some people feel that placing the coffee maker in the guestroom bathroom is logical because it involves using water, therefore it’s easier to just have this machine near the sink to fill and wash. While this concept works in a kitchen environment, a bathroom is a whole other pile of……….well, you know.
From a hygienic point of view, having any kind of a food product in an environment that has a higher tendency for bacteria floating around is just not a good idea. Coffee makers oftentimes have open grills or vents for the steam which also makes them easy access openings for any floating bacteria particles to get into. Studies have shown that airborne bacteria from flushing toilets, use of towels, clothing, as well as coughing and sneezing can land on surfaces in the bathroom on a regular basis. While a wipe-down with detergent will kill the majority of these bacteria making the bathroom clean and sanitary, the housekeeping staff is not cleaning out the coffee makers inside and out on a daily basis to guarantee the same sanitary conditions.
Designers hate to place the coffee maker in the room, calling it an “eyesore” or carving out valuable real estate to place it on one of the few horizontal furniture surfaces. But rather than making it an after-thought and merely sticking it in somewhere the day before opening, we need to accept the fact that guests like to brew their own coffee, many of whom own personal brewer systems at home. To avoid any health issues, it is better design practice to place these appliances in the guestroom or foyer area rather than in the bathroom itself. Besides, coffee tastes better without bacteria.
You may go and get your anti-bacterial now.
It’s not easy being green, especially when you’re fake!
Please know that I’m not saying your should NEVER use artificial plants in a hotel environment. There are many beautiful and realistic artificial plant and tree products in the market that have been successfully used in hotel projects around the world. I myself have designed and implemented several artificial plants and trees in many of my projects.
The caveat with using artificial landscaping is that the hotel property may feel that this will not require a horticulture maintenance contract and that these plants/trees can be self-sufficient. While not needing any trimming or watering, what they do need is cleaning on a regular basis to avoid turning them into giant dust collectors. What’s the point of bringing the outside in when it starts to look like a lint trap?
The whole purpose of having plants in an interior environment is to assist in cleaning and purifying the air, as well as to add a natural aesthetic touch to any space. But when you’re creating a magnet for dust, germs, and other contaminants, it sort of defeats the original purpose.
Regular cleaning and dusting with either damp cloths or air pressure cleaners will need to be a part of the hotel maintenance schedule to avoid build-ups. Make sure that as a designer you discuss the commitment with the hotel property before inheriting them with a 200-lb dust bunny to take care of!
Don’t use loose throw pillows in a Hotel lobby
This was a lesson I personally learned the hard way. After a day of carefully placing a variety of colorful custom throw pillows specially designed for a Hotel lobby project, I returned to the office and within 7 days received a call from the property that the throw pillows had been mysteriously disappearing. Apparently the guests checking out of the hotel felt I had placed these beautiful accessories as parting gifts for them to take as a souvenir from the hotel. In looking at the bright side, I consoled myself by knowing my design aesthetic was being displayed in private homes all around the nation, but when it comes to the hotel reality, we were back to square one.
Unfortunately, even though the expendable income of the average hotel guest has increased, the old hotel adage still exists – if it’s not nailed down, it will walk away!! If you’re going to use throw pillows in a lobby, just make sure they are attached or semi-attached, making it a lot more difficult for a guest to simply “accidentally” grab one on their way out! These are hotel accessories and not decorative “after dinner mints” for the guests to take.
The other non-spoken issue with throw pillows is the fact that they can also become living, breathing petri dishes in the hotel lobby. With the amount of traffic that moves through a lobby on a daily basis, people, especially the young ones, tend to grab onto these pillows, move them around, throw them on the floor, have “pillow fights”,etc. You can be almost guaranteed that these pillows do NOT get cleaned on a regular basis which means that every time housekeeping rearranges them neatly back into their places, the germs, dust, and all other fun things that are in the pillows or on the surface have also been neatly placed for your entertainment as well!
Accessories are an integral part of “decorating” any space, and throw pillows add a touch of home and a pop of color to any space. If you do use these decorative accents, then make sure that the fabrics used are durable, easy to clean, and made from materials that will be as “anti-microbial” as possible. Also make sure that they are tied down somehow, either fully attached or semi-attached to avoid them becoming active members of the lobby area as much as possible. Or souvenirs. That’s what the gift shop is for!
Don’t use solid color carpet in heavy traffic areas
There are some designers that want to think outside the box and feel the need to change things up a bit in Hotel design. But sometimes, the box is there for a reason. One such popular idea is to do away with patterned carpet and instead use the more modern approach of a solid color carpet. Why is this a bad idea? Oh, let me count the ways….
Flooring is one of the largest surface areas in any room, and when you use a solid color, it naturally draws your attention to it. You want to use solid carpet in your home? Not a problem. In a Hotel environment, however, this can turn into a hot mess. First, a solid color will show every piece of paper, fuzz, dust bunny, or dirt spec that falls on it. Second, most cut pile carpets have what is called a “nap”, or a textured surface that looks different depending on how it is combed. If you’ve ever vacuumed your carpet at home, you have noticed how the color changes depending on which direction you move the vacuum. In a hotel this is accentuated by the vacuums, the housekeeping carts, and even the guest suitcases. Patterns in the carpet can disguise this, but with a solid carpet it is front line and center, giving a perception of messiness.
Lastly, solid colors show dirt, and there is no way to disguise it. Between the grease from the cart or suitcase wheels and the gunk on the bottom of shoes, if you put solid carpeting in any public area you may as well refer to it as a walk-off mat, because that’s what it will look like after a couple of weeks, especially the light-to-medium colors. Patterned or print carpets tend to hide more “sins” as well as add a more aesthetic element to the floor surface, allowing the property to have more time between carpet replacements. Make sure that the hotel guest aren’t treated to the previous guests’ left-overs with stains and marks on the carpet.
So word to the wise, if you want to be “moderne”, express yourself with the furniture, not the carpet. Boxes can be good. Learn to work with the box.
Don’t use marble countertops in bathrooms or bars
You don’t need Michelangelo to tell you that marble is one of nature’s most beautiful creations. When used properly, it can add a level of luxury and sophistication to any Hotel project. Composed primarily of Calcite, marble can be used as either a polished finish or a honed (dull) finish on both walls and floors. But the flip side is that Calcite makes it a very porous material, which means that marble is highly susceptible to stains and acids. This means that marble should NOT be used anywhere that needs heavy chemicals (such as bleach or ammonia) on a daily basis, like bathroom or bar counter tops. This daily cleaning which is required by health code in these areas will literally disintegrate the marble tops.
Wine, coffee, & cranberry juice will also easily stain marble, which makes it inadvisable to use in food and beverage applications. Granite and other aggregate conglomerates are much better choices, giving the look of natural stone, but with the durability needed to stand up to use and abuse. While one may argue that the Coliseum and the Parthenon are still standing and they’re made out of marble, I have to remind everyone that the Greeks and the Romans were not into the Hospitality business. For the rest of the world, we have to make sure our countertops don’t look like the Lines of Nazca after a few weeks! Be aware of the materials you specify, and make sure you understand their limitations in the application. Cheers!