Tackle Capital Improvements with Smart Program Management

II tackle capital improvements

For Florida hotels, handling capital improvements is a tough seasonal challenge. Fall’s brief list of crucial renovations can grow to seem insurmountable by the time occupancy slows in spring. With a few summer months to accomplish 10 or 12 projects, how can hotel general managers stay ahead of the curve to maximize revenues year-round?

Create an accurate game plan

The first step is to group and prioritize needed capital improvement projects. By contracting on an annual basis with a proven construction team, the hotel can obtain a detailed budget and a master schedule for all improvements up front. Planning should be underway in January and completed in early May to ensure all work can be accomplished in the off-season.

Group the projects for efficiency, savings

  • The approach yields significant cost savings. A contractor who plans several, concurrent projects can trim materials costs and deploy staff and subcontractors more efficiently. Also, if detailed budgeting shows that the hotel’s lump-sum estimate won’t realistically cover all projects, it’s better to know that from the start and delay a low-priority project if needed.
  • Having a single point of contact frees the hotel’s GM and chief engineer to focus on the property’s ongoing operations instead of riding herd on a dozen vendors or subs. A contractor with deep experience will team with the architect and interior designer, asking the right questions to produce a buildable, high-quality project. As the hotel’s advocate, the right contractor will be an expert in handling all aspects of capital improvements, from ordering furniture and upgrading systems or common areas, to full-blown construction.

Keep guests happy and revenues high

The guest’s experience is everything. That rule calls for meticulous planning between contractor and hotel GM, to schedule potentially disruptive work during periods of lowest occupancy.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts, for example, brought Miller an intriguing challenge within its 2013 ten-project capital improvements contract: give the Westin Beach Resort & Spa pool deck on Fort Lauderdale Beach a fresh, updated look in time for the busy season. The fast-track summer schedule required keeping the pool area in operation, without impacting guests’ enjoyment. While handling other projects on the property, Miller’s crews phased the pool work. Crews working on the pool deck stayed invisible by creating unique visual barriers and built a fully waterproofed, wood-decked cabana area above Shula’s restaurant.