Developing a quality resort hotel in a remote / secluded place

(GA 2012)

(Some useful guidelines on the process and logistics)

Financial viability: it is of the outmost importance for a developer to do an in-depth market survey and assess the business potential of the destination. Isolated resorts are expensive to develop/build and expensive to operate therefore the volume of business and the room rates must be as high as possible in order to offset the investment costs, the operating costs, and generate an acceptable ROI.

Availability of flights and easy access to the location-site is of the outmost importance for the success of the resort. There may be need to develop a business relation with the local airline/s in order to assure convenient transport/timing to customers and staff.

It is also very important to recognize that the resort has to be self-sufficient and must have its own infrastructure, cannot rely on others and must plan accordingly for all aspects of the construction and of the operation.

The guidelines, the process and logistics highlighted in this document are based on developing a quality “all villas type” resort in a remote island (Caribbean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean-Maldives, South-east Asia, etc.)

Facilities-Product: do extensive survey of the market and of the potential competitors (supply & demand) with objective to establish the desired market position of the new product (market share) that in principle should aim at being among the top 3 within the competitive set once the new resort is stabilized. Number of villas and supporting facilities are normally dictated by the size of the island and local code. The developer must understand that small resorts are much less profitable/ROI than larger resorts and this is of critical importance. Privacy and exclusivity are basic requirements for a quality resort. Also must take into consideration the guest activities and entertainment provided-available during bad weather specially when it goes for 3-4 consecutive days.

Size and layout of the standard villas usually divided into 3 sections; the sleeping area normally air-conditioned plus a covered porch/balcony in the front and an open area for private plunge pool (ideally not less than 3×6 m.) rest area, outdoor shower, garden, etc. Normally the total area of the villa not less than 120 sq.m., larger if possible. It is recommended that around 15% of the villas inventory are large villas-suites for families and entertainment/ VIP purpose. Ideally all villas bathrooms should have “his and her” facilities-areas and day light in the bathroom is always welcome. Mix of Beds are to be mostly full “king size” with very few twin villas. All furniture to be attractive and most important comfortable as in many cases, customers are long stay.

There should be a good selection of restaurants, ideally one restaurant concept for every 30 villas plus bars, lounges, service to the swimming pool, to the beach and private dining areas commanding high average check. One or two multi-purpose function room/s is/are very much preferred as demand for the facility is increasing and also used during bad weather.

It is a must for the resort to have all supporting guests facilities; one or two swimming pool/s plus separate pool for children, a full wellness center consisting of spa, gym-exercise room, yoga room, meditation-silence area, beauty-hair salon, etc. A dedicated children area with entertainment & activities is always in demand and expected. All water sports & diving-fishing center is a basic requirement (avoid noisy motor boats around the island). Note that for a resort to be exclusive, customers expects lot of activities and normally are prepared to pay for it; sunset cruise, individual excursion, fishing trips, diving lessons & diving activities, tennis, golf, bicycling, cooking lessons, etc. The resort is to have a recreation & activities department. In-villa private entertainment and full & fast connectivity throughout the resort is a basic requirement.

It is said that in a resort, the garden and the outdoors is the equivalent of the hotel lobby therefore the whole landscape has to be attractive, pleasant and interesting.

Development: Once the initial market survey is done and the financial projections are complete and accepted, it is of critical importance to appoint qualified consultants and contractors with knowledge and previous experience with similar projects. Do not use consultants and contractors who are new at this type of development and construction.

On planning and designing the resort must include protections against floodings-tsunami; avoid basements in flat areas and all major machines & equipment have to be raised from the floor at least by 80-100 cm. (unless they are located in a place not affected by the water/flooring.

On finalising the project schedule and on setting the targeted opening dates, must take into consideration that quality resorts commanding high rates cannot have soft openings. The whole resort has to be completed before accepting paying customers and dry runs highly recommended before the opening.

Employees: assess the source of employees and plan accordingly; interview, selection, contract, visa, transports, accommodation, cultural adjustments, etc.

Procurements: define where goods; construction material, decorations, FF&E’s, OS&E’s, supplies, etc. will be purchased and order well in advance. Special attention on developing lists of items to be purchased.

Shipment of goods: clarify how goods will be shipped (or air freight) to the site and block space on ships/containers/freights. Extremely important that all goods are coded and specify in which container/s are packed and shipped to prevent confusion at arrival and eventual losses.

Custom clearance & duties: become familiar with the whole process of shipping, clearing & receiving and appoint a local agent to-do the custom clearance of all goods and to take care/pay the related import duties on behalf of the developer.

