- Published on Friday, 17 June 2011 12:01
Article Read: 1585
In the heat and humidity of Broome, guest comfort is paramount but so is the cost of the energy to keep them cool.
And with power bills expected to double over the next six years, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa right on the beach in Broome was looking for a power saving solution that was effective, economical, quick and practical to install. With heating and cooling costs representing up to 60% of hotel energy costs, guests leaving their rooms with the air conditioning running is an area where big savings can be made.
For the resort’s project manager, Paul Bullock the solution came from 4000km away in Melbourne from Smart Hotel Solutions’ managing director Doron Danon who specialises in providing energy solutions for hotels.
Smart Hotel Solutions distributes the Energy Eye system made up of a wireless door sensor and wireless motion sensor that detects when a room is occupied and controls the air conditioner.
“In a nutshell, the system takes control of the in room HVAC when guests are out the rooms,” Mr Danon said. “We detect occupancy with a wireless door micro switch as well as a wireless motion detector disguised in the form of a smoke detector.”
“As these units are wireless, it is very easy and quick to install and it literally takes us 25 minutes per room, so hotels do not need to put rooms out of order and hence not lose additional revenue. Depending how aggressive the property wants to be in energy savings, we can either switch the HVAC off or maintain set back temperatures as well. When guests are in the rooms, our system goes into occupied mode and we do not override the HVAC system and the guests are free to do as they please even if they go to sleep – it does not override anything.”
“That is because of our door micro switch, once guests are in the room the system will remain occupied until such time as the main door gets opened again and the motion detector does not pick up motion after the door is closed.”
Mr Danon said the Energy Eye system can be used with any HVAC system (central chillers, PTAC, splits etc) and there are wireless sensors for balcony/lanai doors to switch off the HVAC if these doors are left open.
He said the typical cost of the system fully installed is about $450-$500 per room and can save 25%-40% of the room HVAC usage and costs which equates to about two year return on the investment. It can be installed in a room within 45 minutes.
“In extreme climate conditions such as Broome, ROI works out at about one year,” he said.
“We have also found that in other extreme climates conditions such as Northern Queensland, the payback periods can be better and also depending on the price of electricity.”
The Energy Eye is manufactured in the USA and has been round for a decade but only recently came into its own as energy prices began to skyrocket.
For Mr Bullock the energy savings have been dramatic.
“The savings are huge. I am still staggered we did not do it years ago,” he said. “All our air conditioners are split systems and we had no control over them except for staff going into the room and switching them off.”
“Now we have nothing to worry about.”
The Energy Eye retrofit was part of a soft refurbishment of 176 studio rooms at the 23-year-old resort during the last summer season. Mr Bullock has spent the past five years doing renovations at the resort. Last year he completed a $3 million upgrade of the resort’s pool and external family areas and next summer season has another $1.5 million project on the cards to ‘keep perfecting the brand’.
“Some guests look forward to what we are doing next year and ask what we are up to,” Mr Bullock said. “I just say you have to ‘come back and find out’.”
“We take notice of the guests’ and address any issues raised.”
He said the soft refurbishment cost about $10,000 per room and included new furniture, beds, bed heads, stone bench tops, better lighting and outside furniture. Scott Wilson Design in Perth designed it.
“I started planning in April 2010 and started work in November and had to have it finished by Easter,” he said. “Scott did the original mock-up room so we could see the colour scheme and get an idea of how everything looked.”
“We had an issue with lighting. The black furniture didn’t help and there was not a lot of natural light, so we retrofitted wall lights and lightened the room with white stone bench tops.”
Mr Bullock said the mock-up room also had its back wall knocked out and a window fitted but that is something being considered for the next renovation of the studios.
All the work, except the electrical, was done in-house and saved a substantial amount.
The bedding was supplied by Peacocks Bedding in Kewdale, Perth while the TCL televisions were supplied by Eyezon Digital in Perth.
“We had white stone bench tops custom made to go on top of the black cabinets, purchased outdoor furniture and designed our own indoor furniture.”
Twelve containers of materials were sent Broome to allow the refurbishment to take place.
The resort, has two flood-lit tennis courts, a gym, scope for the children to work off the excess energy with a pool, water splash park for the kids, 9 hole mini golf, while for the adults, the Chahoya Spa which has relaxation covered with seven treatment rooms, a double vichy shower room, hair salon and yoga deck.
The property also includes an adults-only pool as well as three dining options including the beachside Sunset Bar and Grill, Thai Pearl and the signature Club Restaurant. Set in 10ha of gardens, the resort’s accommodation ranges from studio rooms and family bungalows to luxurious butler serviced villas and suites.
Mr Bullock said the best thing about working at the resort was having owners and a general manager that loved the property and are willing to invest money in it rather than pocket all profits.
“It makes my job so much easier” he said.
Now Mr Bullock is planning the renovations for the next summer season.
Have you undertaken any upgrades at your property?