Hotels ditch the housekeeping carts

The hotel industry is adapting to shifting travel habits. NBC’s Chris Clackum reports.

All the bulky, rolling housekeeping carts are missing from the hallways at the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte.

The hotel managers aren’t worrying about it and, they say, neither should you.  

“Actually, we’ve been cartless since opening day in 2007,” said Kris Horasek, general manager of the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

The Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel has eliminated the traditional maid cart in favor of smaller, more portable caddies.

At the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark, each floor has a linen chute and a fully stocked linen closet. After guests depart, housekeeping aides strip the beds and remove towels and trash. Then the hotel’s “room stylists” arrive. Instead of the traditional cart filled with toiletries, towels and linens, they enter a room with a vacuum cleaner and a compact, wheeled caddy filled with products and cleaning supplies to clean and re-stock the room.

“We started with a knapsack,” said Horasek, “but that didn’t work. Then our senior rooms manager showed us a rolling bag with drawers that her husband uses for his collection of remote control cars. Now we get the caddies from a hotel supplier.”

For guests, the benefits include hallways free of bulky carts laden with dirty linens and the need to maneuver around them. And because housekeepers carry the caddies into the rooms, guests don’t see carts parked outside propped open doors of other rooms being cleaned.

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“Housekeepers close the door and put key cards in the lock to signal that they’re in the rooms,” said Horasek. “The housekeepers are safer. Guests’ belongings are safer. And with no carts in the hallways, it looks like the rooms are done by magic.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte has been cartless since opening day in 2009. General manager David Rothwell said compact housekeeping caddies benefit not just guests, but the staff and the building as well. “Our housekeeping professionals no longer have to push 100-pound carts around all day, and the beautiful wood millwork and doorways on our guest floors are no longer subject to the dings, scrapes and scratches that carts used to leave behind.”

The Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott in New Jersey and the Renaissance Boston Patriot Place Hotel Spa in Foxborough, Mass., are some of the other hotels that have gone cartless. Debbie Howarth, an associate professor in the International Hotel School at Johnson Wales University, expects the concept will spread.

“The cost of doing business decreases if you do not have people walking by the housekeeping carts stealing items off of them,” she said.

What item are you most likely to raid off a hotel housekeeping cart? Tell us on Facebook.

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