Hotel Developers Now Considering Salt Water Pools
Love them or loathe them, pools are a brand required amenity for many popular hotel flags. For hotel owner, it’s important to understand your options when it comes to pool technology as it ultimately will affect the overall maintenance, costs, and guest experience at your property. In this newsletter, I’ll discuss a growing trend in pool design of saline (salt water) pool systems.
There are two major misconceptions with salt water pools that are important to address:
Myth #1: Salt Water Pools Are Chlorine-Free
This is by far the most common misconception. A salt water pool and a chlorinated pool both use chlorine to kill bacteria. The main difference is simply in the way the sterilizing agent is added to your pool. With chlorinated pools, chlorine is added directly to the pool water. Salt water pools use a chlorine generator and create the chlorine on site.
Myth #2: Salt water Pools Are Extremely Salty
Despite their misleading name, salt water pools are not like salt water found in the ocean. Salt water pools typically only have 1/10 or less the salinity of sea water.
- Salt water pool technology has been around for over 50 years when it was first used in Australia. (Today over 80% of all pools in Australia are salt water)
- Salt water pools work by converting salt to chlorine using a chlorine generator the key component of every salt water pool system.
- The bacteria-killing chlorine created through this process is the same one found in a traditionally chlorinated pool.
- The generator produces a constant stream of chlorine, which means the chlorine level is typically much lower in a salt water pool than a traditionally chlorinated one.
- Some wellness brands, such as Element by Westin (Marriott) and EVEN Hotels (IHG) require-saline based pools systems.
- Less Maintenance – Chlorinated pools require constant surveillance and testing not required by salt water pools. Since the generator produces chlorine at a steady stream, only chlorine and pH levels must still be monitored with no need to add regular doses to the pool.
- Softer Feel – Those that swim in salt water hotel pools describe the water to be ‘silky.’ – This is similar to the effect of a water softener in your home where the addition of salt makes the water feel ‘softer.’ – Many people prefer this feel over chlorinated water.
- Easier on the Clothes, Eyes, and Skin – Because of the way chlorine is generated in a salt water pool, the chlorine levels are generally much lower. The lower chlorine levels mean salt water pools protect eyes, skin, and bathing suit. Hotel guests that experience irritations from chlorine will likely have fewer problems. Saline systems are often recognized to be a “greener” choice for hotel developers looking for the sustainable route.
- Safer and Lower Liability – At higher levels, traditional liquid or tablet chlorine can be dangerous. Recently, a hotel in Maryland had to be evacuated when guests were complaining of eye irritation in the pool area. It was later found that a 5-gallon container of chlorine tablets had gotten wet in the chemical storage area, resulting in spreading odors and negative guest experience. A salt water pool does not require large doses of chlorine, greatly reducing potential environmental, health or legal concerns for owners. Also, this solution fits to hotels with rooftop pools as liquid chlorine need not be delivered through guest occupied areas of a hotel.
- Initial Cost – The biggest drawback for most hotel owners is the initial investment required for salt water pool equipment, which can cost thousands of dollars. It should to be noted that some or all this cost can be recouped due to the savings on maintenance and purchasing/storing of chemicals. Typically, developers need 3-4 years to get a return on the installation cost.
- Complexity –Salt water systems are a bit more complex and likely require professional for assistance when problems arise. it is more likely that you will need to reach out to a professional for assistance.
- Corrosivity – Although you are not dealing with concentrated chlorine, salt by itself can be extremely corrosive and damaging. Developers sometimes report damage to ladders, pool decking, fixtures, and more due to the effects of salt water. Usually these problems arise from improper maintenance or outdated equipment, but the risks still exist.
Hoteliers considering a salt water pool need to evaluate the initial upfront investment, maintenance, and ultimate end guest experience they want to give their customers. If you have a salt water pool at your hotel – we’d love to get your feedback on both the benefits and drawbacks you’ve experienced!