Hotel Parking Lots: Why First Impressions Matter and How to Spot Trouble Areas Before Your Guests Do

By Rollin Bell Founder / CEO, PCM Construction | October 28, 2008

One of the first things a guest sees when driving onto your property is your hotel's parking lot. A fresh, black coat of asphalt makes a positive first impression. A parking lot exhibiting signs of neglect or disrepair will have a profound negative impact on guests - even before they walk through the front door. Beyond appearances, a cracked parking lot can be a liability for hotel executives and managers if one of your guests becomes injured.

So how can you, as a hotel executive, know when it is time to repair your parking lot? Besides planning for recurring inspections and maintenance, there are several trouble spots to look for.

In many cases, a fresh seal coat may be the answer to your parking lot ailments. Seal coating is a thin asphaltic treatment used to protect pavement surfaces from UV radiation and oxidation. Seal coat may contain asphaltic or coal tar emulsion, fillers, sand, polymer latex, fibres and pigments. Seal coats are mostly for protecting a surface from aging. They are a thin layer and work well as void fillers. They are commonly used on parking lots to extend the life of asphalt and provide a fresh new look.

Raveling - This is one of the more common failures of asphalt pavement. Raveling can be described as the on-going separation of aggregate particles from the pavement's surface. A raveling pavement will deteriorate progressively faster with time. A raveling pavement leaves a pock-marked surface texture, followed by the loss of larger aggregate sizes, which leads to a rough surface texture with large, exposed aggregate, eventually resulting in the loss of the entire lift of asphalt pavement. With proper seal coating, raveling can be significantly reduced.

Alligator Cracks - These are easy to spot because of the resemblance they bear to the leathery, cracked skin of an alligator. Alligator cracks are attributable to various factors such as pavement movement, shrinkage of asphalt mix due to oxidation, weak or weathered joints, extreme temperature changes and/or surface layer movement. Depending on their severity, alligator cracks can be fixed with an application of seal coat.

Polished or Smoothed Aggregate - This is when the protruding aggregate that typically provides traction for cars and pedestrians becomes smoothed over time. This typically occurs in areas of high traffic or in geographic locations where studded tire use is common in the winter. Polished or smoothed aggregate generally occurs over a long period of time and results in a slick, unsafe surface.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.