Plan for transfer/transport between the main port/airport to the island-site and assess availability of boats/ferry, timing, and of proper inventory on arrival on site and adequate storage. Important to build two jetties, one for customers and one for services & delivery of goods.

Address the transportation of goods, staff, customers within the island once the resort is in operation and order proper vehicles (golf carts, bicycles, etc.) special attention to road surfaces, lighting, signage and parking/waiting areas.

Interior design suggestions: In a beach-island location, outdoor furniture and equipments will get consumed very fast. Avoid outdoor wood furniture and steel furniture. The “Dedon” type furniture highly recommended as they resist the sun, the humidity-salt water and easy to clean.

Avoid natural straw roofs for villas and public areas as they are fire hazard and have to be replaced frequently. Consider “plastified roof tiles” with a color that matches the local environment.

Avoid as much as possible wall paper and wall-to-wall carpets in the villas and in the public area as the humidity and sands will affect on those.

For outdoor wooden terraces and balconies, avoid wood that creates “sprinters” as customers and staff tend to go bare feet around the resort.

Fabric: wrinkle-free, washable and avoid silk.

Floor finishing: use matte and non-slippery. Timber plank and stone to be smooth as feet-friendly.

Rust-free: stainless if used to be marine grade 316.

Timber: synthetic wood is more appropriate. Avoid teak, particle board and plywood (marine-grade).

Door cylinders to be non-steel & brass. Marine grade.

Avoid air-conditioned flow directly over the bed.

Depending on the remoteness, airport/flights, boats-ferry, island size, distance to next island(s) and islands with population and supplies (materials, food and people) of the development, do consider the followings;

  • Usage of designers and specialists with past experience (working on similar type, size, kind of project and country) to cover Civil, Architectural, M&E and Fire Life & Safety services. This will as well include special areas (i.e. kitchen, laundry, power and water plants, fuel storage(s) etc.)
  • Usage of qualified, reputable and versatile suppliers and contractors
  • Incorporate right materials, design and usage, to ensure safety and sturdy construction, that is made to withstand the forces of nature (i.e. tsunami, tropical storms etc.)
  • Apply environment and marine protection guidelines by certified specialists
  • Local & overseas procurement and supply with delivery time and customs clearance, local custom clearance agents with transportation and shipment to the remote destination
  • Delivery and storage of materials and goods to be safely handled
  • Local contractors living quarters while under construction, during and after handover placed in a secluded area away from customers.
  • Quarantine areas for materials supply and separating potential ‘foreign’ pests
  • Waste handling and discharge before, during and after construction completion
  • Fuel handling and storage before, during and after construction completion
  • Oil, grease and harmful substances storage and handling with discharge
  • Covering any local cultural aspects and religion needs (i.e. mosques, temples, chapel, etc. for staff and customers).
  • Strict control of budget plan with schedule, incorporating the procurement with logistics, transportation, storage and delivery with installation. Monthly reconciliations and taking all aspects of planning and delays and any possible emergency

Due to the remote island and isolation scenario, the project timeframe will need to be carefully considered, adding sufficient time and resources to cover possible aspects of logistics and transportation delays, material and labor shortage due to foreseen and unforeseen weather conditions during the project phase. The due diligence inspection with report, action plan and schedule will determine a feasible project frame.

Taking good care, catering for the employees and keep them motivated is perhaps one of the most important and challenging task of operating the resort. Most of the employees will be based on the island on permanent basis for 2-3 years and they will need all the basics; comfortable and clean accommodation, all meals, laundry, entertainment, activities, medical, counseling, etc. Facilities such as cinema, coffee shop, shops, IT Internet room, hang-out area(s), TV areas, sport areas (i.e. football, tennis, volley ball, etc.) and training facilities for further studies will need to be catered for before the opening for business. Highly recommended not to accommodate more than 2 staffs per room with its own toilet & shower plus have separate quarters for top incentives. Note that the staff accommodation and related services & facilities have to be fully completed before the arrival of the staff on site, approx. 6 months before the opening.

The construction of temporary housing with canteen and basic facilities for contractors workers, workshop, stores and project offices to be positioned in a cluster away from future hotel areas and visible to guests. As there is an issue of access, control, safety, hygiene with good housekeeping, pests and handling of materials and waste, it must be close to arrival and discharge area and service jetty, but well hidden and in a safe compound.

With the nature of a hotel opening team being on board 6 months +/- and therefore the construction still ongoing, the safety of the staff and the protection of goods and materials is top priority.

Also note that basic utilities (power plant) have to be operational in order to start construction works.

At the very early stage, define the type of license that are needed to construct and operate the resort and to comply with all local requirements. Special attention to the fire & life safety, handling of waste, related spillages and handling of potential disasters. Delegate responsibility on securing licenses.

