In the hospitality business, many owners see only two worlds to spend money: the front of the house – amenities and features that attract and cater to guests; and that other land known as the back of the house. Most owners place these worlds in different galaxies. Raakesh Patel is not like most owners.
His Super 8 Ukiah, California property strikes a true balance between the two worlds. Indeed, Patel sees things differently, and the primary color he is focused on is green. It’s his passion to show others how eco-friendly lodging makes both sense and cents.
“Green is not just a fad or a marketing theme,” Patel said, adding that he wants to make a difference, not just at his property, but in the world. And with today’s severe drought conditions in California and many parts of the world, conserving water and the earth’s precious resources is critical.
Awarded and Honored
There are more than 7,600 properties under the Wyndham Hotels umbrella. In 2012, however, Patel’s Ukiah, Calif. Super 8 location stood out from the group, garnering the prestigious Wyndham Green Award. This award is presented to owners whose properties have made a concerted effort to engage in practices that contribute to the betterment of the planet and offer guests a green environment.
Patel’s 54-room property brings features that truly set it apart, things such as energy efficient lighting, room systems managed by occupancy sensors, and a recycling program that cut his waste bills in half. His was the first Super 8 in the Wyndham group to install charging stations for electric vehicles, a move he said raised a few eyebrows. That is until people started showing up and plugging in… and raving about the hotel online.
The property’s commitment is evident in a variety of other certifications including: California Green Lodging certification; Platinum certification from Green Business Bureau; four-key rating by Green Key Certifications; and certified gold level by TripAdvisors’ Green Leader program. Super 8 also recognized Patel’s effort by presenting him with the Spirit of Super 8 award.
“It’s an amazing feeling… I feel so honored,” Patel said. But those awards weren’t the culmination of his work; they were just the beginning. “Now I need to do something in the laundry,” Patel said of the next stage in his commitment to the environment.
The Laundry gets green
In that land known as the back of the house, the laundry neighborhood ranks as a necessary evil. Hoteliers often see it as a cost center, only drawing attention when equipment breaks down and loads are stalled.
“One of the most major expenses in a hotel is a laundry,” Patel said. So, naturally, where other owners see a drain on resources, Patel saw opportunity and one that he could make a major impact on with a green focus.
“But it has to be done right,” he added of making sure to perform research in advance of rolling new equipment and system in.
At the time, his dated hard-mount laundry equipment was giving him headaches. An expensive bearing replacement and having to re-pour the unit’s concrete pad had him wondering about a better solution. A conversation with his distributor Viking Service about new Electrolux washers and a PLUS system that eliminated large upfront capital expenditures got him thinking.
“I was wondering, how much more can I really save with new equipment,” he said of his original skepticism of bringing in new Electrolux Professional washers, and just how utilizing the PLUS industry-exclusive pay-per-use system would make good fiscal sense.
Then he started running the numbers on his costs for six to seven loads a day (more in the summer) and he was intrigued. With PLUS – Professional Laundry Utility Service – Patel simply uses the equipment as needed and pays only for that usage – no expensive linen rental or laundry contract. PLUS laundering becomes a utility service – just like water, gas, and electricity. Like any utility, you pay for PLUS only when you use it with no long-term obligation. With a lifetime parts and labor warranty, all parts and service included in the program, he was sold. That’s capital that could be better allocated in other areas of the business. In addition, PLUS systems provide Electrolux Professional laundry equipment that is designed for exceptional results, increased productivity, and the lowest water and energy usage.
A deeper shade of green
Many owners might be satisfied with a move to soft-mount washers boasting super high G-force extraction (450 G-force), which reduces energy usage and cuts drying time significantly from high-speed hard-mount washers. Again, Patel is not like most owners.
When he learned of Smart Dosing, an Electrolux Professional innovation that automatically ensures the proper amount of laundry chemicals are added to match the load size, Patel made sure his Ecolab chemicals were being managed by this technology.
Add in Electrolux’s unique Automatic Water Savings (AWS) system, which adds precisely the correct amount of water to the load size, and water consumption can be reduced by up to 50%.
Patel appreciates the fact that his hotel is partnered with a company just as committed to the environment as he is – Electrolux’s sustainability approach is world-renowned. Electrolux has been recognized by CDP as a climate performance leader, was selected for the Global Compact 100, and is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index which includes the best-in-class environmental performers in the world. Electrolux is constantly working on reducing the environmental impact of products and factories according to the strictest standards.
The results are in
Patel sees the technology he’s employed in his laundry as the perfect recipe to deliver green results and much more.
“I have a system that accurately and efficiently adds up to great savings in dollars and very importantly, for a low impact on the environment,” he said, adding that savings are reflected in lower gas, electric, water, and sewer costs and help reinforce the Energy Star rating for his property.
Patel estimates his laundry savings total 20-25%. But the benefits are reaching much more than his utility bills. Faster cycle times in the laundry have given housekeeping staff additional time to take on other projects in the front of the house – keeping with Patel’s focus on providing the highest quality lodging experience for his guests. Guest surveys show the fruits of his labors, as the property consistently receives high marks and rave reviews online. And the laundry is a key component. Gone are the survey comments from the past mentioning rough towels that felt “like sandpaper.” Now he reads comment after comment about how soft and fresh his linens and towels are, he says.
Involved and spreading the word
Patel isn’t keeping his green initiatives a secret. As a member of the Wyndham Green Advisory Board and Super 8 Franchise Advisory Board, among other lodging associations, he is eager to share all he’s learned. “We have to think and act together,” Patel said. “I want my fellow lodging members to follow my lead; so I spread the word…by going green, save green.” To learn more about PLUS and Electrolux Professional Laundry equipment, please visit: www.laundrylux.com/plus
Reprinted with permission from American Laundry News.