The following information is intended to provide a cursory overview of hotel engineering with the hope that it will give you an enlightened sense of perspective.
The role and mandate of any property engineering department is the protection of the building owner’s assets; the structure from the façade or building envelope, to the integrity of the floors, walls, ceilings and all of the furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) contained therein. This includes the electrical transformers and the distribution throughout, the domestic water distribution and sewage, the heating-ventilation-air conditioning system (HVAC), the fire alarm system and fire safety components, the vertical transportation system (elevators), the property surroundings like parking, landscaping and pest control, utility management such as electrical, gas, steam and water, kitchen and laundry equipment, lighting and sound systems and on and on.
Hotels are much more extensive and demanding than any standard properties. The engineering department has the responsibility for everything in the building as well. Depending on the organisational structure of the hotel, some elements are assigned to other departments. The Security or Loss Prevention department may take on the task of fire systems but ultimately this is the responsibility of the engineering department as the building operators to monitor for regulatory compliance.
Hotels have often been given the analogy of a cruise ship or a hospital in that the operation is 24 x 7. Twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. When guests are sound asleep, the systems of the building continue to operate. The heating and ventilation units keep running, the domestic hot water is being heated, the laundry may be operating, the night cleaners making their rounds, desk clerks and night auditors all doing what they have to do. Behind the scenes, there is a flurry of activities, and everything has to work so that everyone can perform their functions and the guests are safe and comfortable.
Without minimising the contribution of other departments, of which there may be as many as ten or more, the bottom line is if there is no engineering department there is no hotel. Take away those services like hot water or elevators, heating or cooling, electricity, kitchen equipment, laundry equipment, hotel articles, etc. you simply would have no customers. When everything is working the next most significant department of course is housekeeping whose efforts keep the property clean and attractive, ensuring guests comfort in their rooms. Removing a restaurant from the system will not close a hotel, or closing the bar or lounge will not cause a hotel to cease operations. Again, all departments should contribute to a seamless operation where guest comfort, safety and satisfaction are paramount.
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