In early 2012, the hotel renovation industry began its recovery, led by a boom in travel and rising occupancy rates at hotels across the nation. In the years since, tens of thousands of hotel rooms, lobbies and restaurants have been renovated with gleaming new bathroom fixtures, fresh carpeting and plush pillow-top mattresses.
Unlike other contractors who rushed into the hotel renovation business over the past decade, Cicero’s Development Corp. has been upgrading hospitality properties since 1970, helping make hotels, large and small, more profitable for their owners and more comfortable for guests. As part of corporate mission, the company has shared its success with the communities it serves both through traditional charitable giving and a unique method that only is available to those in the industry.
Here is how it works: When hotels redecorate or upgrade they replace older furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) with new items. So, you may ask, what does a hotel undergoing a renovation do with 200 bedding sets and televisions? Or 450 mattresses? Or 250 sofas and chairs? Or two truckloads of mini-fridges? The answer is recycling, reuse and philanthropy so that old FF&E is kept out of landfills. As a valued partner, Cicero’s has helped its hotel clients make that happen and, along the way, has done good while doing well.
“Hotels today cannot just load up dumpsters with used furnishings to make way for renovation crews to work,” explained Sam Cicero, Jr., president of Cicero’s Development Corp. “Early on we came up with a way that was beneficial both to the hotel and to the community to take care of the FF&E problem. We had no idea how successful it would become.”
Cicero’s solution was to arrange large donations of its clients’ used FF&E to local charities. Hotels save on waste hauling costs and even get a tax receipt from charities for their contributions. There’s always a need somewhere. A local homeless shelter may require 50 bedding sets. Or a local food pantry can use ten bins of slightly dinged kitchen culinary equipment. Major charities such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill, along with specialty building materials brokers, and community organizations at the local level can all facilitate the collection, reuse, resale, and recycling of donated hotel items. Arranging for those donations takes effort. Cicero’s has never shied away from lending time, resources and staff to this important cause.
Mission of Hope
For example, when Cicero’s renovated the Value Place Hotel in Daphne, Alabama, it partnered in a major donation of the hotel’s used bedding and electronics to Mission of Hope, a local program designed to help men and women on the road to recovery from substance abuse. Rather than heading for a dumpster, these valuable items are now assisting in turning around once troubled lives for the better. Bedrooms are now fully furnished with “good-as-new” beds, cabinets, televisions, nightstands and desks. Mission of Hope counselors now spend time helping meet the complex needs of patients’ addictions rather than struggle with finding a room for them to stay.
Cicero’s also worked with a Cincinnati-based organization called the Reset Ministries. The mission of Reset is to work with men that have troubled pasts and have a willing desire to work hard to radically change their lives. Cicero’s donated all of the furniture and furnishings from a major renovation of a Hyatt it was doing in Lexington, Kentucky to Reset Ministries. Reset then put the men who were currently staying in its housing to work. They came to the worksite, loaded up multiple trucks and brought back the furnishings to Reset’s 30,000-square-foot warehouse. The men refurbished and reconditioned the furniture, and sold it at a minimum charge to other less fortunate families at two Re-Use Centers.
“When I heard about Reset, I was immediately interested and thought we would be able to work together,” said Sam J. Cicero, Jr. “It fit our $ensible Green program as it helped the environment in a multitude of ways. With the Reset Program, the furnishings from hundreds of hotel rooms are refurbished and re-used, and it enables men, who are having difficult times, go to work and feel better about themselves. It was a win-win-win for all.”
Cicero’s also gave Reset the names and contact information of other small hotel owners in the nearby area, so that they might be able to contact the hotel owners to help sell their used furniture as well as in their own Resale Store.
Patients suffering from end-stage organ disease and facing the need for life saving transplant surgery must deal with many challenges. During this difficult time, and in addition to their tremendous medical expenses, patients and their families are burdened with the high cost of lodging, the loneliness of being away from their loved ones and the fear of losing their jobs, homes and way of life. Nora’s Home in Houston offers transplant patients and their families an affordable place to stay where they can find support and share experiences with others, in the comfort of a home-like environment.
When Cicero’s renovated the Wyndham Houston – Medical Center Hotel and Suites, it joined forces with Nora’s Home. The property-wide renovation of the Wyndham included removing furniture from the hotel’s 287 guestrooms. Cicero’s arranged for some of that furniture to go to Nora’s Home freestanding facility near the Texas Medical Center. Furniture was installed inside its 32 private bedrooms and baths, great room, meditation room, community room, and education center.
Obviously, when a hotel is undergoing a major renovation, rooms must be cleared out of furniture, often with no place to go but into a landfill. But rest easy. As Cicero’s Development has shown, there are ways for a hotel to quickly remove old FF&E and help the community.