Holiday Inn Buena Park: Javier's Renovation Blog

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Renovation... By The Numbers

I am a little late writing this bit for you faithful readers.  We finished the last of the rooms a couple of weeks ago.  It’s almost anti-climactic because after the last room door was closed with a room ready to rent, we were still in a ‘go’ mode.  This week, we have a crew going back through and installing the artwork and mirrors that arrived late.  They will be finished Friday.  Sometime in the next couple of months we will enter the rooms again to place lamps because that component was also delayed.  And the bathrooms will be handled in quick order sometime in November/December.

Looking back at the process and thinking about how many times we moved each television armoire with the heavy granite top, made me start thinking of the numbers involved.  Here is a sampling of it all:

399 Serta Ultra Plush bed sets
9270 Square Yards of carpet and pad
6800 yards of wall vinyl for the accent wall
247 custom wood valances
494 drapery side panels (2 per room)
241 custom refrigerator cabinets
74 custom sofas, 860 yards custom fabric
161 lounge chairs
242 ergonomic desk chairs
248 refrigerators
821 pieces of art
236 framed mirrors
242 wall sconces,
246 desk lamps
337 nightstand lamps
174 floor lamps

Ok, you get the picture, I don’t want to list the number of GFI outlets, illuminated light switches, door viewers, security latches, evacuation signs, wall plates, black-out and sheer drapes,  door closers, hinges, corner guards, wall protectors, etc.

So it appears that it is time to rest… but Nooooo!  We will soon begin work in the public areas…so stay tuned!

In Keeping with Innkeeping

Javier Solis

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Long Hall

The morning that we entered the penultimate floor for renovation, we stood there and pondered…it has been a long haul. Of the total of eight floors that we will eventually complete, we have finished with six of them. That is nearly 200 rooms, each with its own set of issues. We moved every piece of furniture in those rooms, after the carpet was installed; we swept the corners, and vacuumed it. We replaced electrical outlets, outlet covers and disconnected and reconnected TV’s, lights, etc. We brought in new box springs and mattresses, pulled off the plastic cover and laid them down carefully. I could go on and on describing the process, but suffice to say, that if not for taking it in small bites, it would have felt overwhelming. Throughout that project, we have developed a routine that has gradually become more and more efficient. That well-oiled renovation machine may experience a monkey wrench as we start one of two floors that have the most rooms in them. This batch of rooms also has a greater scope of work because among other things, we are removing crown molding that Holiday Inn dislikes. In preparation for the work this time we have protected the hall carpet with a plastic cover.


In the early morning with the sun shining at one end of the hall the resulting image looks ethereal, almost dreamlike and the light limits the ability to see the other end. This stresses to the team just how long this hall is. I heard but have not confirmed that it is 300 feet long. Wait, 300 feet – that equals 100 yards, or the length of a football field…really???

Now I know why kids just can’t’ help themselves when they see the hall, they have to sprint down it. To the renovation crew, the length represented that many more steps that will be needed to move furniture, carpet, tools, etc. Still, here we go….

I’ll let you know when we get to the other side!

In keeping with Inn-keeping,

Javier Solis

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Behind Closed Doors

Here it is almost the end of July and the thick of things in terms of summer business. The attractions are bursting at the seams. I heard that on Fourth of July Disneyland was at capacity by ten in the morning! Still, there is an ebb and flow to the level of visitors that grace our area during summer months. Thursdays through Saturdays we see many families with excited children either itching to go in the mornings or returning with various degrees of sugar highs in the afternoons and evenings. Sunday through Wednesday our typical guests tends to be business people rushing out in the morning to that important appointment.

Through all this, we have quietly gone about our business of renovating our hotel rooms. The level of logistics management has required pretty intensive brain power because we still want to keep our rooms occupied and take advantage of the summer demand. To this point we have completed the renovation of roughly half of the rooms while housing hundreds of guests. So…the obvious question is how can that be? We usually associate renovation work: installing carpet, changing beds, installing wall vinyl painting doors, etc. as dusty, noisy work, which would not be appealing to people seeking rest.