Waste Management system to be identified for the full/complete harvesting, use, re-use and recycling of on-site waste and water resources during the life of the development. “Green” technology to be applied for treatment system and recycling the gray water as usage of irrigation water for ground and landscaping watering, and the usage as ‘drip-plant’ watering at nursery and the herb & vegetable garden (if available).

Pest control and handling of pests on the island will need to take place from the start of the project. During construction and usually with lower hygiene standards, this is the time when local pests will increase in amount specially ‘foreign’ pests through materials and supplies delivery from abroad (coming in closed containers). It should be standard practice to do major eradication of rodents, before during and prior to handover of hotel premise, with good housekeeping and daily pest control. To control ‘foreign’ pests a quarantine station to be identified on site.

Communication will need to cover the local island operational needs, through a PABX telephone system and mobile ‘cell’ network covering the whole island, being connected to the national ‘cell network’ through dish wave and possible satellite connectivity. The hotel must have an emergency satellite handheld phone being able to connect in case of emergency. When power or network system and antenna are down.

Kitchen and Laundries need to be designed using local fuel, i.e. LPG gas tanks or diesel fuel, for the heating and steam. The systems must be designed to support a full occupied hotel during high season and with all staff on the island and to have sufficient back-up.

Food and Beverage storage to be designed to cover demand for the high season in regards to all needed supplies. As the delivery can be affected by seasonal weather conditions, which may delay the transportation due to safety reason, the cold and dry storage must be designed with sufficient capacity of required food and beverage items at all times and under safe conditions.

Health care on the island must be covered with a fully equipped doctor facility with basic features for standard health care and basic health care operation. The local law will need to be covered at all aspects and taking into consideration the transportation to nearest hospital and International health care with emergency evacuation process, transportation and doctors support.

Power generation must be designed to have at least one ‘prime’ (continuous) power generator always on stand-by and as reserve, while the other units are running or being serviced. The power generation must be designed to local power authority rules and regulations, in regards to safety, fuel handling and storage, exhaust fumes and waste. Important to have an automated synchronizing system installed. Power plant operators will need to be trained and certified, knowing the power generating with transfer based on all type of scenarios. The fuel storage needs to be in two separate fuel tanks that have a capture pit (in case of spillage) and should cover around 30-45 days capacity while running on full occupancy.

Desalination plant necessary to meet demand for all water needed within the resort. Special attention to be paid to bacteria control/UV in the system particularly for the portable water. Drinking water may need to be mineralized for guests and staff. The water storage must be in two separate storage tanks, with by-pass valve and control and should cover around 20 days capacity while running on full occupancy (including the on-site living staff and quarters).

All building materials, hardware and ID items must be ‘marine grade’ type and application and to use stainless 316 applications, brass or copper. The guest room entrance door lock system to be contact-less RFID type (system not sensitive to humidity)

EIA environment and impact study to be done, including the marine and beach costal inspection with recommendations to protect against erosion, costal shift and protection of marine life and reef during construction. A local marine specialist to be consulted to provide recommendations in regards to unusual shift of sand, and erosions and actions to take.

The Development and Contractor Agreement with the builder to include sustainable construction management practises with a selection of “green” and local materials, technology and processes for achievement of low environmental impacts and implement an effective Environmental Management System (EMS).

Energy systems to be designed for passive design strategies and with targets for the use of energy efficient appliances. The usage of sustainable electricity systems (i.e. wind and solar) for centralized and local applications, building areas, zones and clusters is highly recommended.

Usage of ‘Sustainable Technology’ will reduce the power generation load and consumption of diesel fuel, using proven technology, such as: wind turbines, solar PV with Inverter and Battery storage, solar thermal for hot water, heat recovery hot water pump (heat pump) and bio fuel and bio diesel production to supplement or replace fossil diesel fuels.

Useful guidelines & indications;

Energy :

  • self-generated power grid with medium voltage transformer,power by power generation (depending on fuel supply…… high (diesel), medium(diesel) or low (bunker fuel) RPM generators), with co- or tri-generation
  • fuel systems with storage tanks and proper receiving equipments & controls
  • building Management Systems, with peak demand control and monitoring system
  • metering and recording for water and power consumption (digital with network access)
  • low Voltage vs. Medium Voltage power distribution network

Water :

  • cold water with filtration, treatment, storage and distribution (pump and pressurizing), rain water catch, deep well, reservoir, if possible/available
  • osmosis desalination plant with ERI (energy recovery intake system), from sea water intake, deep well intake or brackish water intake

Hot water production :

