Mr. Roedel, III

Development & Construction

How to Successfully Renovate Hotel Properties: Tips for Controlling Costs and Maintaining Quality

By Fred B. Roedel, III, Partner & Managing Member, Roedel Companies, LLC

Keys to a successful renovation

Renovation projects are successful only when all involved parties are aware of and plan for the unique challenges they pose. Completing renovations in an operating hotel, making today's standards work in an older building, completing work within a short down period, and effectively dealing with existing and unknown conditions without negatively impacting the budget, the schedule or guests are just a few common challenges.

The keys to a successful renovation project involving one or more hotels are:

  • Having a clear vision and objective for the project.
  • Defining standards for the time, cost and quality of the project.
  • Outlining scopes of work and linking them directly back to the objective and performance standards.
  • Developing a well-conceived and reliable schedule that integrates operations and construction to ensure a smooth transition for transitioning guestrooms in and out of service during the renovation process.
  • Involving qualified contractors who truly understand the work they are undertaking, have the resources necessary to meet the schedule and budget, and the experience to deal with unexpected challenges.

Project Team

No matter how large or small they are, all renovation projects have a set amount of dollars assigned to them. One of the best ways hotel owners and investors can ensure that projects are completed within a defined budget is to pull together a team of professionals who have extensive hotel experience and will work together to oversee the entire renovation process. Core team members should include owners/investors, operators, designers and contractors. Not including construction expertise early on in the process typically lowers the reliability meeting time, cost and quality standards.

Objective / Vision & Performance Standards

A clear vision and objective are critical elements to keeping renovation projects on track. Standards must be defined regarding time, cost and quality prior to starting a project.


  • Time standards include the time allotted for assessing a property, designing the renovation, bidding the work and completing the work.
  • Time includes the actual hours that construction can occur, e.g. 9AM - 3PM.
  • Staying focused on time standards is critical to a renovation project since customers will be staying at the property and the operations staff must be able to do their jobs. Not accounting for guests and operations during a project is disastrous. Cost:

  • Clearly define the investment limits for the project and break it down into the most relevant factors, i.e. design costs, construction costs and operating costs.

  • Prior to defining investment limits, do the evaluation necessary to be confident that the market will provide an economic return on the invested capital. Quality:

  • Be clear and committed to what you see the product being. If working within a brand, this standard is most likely outlined. If the standard is not well defined, then it will be incumbent upon the owner and/or operator to establish this quality standard.

  • Quality considerations include the level of construction drawings to be completed, the level of accountability, outlining current conditions; identifying the type of contractors needed and the methods of qualifying them prior to bidding; and detailing the condition and appearance of the property that must be maintained during construction.


Once the standards of the renovation project are established, the exact condition of the property must be determined. Have an accurate building engineering and status report completed, it serves two purposes. The first is to identify existing conditions, which enables the designers and constructor to address and mitigate their potential impact on the project. The second is to identify outstanding building code issues that may require action.

If a building engineering and status report is not prepared prior to starting the design phase, it is unlikely that the final design will work when unknown existing conditions arise, a very common occurrence during renovations.

The Project Team needs to be actively involved in the design process. Design consultants should present progress reports at regular intervals to its members so the project is evaluated on an ongoing basis against the time, cost and quality parameters.** **


Three of the most demanding elements of a renovation are bidding the job, scheduling and the actual work.


  • Take the time to qualify all bidders. Renovating a hotel property requires people who are very good at their trade, can handle unexpected surprises efficiently and effectively, are able to work with people and maintain a clean organized process.
  • Never risk your property to an inexperienced contractor. Doing so will result in dissatisfied paying guests and a tainted reputation. Schedule:

  • A well thought out renovation timeline that accounts for the entire scope of a project is critical because it will minimize the impact on guests and operations. It is crucial to incorporate the operations tasks within it. Operations must remove operating elements from rooms before work begins and then re-organize all rooms before they are put back into inventory.

  • Whenever possible, renovate one typical room before starting the entire renovation process. Doing this will answer 90% of potential questions and provide all contractors with a chance to fine-tune their processes. The Work:

Despite qualifying contractors and completing a one-room test, there will always be questions and issues to resolve, especially at the front-end of a project. Make sure you have a team of experienced professionals in place that can quickly answer and address issues during the initial days of a project. Doing so will help ensure that your project will not come to a screeching halt.

  • Make sure the process for ordering and receiving materials is clear and that all necessary materials are readily available prior to starting work. Failure to do so will bring work to a stop and unfinished rooms will be unrentable while everyone waits for the materials to arrive.
  • Finally, have a clear and agreed upon process for reviewing and accepting completed rooms. The more actively involved either the owner and/or manager are, the more efficiently issues can be resolved and rooms put back into service.