I am proud that we have successfully reached this point of the project with nearly zero negative impact on our guests. In fact, we had someone mention in a social media site that the only way they found out about our project was seeing some trucks that were delivering beds. This feat has not been by accident. Our team has strategically been planning their work with our guest in mind. Chuck, our project Manager will save “quiet work” for the morning hours. Any noisy work is done when most of our guests are away during the middle of the day. The same mentality is applied to everything we do. We have been renovating whole floors at a time so we can eliminate access to the floor so guests never walk through a construction zone. I am including a photo of an access point.

Behind Closed Doors - Renovation Access Door

At the beginning of each floor, a wall is put in place with a lockable door. Sometimes dozens of crew members from various trades are behind closed doors making our rooms beautiful…but you would not know it by looking, because we are doing it all…behind closed doors.

Behind the 'closed door': Renovation at Work!

New Beds ready for installation

Moving Entry Door - getting ready for the next floor

In keeping with Inn Keeping,
Javier Solis
General Manager
Holiday Inn Buena Park

Monday, June 18, 2012

All Hands On Deck!

As it happens in project with a deadline and a lot of moving parts, something always seems to come to throw the schedule off. The first floor of our renovation project ended up being on a time crunch.

It was actually a thing of beauty for the most part in that trucks bearing ‘gifts’ arrived at the correct time and workers were moving things in and out of the rooms in a symphonic tempo. Mattresses and box springs were removed from the rooms, sofa beds were taken down, lounge chairs and desk chairs joined the line. The rooms seemed empty for just a few minutes and then the ordered was reversed. The truck full of old items began its trek off the parking lot and a truck with the new mattresses and box springs arrived, followed by the truck bringing sofa beds and then lounge chairs and desk chairs. The Housekeeping department awaited the setting of the box spring to install the bed skirt and then the mattresses were placed.

 In one day 27 rooms came to life and seemed to be instantly completed and ready for renting. Don’t forget all this followed the in-and-out of wall vinyl installers, painters, and carpet layers. The 8 days of the process ended up squeezing about 12 days of work. Extra time was necessary to do some work on the ceilings. This work forced the renovation crew out of the way and the work slowed down. It took all hands on deck to bring the project back on schedule.

For two days before the rooms came back into the inventory, we had a lot of people working together; Banquets sent a team, housekeeping, and Engineering were there, even the CEO of our company and the Operations Manager from our corporate office pitched in. We installed wall plates, plugged in and tested phones, lamps, radio, televisions, headboards were hung furniture was placed in the correct spot, draperies, black-outs and sheers were hung. Security latches, evacuation signs, bathroom outlets and light switches were replaced. Finally everything was dusted and cleaned, beds were made final punch list done and checked.

Whew! That was tiresome to just talk about and I was just giving you a sampling! And by the way, the day that the floor is ready to go back into service is the day that we begin stripping another floor to begin the process all over again. To date we have done the routine two times. Two floors of the hotel are now renovated. There are some things still to go back and do because of items that we have not received from manufacturers but the rooms are fresh and beautiful. We are now on our third batch of rooms and things are beginning to go smoothlier (is that a word?). All while we enter the peak of our season!

If you are visiting us soon, your chances are quickly increasing of ending up in a newly renovated room!

In keeping with Inn Keeping,

Some photos of the renovation in progress:

Friday, May 25, 2012


Ready, Set...GO!

It feels like it is suddenly upon us. Sure, the window project made it seem very real but it was still just that – one project. Tomorrow we begin the room renovation. A whole floor in the rear building will be blocked off. It is our intention that our guests will not be affected. To that end, we are placing a barrier wall so that the activity and debris of the renovation will not be visible. All the planning and dissecting of the details will be tested. One can plan to clear all linens, amenities, clocks, artwork, etc. out of 27 rooms in one day, but it is another thing to actually be able to do it; we can schedule delivery of bed sets for a specific day, but we can’t control the logistics of that company accomplishing the promised timing. And that is just a couple of phases of the plan! Still, I have been involved in several renovation projects over my many years in the hotel business and have never been part of a better planned project. I hope we are as good at executing it! If we are, we should have one whole floor of newly renovated guest rooms in about 10 days and we will be moving on to the next level. We are giving ourselves some latitude to allow for the learning curve. There are a lot of moving parts to the plan and one hinges upon another. Most likely, something will not work exactly as planned and we will have to improvise and adjust. I think we are up to the task. Chuck, our project manager, has already proven he is able to keep things moving. He and his team installed all the freeway side windows in seven days!