  • from co- or tri-generation, gas boiler, solar ‘thermal’ or from heat recovery
  • deep well pumps, sea water intake pumps with titanium steel and sea water
  • proven applications

Sewage and Waste water :

  • waste water treatment (sewage and grease trap), with grease trap, biologic three stage with active bacteria, anaerobic and aeration and or a wet land system
  • gray water storage with irrigation network system (for watering of garden and plants)

Garbage separation and handling :

  • fertilizing and composting
  • garbage collection with separation (glass, metal, alu, plastic, paper, food waste)
  • landscape shredder
  • glass crusher
  • commercial Incinerator

Centralized system and Networks :

  • central network for water, hot water, sewage, power, communication, MATV etc.(pipe, conduit, insulation, installation, suspended/ground installation, etc.)

Kitchen and Laundry systems :

  • Appoint well-known supplier/contractor who can provide reliable brands & equipment plus full installation and most important, can provide regular services for all kitchen equipments.
  • laundry supplier; all available machines & equipment for dry cleanning and laundry for the whole resort and also can provide regular services of the whole plant

Water treatment systems :

  • drinking water (still and sparkling) with heated bottle cleaning and filling, water supply, filtration and softening, water storage to be sufficient to cover 6 days,small R.O. water plant, bottle cleaning, bottle filling. The production rooms and standards according to HACCP kitchen standards
  • swimming pool sanitizing and filtration system (salt chlorinated system, ‘saline’ pools)
  • pool underwater lights to be LED type and salt ready
  • pool covers to control water temperature during night and to protect during storms
  • pool water circulation system pumps, filtration, pipes, valves and controls/rust-free
  • pond sanitizing and filtration system to use pump, filtration and bacteria control, with overflow drainage

Fitness and Spa systems :

  • to be energy and water efficient in design and concept
  • energy and water consuming equipment to be carefully considered
  • sunken bathtub with ‘quick fill’ system
  • efficient drainage with B-trap for mud and sand not clogging in the system

HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system :

  • from co- or tri-generation
  • split type (Inverter technology, VRV system and energy STAR rated systems)
  • chiller or mini chiller (chilled water supply system)

Building standards (LEED, EarthCheck) :

  • roof ventilation and passive cooling
  • roof overhang and shading
  • glazing (laminated, tempered or low-e type)
  • roof, walls and floors insulation technology

Sustainable technology :

  • wind turbine
  • solar PV with Inverter and Battery storage
  • solar thermal for hot water
  • heat recovery hot water pump (heat pump)
  • bio fuel and bio diesel

Protections from storms; wind & rain :

  • for windows/doors of villas & public areas/restaurants
  • for employees areas
  • for boats & jetty

The Elements for Fire Life and Safety Design:

  • Marine safety; have emergency life safety rafts or jet ski, able to assist anyone in danger
  • Lightning protection; design and install; early streamer‘ lightning system surrounding all areas
  • CCTV system; design and install digital with 30 days back-up CCTV system surrounding all areas (including the jetty areas and especially fuel storage and fueling areas)
  • Fire detection (fire alarm) system; design and install fully adressable system with sleeping room buzzer mode smoke detector and PA system
  • Fire protections system; design and install all areas covering fire hydrant system, through jockey pump, electric pump and fire diesel pump pressurized loop network
  • Mobile fire protection systems; floto pump and mobile fire pumpto be made available
  • Kitchen hood fire suppression system; ‘Ansul’ design and install, automatic hood suppression system with auto-shut off gas control and connected to the fire alarm system
  • Portable fire extinguishers and fire blankets, to be made available according to local law and/of company’s policy
  • IT and PABX/Communication system fire suppression system;  ‘FM200’ design and install automatic FM200 fire suppression agent and the floor to be raised approx. 40-50 cm. with fire rated panels
  • LPG Gas and fuel safety; to be according to local law and regulations
  • Fueling and Jetty safety, to be according to local law and regulations
  • Electrical installation (over or under water); to be connected to ELCB (earth leakage control breaker) and running on low voltage 12Volt/24Volt DC power only
  • Lights; use energy saving LED lights and fluorescent ‘T5’ lights (avoid if all possible incandescent lights and CFL lights as they have mercury. Light fittings and bulbs must be ‘marine’ grade and IP 46/64 rated

Monitoring and metering of all utilities (electricity and water) and fuels (diesel, fuel and LPG gas) is required. Electricity and water needs to be metered at cluster areas; kitchen, laundry, buildings, restaurants, outlets canteen and staff quarters.

Construction at remote location requires a very different set of engineering and it needs to be customized accordingly to the location.

Note:  In addition of those guidelines & process, important to also review and be guided by the owner/developer critical path.