Avoid Unpleasant Surprises

In order to keep a renovation project on time and within budget, it is important to be cognizant and on top of the following areas:

  • Work hard on communications: The property manager must have a reliable contact with the workforce that they can go to at anytime. The manager of the project must be prepared to address issues. Proactive communication between operations and construction will bring reliability to the time it takes to renovate and re-activate guestrooms. It is also important to communicate to guests all the positive aspects that a renovation will translate into for them through appropriate signage and by keeping operation's staff in the loop so they can inform curious guests of the wonderful changes.
  • Adhere to the Schedule: Ensure that neither too few nor to many rooms are out of service at any one time. Work crews must be methodical and organized in their work. They cannot be going back to address issues, this will only hinder the entire process. Continually review the schedule, the required tasks and seek opportunities to bring reliability to the time, cost and/or quality of a project.
  • Keep the work zone and guest areas separate and distinct: Design all work processes to avoid interaction between guests and operations. Never allow guests in a work zone or contractors in guest zones.
  • Maintain clean work and staging areas: Work and staging areas, inside and outside, must be cleaned daily. If the potential exists for guests and/or operations to be around a work area, be certain to use that proper signage and barriers to protect everyone. At the same time, take advantage of the opportunity to market the improvements you are making to the property. All workers need to maintain a clean and orderly presence. They are a reflection on your property. While renovating a hotel can be challenging, proper planning and being prepared for the unexpected makes the process smoother and helps maintain positive guest relations.

Mr. Fred Roedel is a Manager of Roedel Companies, LLC along with his brother David. He shares the responsibility of developing and implementing the annual strategic plan of Roedel Companies. He also shares the responsibility of approving the final design, budget and timeline of any asset developed. Mr. Roedel is President of ROK Builders, LLC, the wholly-owned Construction Management subsidiary of Roedel Companies. In this capacity he is responsible for developing the strategic and annual plans of ROK Builders. Mr. Roedel, III can be contacted at 603-654-2040 ext. 105 or FredRoedel@roedelcompanies.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
General Search:

NOVEMBER: Hotel Architecture and Design: Unique, Timeless and Memorable Design

Samuel J. Cicero Sr.

No matter how glamorous, there comes a time when every hotel requires renovation. Years of wear and tear, new fashion trends, and shifts in technology can prematurely age a property, leading to customer complaints and the need to lower room rates to remain competitive. Also, in this age of social media and online reviews, an aging property means lost revenue as travelers increasingly turn to the Internet for advice and not the hotel’s website. READ MORE

Patricia  Lopez

Guestrooms are getting smaller. With trendy micro and capsule hotels on the rise, brands everywhere are working with designers to shave off square footage and conceptualize new and improved layouts that use space more efficiently. But designing a versatile room is only functional to a point. If you want to create a space that responds to your guests’ needs without compromising the elements that turn a simple hotel stay into a luxury, then you have to strike a balance between tradition and innovation. And it all comes back to the art of crafting an experience. READ MORE

Pat McBride

The designs of the most renowned hotels and resorts give careful consideration to every aspect of a guest’s experience. This is no small task – the design team leads the way to ensuring a property has everything it needs to offer a memorable, comfortable and relaxing stay for customers, which ultimately determines the success of a property. Complicating matters is the fact that designers very rarely need to consider just one type of customer – there are honeymooners, young families, empty nesters, groups of friends and wedding parties to consider in the design process. The task of designing for still another subset of customers – business travelers – presents an interesting but surmountable design challenge. This is a group growing more and more accustomed to mixing business with leisure. Designing a property that appeals to business travelers, a critical source of revenue for many properties today, requires its own set of considerations that must be weaved seamlessly throughout the design of the property, from meeting and conference spaces to restaurants and guestrooms and beyond. READ MORE

Patrick Burke

Encompassing over 3.5 million square feet with a price tag of $4.4 billion, Resorts World Sentosa is one of the world's largest multi-recreational luxury parks. A city-within-a-city, the resort features six hotels, offering a total of 1,840 rooms; a large casino; a convention center, including a 7,000-square-meter ballroom, conference and meeting facilities; a multitude of theaters and entertainment facilities; a maritime museum, a large marine animal park and water park; a world-class spa and extensive retail stores and restaurants. Anchored by Universal Studios Singapore, the project required a design approach that would celebrate the unique site in a very special way. READ MORE

Coming Up In The December Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Hotel Law: Legal Issues Looming Large in 2015
In an industry where people are on-property 24/7/365, the possibilities are endless for legal issues to arise stemming from hotel guest concerns. And given the sheer enormity of the international hotel industry, issues pertaining to business, franchise, investment and real estate law are equally immense. Finally, given the huge numbers of diverse people who are employed in the hospitality industry, whether in hotel operations or food and beverage, legal issues pertaining to labor, union, immigration and employment law are also significant and substantial. The expertise of all kinds of specialists and practitioners is required to administer the legal issues within the hotel industry, and though the subject areas are vast and varied, there are numerous issues which will be in the forefront in 2015 and beyond. One issue that is gaining traction is how hotels are dealing with the use of marijuana by employees, given its ever-changing legal status. The use of marijuana is now legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia for certain medical conditions. Two other states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational marijuana use for individuals who are 21 years old or older, and Alaska and Oregon currently have similar legislation pending. Most state laws legalizing marijuana do not address the employment issues implicated by these statutes. Therefore, it is incumbent on all hotel operators to be aware of the laws in their states and to adjust their employment policies accordingly regarding marijuana use by their employees. Other issues that are currently looming large pertain to guest identity theft by hotel employees and the legal liabilities which ensue; issues of property surveillance versus a guest’s right to privacy; and immigration reform could also be a major compliance issue. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine some of the more critical issues involving hotel law and how some managers are addressing them in their operations.