Sound Advice for Hotels Seeking to Keep Out the Din

OAKLAND, CA—For many guests, they don’t realize what they had until it’s gone—and that is peace and quiet. For hotels with noisy guestrooms, there is the inherent risk of bad online reviews and fewer bookings.

Picture it: The rumbling of trains and blaring of the horns as they pass by. It’s enough to keep guests up at night. This was a major cause of concern for the Waterfront Hotel, a Joie de Vivre property here, with one side of the building facing an estuary and the other near railroad tracks that transport numerous Amtrak and large freight trains per day.

“One of our major complaints had been about noise from the trains. All of our frequent corporate clients were requesting to be on the water side of the building and not the city side where the train passes, which became made it difficult to fill the hotel,” said Mark Everton, area managing director, Commune Hotels & Resorts, brand company for Joie de Vivre. “We found Soundproof Windows, Inc. out of Reno, NV, and it has a product—storm windows on the inside rather than the outside. We have large window sills, they go inside two or three inches and sit on the sill all the way around. It’s only when you come up close you see it’s two sets of frames and two sets of windows.”

According to its website, Soundproof Windows can reduce noise levels by 75-95%. That’s a tall order and quite an impactful one for hotels with significant noise issues, which in turn affects the guests experience and its bottom line. Before making the investment in the windows, Everton did his due diligence and visited a few properties that had implemented Soundproof Windows’ product, as well as enlisting an acoustical engineer to put the windows to the test.

“It’s a fairly large financial commitment and I wanted to make sure they would work. We know the source of the noise, but we weren’t sure how it was getting into guestrooms, whether it was through the walls or external vents or windows. You couldn’t pinpoint it,” Everton said. “Soundproof Windows has two different glass thicknesses—quarter-inch thick and five-eighths-inch thick glass—and we had the opportunity to test three guestrooms stacked vertically. One room we left without the soundproofing and the other rooms had the windows of varying thickness. We hired an acoustic engineering company to monitor decibel levels in all three rooms and kept track of the passing trains over the course of a weekend. We found that the quarter-inch thick glass reduced the decibel level by 75%, and the room with the five-eighths-inch thick glass reduced noise by 90-92%. It helped me to prove the noise issue and decide which of the glass products to go with.”

For Randy Brown, president of Soundproof Windows, Inc., the benefits of noise reduction was something he learned about in his early years growing up near Love Field Airport in Dallas. Later, a do-it-yourself project born out of necessity would soon turn into a fully fledged company with an international reach.

“My father used to be a manufacturer rep for a storm windows company in the 1960s and, living near the airport, planes would fly over and everyone was used to that. My dad put in storm windows and the noise no longer bothered us,” Brown said. “I knew the problem could be solved. Years later, I moved into a noisy house in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I figured out how to do more research and build windows for myself to solve the problem because I couldn’t rely on what was out there. I learned about using the right type of glass for the windows. As my business became more successful, I did more research, developed and improved upon it. I’m about 10 decibels better than when I started, and that’s a substantial amount. Most people see my windows as 50% better than the competition.”

Soundproof Windows not only sells noise-reducing windows; it manufacture sliding-glass doors and steel doors for hotels, residences and recording studios. According to Brown, his product has longevity unlike competitors’ products that will need to be replaced after a few years due to deterioration.

“I am one of the industry leaders. I bring a lot of expertise to this as far as hotels are concerned. The product had better stop as much noise the first few years on into 10 years. Our product doesn’t deteriorate over time. We use better seals,” Brown said. “We are not replacement windows, we are adding a window to the inside usually adding another layer of glass so it’s like a double pane. If you’re already a double pane, then I’m changing it to a triple pane and that’s a substantial insulation value increase. Our windows have to seal very well to stop noise and by sealing windows it’s stops the air as well.”

For hotels researching the noise abatement options out there,  Brown recommends putting in a test window to see what can be achieved using his windows. While the financial investment is significant, hoteliers will see a cost savings buying direct from Soundproof Windows as handle the manufacturing and sales under one roof.

“I don’t have dealers, everyone buys straight from us and, that way, there’s more bang for your buck. We are not more expensive than the competition as we offer competitive pricing. In addition, there is a return on investment of four to eight years in energy savings alone,” Brown said. “We never lost anyone to a competitor when testing with a sound engineer. We are not trying to build the least expensive, we are building what can effectively stop the noise. We are an order of magnitude better than anyone.”

—Corris Little