Whether you buy a hotel or develop from the ground up, you will work on a variety of large and small construction and renovation projects as an owner. People who own hotels are not expected to be design or construction specialists. No one has the time or skills to do this alone. Your role is to have the vision, hire the teams and to make sure that the goals are clear the project moves forward. You also make sure vendors are paid when payment is due. Hiring specialists enables you, as an owner, to run your business.
You or property management will find service providers for smaller projects. This is a standard process for hotel owners and their managers.
Expect to pay for these services. And expect the providers you select to make these costs a good value.
For large and complex projects, you will engage a team with the expertise to carry you through the process.
This team will work with you through design, review submittals, budget management, permitting, construction, purchasing, installation, compliance, inspections and opening. Every project has moments of sheer frustration and moments when you wonder if the demolition you see can possibly become the hotel you envision. The process is also exciting, fascinating, and frequently fun. You get to review plans with the architect and interact with the general contractor and as they bring your vision to life. You get to see your ideas translated into color and design with the interior designer. You get to select fabrics and furnishings from choices the purchasing agent presents to you. Ultimately, you see all the pieces come together in the finished hotel.
Steps to project delivery
For large and complex projects, the expert team will lead you through the process. You will have a contract with each team member that specifies what will be delivered, when it will be complete, and when each payment will be due from you. Or you can hire a design/build firm that will provide a package the services as a one-stop shop.
The general process includes:
- You have a vision and concept for the project that is then refined using the brand PIP (Product Improvement Plan) and brand standards for an existing hotel, or your brand and design standards if new construction.
- You select an architect, interior designer, and purchasing (procurement) company. To choose, you issue RFPs (Request for Proposals) to get proposals and interview several companies. The architect and contractor will also work with you to engage other specialists as needed. If your project is large enough and you do not have the resources in house, you may hire a project management firm that specializes in hospitality renovation or construction. They will operate in your best interest while managing these outlined steps. These consultants work with you through design and construction to deliver your project.
- The architect will draw plans and have them approved by the brand and local permitting jurisdiction (city, county, municipality). This will include ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) compliance. This is a multi-step process that includes conceptual and schematic designs, compliance with local/governance codes, bids for the work, and permits.
- You will take bids using an RFP (Request for Proposal) from construction/contracting companies and you can engage a construction manager. The architect will advise you through this process or can be engaged to handle it for you. Ideally, your contractor joins your team on the front end to assist with design related decisions so you can simultaneously have rough cost estimates.
- The interior designer will do the design and specifications for interiors, coordinating with the architect, and have them approved by the brand. You may engage an interior designer who is independent or who works within an architectural firm or within a purchasing company. The interior designer and purchasing company will work with the brand to meet standards and gain brand approvals before construction begins.
- The brand will review plans and comment so the team can bring the project into compliance with brand specifications and pass brand inspections. The local government building department will also review plans and the project must be brought into compliance in order to receive a building permit. Occasionally, the architect or designer will negotiate conflicts in specifications between the brand and the building department.
- The procurement company will take you through the purchasing process, coordinating with the interior designer and architect so all items are approved based on design and delivered according to schedule. The procurement company also coordinates with the brand so the final product is approved. Sometimes, the interior design works for the same architecture or procurement company and can handle additional interior related details like millwork, lighting and space planning. The purchasing agent will coordinate with the brand’s procurement department so that you get the best value. Some projects use the brand’s procurement department directly as their purchasing agent.
- The contractor or architect will obtain the building permit. Once selected, the contractor will deliver the actual project, including engaging sub-contractors like electricians, plumbers and roofers, as needed. The contractor/construction manager or project manager, if one has been retained for the project, will coordinate so the project is delivered on budget, on time and meets specifications including inspections by the brand and the local government’s building department. The construction manager works with the owner on buyout items such as interior signage, food and beverage equipment, exterior signage, washers/dryers, etc. and also reviews pay applications and draw schedules for submission to lenders.
Your role is to stay in touch with your contact from the professionals coordinating the project for you. You should tour often, read project updates daily, and ask questions. You verify that the project is moving along. When there is a snag – like a sub-contractor didn’t receive a check and stops work – you want to know immediately so you can resolve it (call the bank) and keep the project moving.
There are always hiccups and detours – that’s part of the process. You push the project through those hitches. As you move the project forward, it’s exciting to see your furnishings delivered, your design take shape, and your idea translated into a real hotel.