Preventative maintenance is critical to many areas of hotel operations, but it takes on added importance when it comes to resort pools. Industry experts agree that hoteliers must be vigilant about taking care of their pools to keep their hotels above water in many ways, including financially.
Regular inspections, for example, are something all properties should strongly consider, according to Jerry Smith, founder, American Sealants Inc., a Grand Junction, Colorado-based company that creates custom water features and has worked on pool projects at such high-profile resorts as Atlantis in The Bahamas.
“I think the biggest thing is that when you have a commercial pool, it needs to be inspected and maintained by a professional company,” said Smith, who added, “You have to do preventative
Smith emphasized some key factors that operators tend to overlook, particularly as it relates to extreme weather conditions, when putting pools in and maintaining them.
“What we see is people build the pool and they keep the chemicals correct, but they don’t pay attention to what the temperatures are outside. When it gets cold everything kind of shrinks and when it gets hotter everything expands. So, you have to pay attention to the finer points and look for small cracks and damage to the pool in the wintertime and in the summertime. Little things can be picked up quickly and inexpensively, and if they don’t [notice them] then you’re looking at the potential of having to bring the pool down,” said Smith, who added, “Underwater injection work is not cheap.”
“Leak detection is a big deal from an insurance standpoint and can save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars if you spring a leak somewhere.”Todd Felsen, President/CEO | OTH Hotels Resorts
He said that his home state of Colorado, for example, is subject to “massive temperature swings,” sometimes ranging from 20 degrees below at night to 70 degrees during the day. However, Smith pointed out there are ways to minimize the impact.
“If you know that you’re going to get a real cold temperature snap, you warm the pool water up a little bit. That helps offset it,” he noted.
Meanwhile, technology can be a game changer when it comes to detecting leaks or cracks in the pool, according to Todd Felsen, president/CEO of Williamsburg, Virginia-based management company OTH Hotels Resorts, who touted the financial value of leak-detection systems.
“Leak detection is a big deal from an insurance standpoint and can save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars if you spring a leak somewhere. We focus a lot on leak detection, and we actually have sensors on our hot water heaters and pool pumps,” he said. Felsen further pointed out that when the sensor senses water, an alert is sent out to the chief engineer’s cell phone detailing just where the issue is and that it needs to be addressed immediately.
He continued, “We tested this for about four or five months to see if it was really worth it, and the answer is ‘Yes, it is.’ We’ve had insurance claims with pool pumps before, and these pool pumps can have hairline fractures and then they explode from all the pressure from the pipes. These leak-detection systems are huge.” Felsen added that these types of systems can be useful for anything in the hotel that produces water, such as refrigerators, ice makers, and dishwashers.
Smith reinforced the point, noting, “Some of these leak-detection systems are amazing; they pull things up quickly.” However, he did add that, in general, companies should proceed cautiously with technology because “if you don’t know how to operate it and you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re just wasting everyone’s time.”
Smith noted that the company still uses effervescent dyes for leak detection and finds them effective in identifying “exactly where it’s coming from.” He further emphasized the importance of efficiently identifying leaks. “Water is very unique; it will find its way. You can have a leak in the top right-hand corner of your swimming pool, and it comes out in the bottom left-hand corner of your pool.”
Finally, efficient water filtration is always a top priority for hoteliers, according to Tracy Ripa, VP, franchise operations, Wyndham Hotel Group, who strongly recommended one platform in particular.
“Ecolab has a great new filtering system for the pools. So, we encourage the franchisees to look into how they can get better and more efficient use of their pools and keep them clean,” she noted.