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  • The Difficult Contract Supply Criteria (Part 2)

    Daniel Fountain
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    When designing an hotel it is important to recognise the criteria that apply to different parts of the building, and also to recognise that in different locations different national rules may apply. Starting point must always be the client. What do they have in mind as a Guest profile. Business, family, tourist? If it is to be operated by a chain the designer may find the chain insisting on a designer they know so get a contract early so you are properly compensated if this happens. It is frustrating watching your design being carried out without your involvement.

    If you are working on a building to be operated by a chain what is the brand criteria your client must abide by? (see more in our Guide to Hotel Design). Make sure your client understands the brand guidelines, particularly if there is a requirement to use an approved supplier list. Note though that many suppliers pay handsomely to get on approved supplier lists (one chain charges over £3000 for an initial listing) and will charge extra in order to recoup that fee. Approved suppliers lists may guarantee nothing except meeting a minimum quality.
    HotelDesigns supplier listing in the Directory is free to consult, provides global coverage and writes about products for designers. These suppliers will provide not only competitive quotations but also are a source of advice and information on exporting, local regulations etc.. Never underestimate your suppliers knowledge base.

    International variations mean for example that in some countries it is necessary that the hotel be kitted out with a sprinkler system. In others, like the UK, then that may be unnecessary but it may impose different regulations in terms of fire prevention through flame proofing. This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to these areas, local authorities differ and each will need to be consulted as to the standards applying in their area. However note there are considerable differences across countries as to their requirements. Different testing methods also apply and some countries, like the USA, are intensely protectionist and design regulations to specifically exclude imports without breaching any free trade agreements.

    Many countries within the Commonwealth have standards that may relate to UK standards, but also there may be levels of interpretation that require considerable diplomatic skills to negotiate. A US approach to communicating with a Client may need finessing in the UK if the Client is not to be alienated – and a UK client may be too polite to bluntly say no, but may delay until you go away.

    There are also simple traps for the unwary. For example rub testing of fabrics for contract use is well recognised but littered with anomalies that will catch the unwary. A cotton sateen may last 80,000 rubs on a Martindale tests as it is so smooth, but common sense will tell you it is not suitable for use on a bar stool – yet I have seen it used there (it splits)! Similarly a tapestry weave will only do 6,000 rubs yet they have lasted in great houses for hundreds of years because the rough nature of a tapestry weave means threads are raised and will easily break on a Martindale test, but are so highly woven and so thick that they almost won’t ever wear out in normal contract use. Ask your suppliers advice.

    So to Rule 2: If in doubt, ask, ask and ask again.

    Daniel Fountain / 20.02.2014

    Editor, Hotel Designs

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