Room With a View
by Larry Mundy
September 2006

Your Hotel Laundry Room


 
Whenever I get to visit the “back of the house” in a large hotel, I always make it a point to spend at least four seconds in the laundry area.  That’s because at the five-second mark, the heat and humidity give me flashbacks of a certain unpleasant trip to the jungle.  I understand that OSHA demands that no hotel laundry room have an ambient temperature in excess of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the boiling point of water, so most hotel laundry rooms are kept at a nice, balmy 190.  But since the humidity is carefully regulated at about 103%, it still feels pretty warm in there.  Intelligent hotel design would just back the laundry room up to the guest sauna, and the sauna could just be a little room with a metal grate that lets the laundry room heat pass through, except that we’d be starching all our guests.

Commercial laundry equipment fascinates me, if only because each unit is larger than my first apartment, and is assigned its own ZIP code.  Units are rated by how many pounds of laundry they can handle, and some of the really big machines can handle as much as 2,463 pounds, almost exactly the weight of a Honda Civic if you don’t order the sunroof.  The machines have to be securely bolted to the floor or they will “walk” right through the wall and wreak havoc throughout the entire city, sort of like Godzilla in the old horror movies.  They sit on giant concrete pads and set off earthquake warning systems at the university three miles away.  Faced with an approaching tornado, I would feel safe and secure hiding in a large commercial dryer, but I would certainly unplug it first.

I’m equally amazed by giant ironing presses, some of which will ingest an entire king-bed sheet and spit it out flat as a pancake in seconds.  I’m reminded of the cartoons where the evil cat is flattened by a steamroller and becomes a 2-D area rug.  If the kitchen ever runs short of aluminum foil, you could probably just feed the ironer a bunch of empty soft-drink cans.

There is also a supply of laundry chemicals that will eat any stain known to man, and which are not available to the general public.  I believe you could smear a white bedsheet with grape jelly, red wine and axle grease, soak the whole thing in spar varnish, and bury it underground for weeks, and half a cup of some magic commercial laundry concoction would have it beautifully white again.  This stuff is not sold to civilians, because otherwise no one would need to own more than one sheet, and the entire linen-manufacturing industry would fall on hard times.

Of course, in a hotel you need two or three “turns” of bedding per room, so that each room can be made up and ready for the next guest pretty much instantly.  And, no one wants to look at an exposed hotel mattress for long, at least not after lunch.  So all the ready laundry that will not fit on maid’s carts has to be stored somewhere in the laundry room, on big shelves and overhead racks and rolling carts that are in the way of the laundry workers, no matter where you put them.  The one inevitable fact is that no matter how big a laundry room might be, it’s not big enough   You always have hot, sweaty people running into one another, sort of like playing hockey in rubber-soled shoes on the surface of Mercury.

So more and more hotels are “outsourcing” laundry, which is a polite term for having someone else do it.  The day’s dirty laundry is picked up in a big truck and carted off to Dick Cheney’s famous “undisclosed location” to be washed, dried and folded, then delivered to your door.  Of course, this means having an extra turn of linen or two on hand, just in case the truck mistakenly returns with a load of checkered tablecloths instead.

Personally, I think hotels without their own laundries are missing all the fun.  When the big machines first start to spin in Tupelo, the lights dim momentarily in Oshkosh.   I’m told that if every hotel washer in the country were started at once, Lake Michigan would be drained dry inside of four minutes.  To me, it’s a miniature version of visiting the Hoover Dam turbines, right there in the bowels of the hotel. 



Larry Mundy works for a hotel company in Dallas.  His views are his own, and may differ considerably from those of a sane person."
 
Contact:

Larry Mundy
LJM2804@yahoo.com

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Also See: Your Hotel Parking Lot / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Room Service / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Redecorate Your Elevator Cabs, Every Fall / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
The Basic Hotel Shower-Tub Combination, a Relic? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Different Views of Customer Service - The Airline “Passenger Experience” vs the Hotel Guest Experience/ Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
The Hotel Guest With Half a Brain / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Latest Thing - Fractional Ownership Of Things or FOOT Financing for Hotels / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Floor Surfaces - Hard or Soft? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Bathroom Origami - That Tiny Detail of Carefully Triangulated Toilet Paper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
A Chain, a System, a Franchise, a Collection, a Group, a Brand... / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Forensic Hotel Housekeeper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Exercise Room in Your Hotel - Sweating the Details / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Remembering the old-time Hotel Engineering Department / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Curse of the Hotel Lobby-Dwellers / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
What Do You Do With an Old Hotel? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Hotel Smokers: A Dying Breed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May  2006
The New Food & Beverage – Food “Just Like Home”  / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Guest Privacy – It’s Not Just a Door Tag Anymore / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
The Future of Hotel Reservations / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Soon Every Town in America Will Have an Unused Convention Center / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Hotel Pool Safety 101 / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Where Not To Build a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
“Exterior Corridors” – Disappearing, Because They Never Existed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy
My Top Ten Worst Hotel Inventions / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
Bed Tech / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
A Sense of Arrival / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006



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