Arizona Biltmore Resort Keeps Linens Flowing

PHOENIX? In a busy month, the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa may have to process more than a half-million pounds of laundry in its on-premise facility. The secret to processing such massive amounts is setting up a rotation to keep the flow moving from guestrooms to the laundry and back, while making sure housekeeping has an adequate supply on hand, according to Edgar Aldana, manager of laundry operations. ?Our biggest challenge is to get the laundry back in circulation to make sure room attendants have what they need plus extra in storage, and to have enough table linens for the food and beverage operations,? Aldana said. The 730-room resort has three restaurants, and a total of 70,000 square feet of meeting space. ?Some days we do up to 20,000 pounds of laundry if there is a convention going on and the pool is busy,? Aldana said. The hotel has eight heated swimming pools plus a spa and fitness center. This past April was a record-breaking month for the Arizona Biltmore?s laundry room, according to Aldana. ?We handled 623,195 pounds of laundry,? he said. Located in a one-story building which also houses the resort?s housekeeping, security and human resources offices, the laundry facility processes all sheets and pillow cases, towels, washcloths, terry items such as bathrobes and table linens. There are a total of five washing machines including two 450-pound machines; one 200-pound unit; one 135-pound; and one 100-pound. There are two dryers including a 450-pound machine and a 200-pound unit, plus an ironer and three folders. The equipment was replaced five years ago when the Arizona Biltmore was renovated, Aldana noted. ?If it?s properly maintained, the machines can last as long as 20 years,? he said. The laundry staff consists of 40 employees, mostly full-timers, plus a manager and supervisor. Maintaining a full staff can be a problem with the tight labor market, Aldana said. ?Right now, we are short six or seven people. When that happens, we use temporary help which is easy since the job does not require a lot of training,? he said. The Arizona Biltmore offers competitive pay and benefits to attract workers, he added. The laundry facility generally operates from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., with some tasks being done for longer periods of time than others. ?The washers operate 10 to 12 hours a day,? Aldana said. ?On the finishing side, the ironer is operated eight hours a day while towel folding is done 10 to 12 hours daily.? Because the Arizona Biltmore maintains such a large supply of towels, bedding and table linens, replacement is not done as often as would be necessary with a faster rotation. ?The laundry we do today is for use tomorrow so it?s a one-and-a-half-day turnaround,? Aldana said. ?Doing laundry here instead of sending it out allows us to control what we have in circulation,? he added. ?When you send it out, you might be short one day and have it come back late the next day which can be a problem,? Aldana said.