Oh, a note on the windows…turns out the manufacturer will not be able to match our aggressive pace and will not deliver the next batch of windows until July. Of course, we have a lot to do so even though that’s a hitch in our plans, we can work around it.

So things accelerate, all while we head into the busy summer season. As I mentioned above, we REALLY are working hard at minimizing any inconvenience to our guests as a result of the renovation activity. We are taking several measures to that end. Here are just a couple of examples: Instead of a caution tape and a sign, we have build a wall to separate the work area from guest traffic; materials entering and exiting the work area will be mostly via the stairways instead of mixing in with guests in the elevators; and any noisy work will be done during the day only.

That is all for now. I hope you get a chance to come out and visit…who knows, you may end up in one of our newly renovated rooms!

In keeping with Innkeeping,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Closing the Window on Energy Waste

May 7, 2012

Closing the Window on Energy Waste

The papers on my desk flapped as a breeze happily meandered into my office. It was a bit cool so I closed my jacket around me. As I typed, I had to stop every so often and warm my fingers. Suddenly, I had to reach for something else to place on top of a pile of papers because the breeze became a gust of wind. One of the Managers’ walking past my office made a comments about my scramble, but I could not hear what she said. Its rush hour, you see and the freeway traffic is rumbling not 200 yards away.

Although I often threaten to do so when the Southern California weather is at it’s best, I have not moved my office outside. The outside is actually coming inside to bring excitement into my work day. The window to my office has been removed as part of the first batch of windows being replaced with the new energy efficient dual-pane windows. We are rolling now…replacing about ten windows per day and planning to complete the project by the first week of June when the work moves to the room renovation.

After my new window is completed, I can tell the difference. It is quiet in my office. I still hear the rumble but it’s muffled. Aside from the amazing difference in the noise level, which will improve the room experience for our guests, there is another benefit – energy savings. A third party company contracted by Southern California Edison calculated that we will save over 83,000 KWH in electricity annually because of the new windows. As I mentioned in the past, anytime we have made improvements in our equipment, we look for energy saving opportunities.

As the window project rolls, we are still busy finalizing the plans for the room renovation. At this time we plan to start June 12. We are also working out details on other projects such improving the pool and pool deck. That too will be a high impact public facing improvement…and a topic of a future blog!

On the move to green,
Javier Solis

Arrival of the new windows

Prepping window opening

Windows project rolling along

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Details, Details, Details

I got energetic and washed my car last night after work. The weather was very nice so I spent extra time cleaning in all the grooves and crevices inside the car and ‘detailing’ the exterior. Once I got in that mind set and my focus went closer, I kept seeing more things that could be cleaned. When I finished I stood back and thought: Niiice!!!…I could tell that this was not an ordinary car wash job.
Sample Robe Hook

I am having trouble thinking of the correct phrase (after all, this is my second language!). “The pudding is in the details”, “the magic is in the details”, ugh! Anyway, you get my drift; the difference in the quality of the end result of any project is the level of attention to detail. I have been involved my share of hotel renovations in my hotel career (I was going to put in the number of years but it’s a scary number!). The scope of the projects varied but in every case it quickly became evident as we did the work, that there are many little things that had to be addressed. Then as now, the choice is to over-look them and let them ‘blend’ in with the new things being installed or to “sweat the details” and include “the little things” in the scope of the project. Doing so will make a difference when we (and our guests) step back and look at the end result!

Clever New Security Latch
I have been impressed with the team at our corporate office that has been driving our renovation plans and execution. Shawn Doyle, Kim Tjoe and Christine Bacon are drilling down into the nuts and bolts of the room renovation. They have diligently ‘walked through’ every area of the project, considering the small things that may be over-looked in a project this size. Door hinges, door viewers, security latches, towel racks, robe hooks, and many other items are being considered carefully. A plethora of samples has paraded through all our offices and installed in the sample rooms until, just the right items is found. Addressing these items incrementally increases the cost of the renovation but it dramatically improves the result. We could change the carpet, lights, wall vinyl, etc. and leave the old room hinges. It would look good but not as good as when you install new ones. Yet, somebody looking at that may not be able to pin-point the difference, but would definitely notice that something is different and better. The difference is in the details!

Bathroom Door Handle

Inkeeping with inn keeping,

Door Viewer