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The Floor Plan

 

Floor care in the hospitality setting.

 

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Specialised Cleaning
 
 
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The Floor Plan
 

How do bar and restaurant floors manage to sparkle after the heavy footfall, grease, food and drink spills? Let’s find out the secret behind their everlasting gloss!

The UAE has no dearth of posh restaurants – gleaming from ceiling to floor with well maintained, polished surfaces and a pleasant fragrance. Rarely would visitors pay much attention to the marble or polished woodwork. But, one spill, one sticky surface and visitors are quick to form an impression. As a result, hospitality chains and set ups take extreme care in ensuring that their floors are kept well. Roma Arora speaks with some experts who spill their floor care secrets - stressing on the innovative tools, equipment, cleaning products and, the stringent housekeeping staff schedule.

Selecting the right floor
The first impression is the last. This holds true especially for the hospitality sector. Flooring is one of the most important aspects, and it should be functional as well aesthetically beautiful. The selection of the right flooring is very vital for restaurants and bars, as it determines the overall ambience of the place. Much care must be taken while considering this aspect of the interiors - the flooring must be durable, withstand constant foot traffic, easy to clean and must be slip-resistant to avoid injuries to staff or clientele. For example, tiles are one of the most widely used restaurant flooring materials, because they’re durable andwithstand heavy footfall. On the other hand, although marble looks elegant and is widely used in upscale restaurants, it calls for major maintenance. It can be easily damaged, stained, and scratched. Another important factor to consider is the climate. The Gulf region is known for its contrasting dryness and excess humidity in summers. Something like hardwood flooring has high chances of cracking up in dry conditions, and when it comes to humidity, the dampness can cause the wood to swell, so a dehumidifier is highly recommended. Having said that, let’s decode how some of the most popular flooring options can be maintained. 
 
Mosaic matters
One of the most decorative flooring options is mosaic tiles. They look like a piece of art but require great attention. With spilled food, dust, and dirt easily getting accumulated in the crevices between these small tiles, several solutions are used at a time to maintain them.
 
P&C Bar by Sergi Arola at Shangri-La Hotel Abu Dhabi is known for its contemporary setting and white and grey blended small mosaic tiles. Shahadat Husain Khan, Public Area Manager, explains, “Floor care is one of the most challenging tasks for us. P&C bar has an open space as well, which is sea facing, and receives abundance of sun and humidity. Sand storms and rain further makes the maintenance work of the mosaic tiles tougher with dirt getting gathered in between the tiles. Overpouring of drinks and breakage of glasses in a bar is very common, so regular vacuuming with a brush or dusting attachment is a must to remove any waste particles from the tiles. Another thing to keep in mind that is we have to lift the furniture when moving it on the mosaic tile floor. That way, the pieces won’t scratch the tiles”
 
The hotel industry takes sustainability very seriously. Shahadat adds, “We have a corporate partnership with a leading cleaning chemicals and equipment supplier, and we use their eco-friendly products. We also use a daily floor maintainer for weekly cleaning. Apart from this, we use microfibre dust mops that are eco-friendly because they reduce water usage and the use of cleaning products. 
 
The staff is trained to recycle the material as much as possible. Plus, the hotel is certified for ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. We use wet vacuums, besides the Hyla vacuum, which is a water-based dust container vacuum and purely environment friendly.”
 
Limestone challenges
Limestone is considered to be one of the most hygienic materials because of its unique anti-bacterial properties. There are few things to keep in mind when it comes to the cleaning of the limestone tiles - like avoid cleaning them with bleach or acidic cleaners, or any concentrated cleaning product – as all of this can erode the natural appearance of the stone. 
 

Zaitoun Restaurant at Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort is adorned with beautiful polished limestone flooring. Emilyn Villahermosa, Executive Housekeeper, at the hotel talks about how they maintain the flooring. “Limestone is an authentic natural stone product, which is hardwearing and has long-lasting qualities. It gives a very warm feel to our restaurant. Limestone is a very porous material and can easily absorb stains. Before the outlet was opened for operation, we applied a sealer on the floor, which is a water-based penetrating sealer that protects the floor from getting stains and makes it easier to clean. Dust and food spills can be simply swept up. Red wine, lemon juice and soft drinks are known enemies of limestone flooring.” Floor care is not complete without the help of equipment. Villahermosa further adds, “We use a floor maintainer once a week. First, we clean the floor with a dry mop then spray the solution directly to the floor, after which we buff it using a red polishing pad, then a white polishing pad to achieve a high finish gloss. We use a high-speed floor polisher, which produces high standards of finish. Deep cleaning and daily buffing are initiated at night. Dry mopping is done before the outlet opens for dinner.”
 
Marble maintenance
Classy and luxurious, that’s what marble flooring is. But, the problem is that being a natural stone, any liquid or food item spilled on the floor could cause it to etch, leaving a dull mark on it. Just like limestone, it’s advisable to use a sealer on it.

Al Badiya restaurant at Tilal Liwa Hotel has a two-toned marble floor in white and brown; Vallikannan Subbaiah, Housekeeping Supervisor, at the hotel shares his experience in maintaining this gorgeous floor. He says, “Marble is porous, so the dust and grime gets accumulated very easily. Another thing is that when juice, soda, ketchup, or any oily item falls on the floor, we quickly have to take action, otherwise the spilling of food would result in permanent stains. I suggest that one should quickly blot the spills with a paper towel instead of wiping it because it will spread the spill. Lastly, we cannot use acidic cleaners or vinegar solution for the cleaning as it makes the marble more vulnerable to staining.”

Subbaiah believes that a proper cleaning regime has to be in place in order to maintain the gleam and shine of the floors. “We use specific products for scrubbing, mopping, crystallization and the overall maintenance of the marble floors. There’s no way we can do without the hi-tech machines these days; we use powerful wet and dry vacuum cleaners; also, special equipment is used for multi-scrubbing. There’s a proper schedule that the cleaning staff follows: apart from dusting, and mopping, the stripping of the floor takes place once in two weeks, dry crystallization to maintain the gloss happens on a daily basis, and the extensive crystallization is done once in a year. This way we can keep our marble floors sparkling forever.”

Clearly, while choosing the right floor material is important – the real challenge lies in its maintenance. And, it’s heartening to see how far the cleaning industry has come from the broom and mop to a serious business with innovative products like polishers, scrubbers, vacuums, and green chemicals.