ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Though nearly a century old, the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club continues to impress guests with its ornate lobby, soaring ballroom, five classic restaurants and spacious, well-appointed guest rooms, all enhanced by attentive service. Yet, much of what makes the hotel grand happens out of a guest’s sight.
One of the amenities that contribute to the hospitality and reputation of the property is the quality of its linens. Tablecloths and napkins must be spotless, the towels fluffy. The ultimate reason for the stay—a good night’s sleep—should be enhanced by bedding that is soft, comfortable, and appealing. The Vinoy employs UniMac on-premise washer-extractors and tumble dryers to efficiently and cost-effectively ensure all hotel linens exceed guest expectations.
A PLACE IN HISTORY
Positioned on the St. Petersburg waterfront, the Vinoy Renaissance has a storied past, having gone through more than one renaissance of its own. Opening at the peak of the Florida boom in the Roaring ’20s, the Vinoy is an intricately decorated 375-room hotel.
During its early years, the Vinoy was a stopover for celebrities, the wealthy and U.S. presidents, but its popularity began to stagger following World War II. Leading into the 1960s, changing tastes and a lack of maintenance continued the Vinoy’s steady decline; however, the residents of St. Petersburg did not give up on the hotel, and a 1984 referendum saved it from demolition.
A $93 million renovation project restored the Vinoy to its former glory, and by 1992 it once again was welcoming guests and taking its place as the epicenter of St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront. Its current owner, the Renaissance Hotels and Resorts by Marriott, is committed to ensuring the Vinoy is one of its premier properties by offering top-notch amenities and hospitality.
Since the Vinoy’s renovation, the hotel industry has focused on making sleep the most memorable part of a guest’s stay. The purchases of high-end mattresses and pillows have put an increased importance on the quality of linens provided to guests and the upkeep that’s associated.
Throughout two shifts, the Vinoy laundry room staff ensures that linens maintain quality standards. On the first shift, three team members load the washer-extractors and tumble dryers, while two or more iron and fold the linens. A three-person team then feeds the units during the night shift.
But a diligent staff is only part of a laundry operation’s success. Updated equipment is also a key factor.
In 2011, management became aware that the equipment, which dated back to the 1990s, could not keep up with processing demand, according to Joe Lopresti, the Vinoy’s director of engineering.
“Our two 750-pound and one 300-pound capacity washer-extractors reached the end of their useful life,” Lopresti says. “The machines had become expensive to run and maintain, and were excessively increasing our utility costs.”
The old equipment also impacted the laundry staff’s efficiency, Lopresti said. The crew had to wait for the washers to finish a cycle and then had to distribute those loads into their four 150-pound tumble dryers. The limited dryer capacity made it necessary for the large washers to be run under capacity.
When the Vinoy staff began to think about upgrading their laundry’s capabilities, they turned to equipment consultant Jason Downey of Southeastern Laundry Equipment to help identify the best approach. Following an extensive evaluation of the Vinoy laundry facility, Downey and Southeastern developed a plan recommending the right size low-maintenance equipment to best fit the department’s needs.
“Every laundry is different; in Vinoy’s case, the staff does more pounds of laundry than most hotels their size, and handle many high-end types of linen,” Downey notes.
To reliably serve the Vinoy’s needs, he recommended installing washer-extractors with a smaller capacity than the old machines while improving throughput by increasing the overall number of washers to six. The resort accepted the recommendation and Southeastern installed five 150-pound high-capacity UW washer-extractors and one 60-pound mid-performance UW washer-extractor, as well as four 170-pound ultrafast UT tumble dryers.
With this equipment mix, staff no longer had to worry about a single machine breaking down and impacting the laundry room productivity for the entire day.
“If service is needed on our laundry units, they are easier to repair due to the way UniMac equipment is packaged,” Lopresti adds. “Plus, quality replacement parts are readily available for order.”
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!