As they say, “to buy is easy, to maintain is difficult”. The same goes for hotel floors. With rising competition, it is no hidden fact that floor polishing plays an essential role in uplifting a hotel’s overall image. A well polished and maintained floor sends a positive message to all who visit, whilst making a vital contribution to the overall decor and interior design of a property. On the contrary, a shabby floor will make a lasting bad impression on a guest’s mind. So, apart from regular cleaning, hotel housekeepers place special emphasis on floor polishing to preserve their million dollar assets.
Amongst the first things a customer notices is the hotel lobby. Most of the hotels have their lobby marbled, so marble polishing has been really popular amongst hoteliers. However, hotel floors have evolved and so have their polishing techniques. Also, with the advent of automation and various measuring tools, floor polishing has been quicker and more efficient over the last few years. Most brands have started introducing robotic units to clean and maintain the floors for its lasting polished look.
The flexibility of choosing machines has increased with reference to the type, area and kind of fl ooring in the hotel especially in lobby and public washroom areas. On the fl ip side, hotels also prefer to have low maintenance fl oors preferably less natural stones.
The frequency of polishing
Usually hotels always expect a gloss level of 90 percent and above. Modern day suppliers and vendors even promise to restore the marble if damaged.
Although maintenance is done on a daily basis, fl oor polishing is generally conducted every fortnight. “We have fl oors made up of marbles, granite and tiles in our hotel. Although cleaning and maintenance is done everyday, the polishing happens every fortnight. So technically the polishing takes place daily. It's just that the area keeps getting rotated,” says Sandip Karmalkar, Cluster Executive Housekeeper, Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel.
Current trends in floor polishing
When it comes to fl oor polishing, the current trends hold the same juncture as the traditional methods. Most of the hotels follow the similar maintenance techniques such as maintenance cleaning, intermediate cleaning and deep cleaning.
However, modern machinery does allow room for better efficiency and quality as the old techniques of measuring and dilution of chemicals are being replaced by automated judgements. “These days, a variety of tools and equipment are being used for polishing. These include scrubbing pads, single disc and double disc machines and chemicals like Terre nova, Noble + etc.
The new twister pads by Diversey are designed keeping in mind the environment and the shelf life. They are cost efficient, too. Similarly, there are various new companies that come up with methods and ways to make the whole process easy, cost effective and at the same time environment friendly,” says Sandip.
Things are not quite the same for Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai. “We adopt the traditional method of polishing (levelling, grinding, sealing, polishing) the floors though we have got the twister pads in the market. Our regular and periodic maintenance consists of daily buffing and quarterly stripping and crystallisation as and when required,” says Anilkumar Katru, Director of Housekeeping, Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai.
In addition to this, Millennium Airport Hotel uses diamond pads starting from number 50 up to 3000 for their restoration process based on the actual condition of the floor. They also use water based or solvent based sealers during the restoration process to avoid any stains penetrating into the stone. Regular buffing is then done to maintain the gloss levels of the floor. Most of the chemicals involved in the entire process are neither considered harmful nor cause long-term adverse effects to the environment.
The challenges in floor polishing
High traffic areas such as hotel lobbies, where a higher number of footfall is recorded, are the most difficult to maintain. In these areas, polishing is scheduled more frequently in order to maintain an appealing look. Being an airport hotel, the challenges faced by Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai are similar. However, they overcome the challenge by swapping the areas.
The future of floor polishing
Sandip believes that new completely automated polishing machines from Taski are the way forward as they require minimal supervision. But that is not it. The future of marble polishing is vast and housekeepers must look forward to the use of AI(Artificial Intelligence)nto get the whole process done in no time. “We are not far from the time when these technologies would completely replace human intervention,” he comments.
“I like to call it stone maintenance, rather than polishing,” says Thomas Schindler, Managing Director, Blitz Blank Building Cleaning Services LLC, who holds more than 30 years of experience in this business. In the past 5 years, Thomas has witnessed budgets for many hotels shrink and as a result, seen them compromise on the maintenance of floors.
With its vast industry experience, Blitz Blank Building Cleaning Services LLC has maintained different kinds of floors ranging from marble, granite, artificial stones, terracotta, tiles and more. For each type of floor, a different procedure and a different product for polishing is used. Thomas believes that choosing the right product for floor polishing is the key.
Needless to say, the right product will keep the floors gleaming for a longer stretch of time and will be economical in the long run. “We generally use Italian products for floor polishing. It takes about a week to polish using these products but they last longer,” he says.
In Dubai, the maintenance standards are very high as compared to any other market I have seen. Thomas considers Dubai a benchmark as compared to the U.S, Canada and Asia, among many other countries and highlights some top reasons to keep hotel properties, especially floors properly maintained. “First of all, when you protect your floor (stone), you are protecting your investment. If you bought a material, you ought to make sure it looks nice. Second is the hygiene part. The fl oor should be levelled and clean at all times. This creates a lasting impression in the mind of the customer who when enters a hotel, sees the entire lobby clean, nice and gleaming. It enhances your customer experience and space,” he says.
Thomas goes on to share how each area in a hotel might need different types of fl oor polishing. Take the wet areas for instance (fl oors around swimming pools, washrooms, etc), they need to be anti slip so they can’t have the same type of glossy polishing as hotel lobbies.
Floor polishing in hotels has evolved as much as fl oors have. Earlier, only natural stones would be used in hotels. Nowadays, things have changed. There are so many variations of artifi cial stones in eclectic designs available in the market. They are easy to maintain and add to the ambience of the hotel just like a natural stone does. Naturally, when fl oors change, the practices adopted to polish and maintain them, change too.