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The Fess Parker Hotel and Resort in Santa Barbara took on a special “one and done” meaning for Beneficial Exterminating (Benex). Opened in 1986, the landmark site on Cabrillo Boulevard stretches nearly a mile along the Pacific coast. Altogether, its five buildings boast 360 guest rooms, meeting rooms, a glass-domed lobby, rotunda, an atrium and three restaurants, all situated on a 24-acre site visible from Highway 1 on the north.
Unfortunately, drywood termites had taken up residence in the buildings with damage plainly visible in some sections of the roofline 32 feet above ground.
Benex, based in Hawthorne, California, has a 27-year history of taking on all kinds of fumigation jobs. For the Fess Parker Hotel careful planning and logistical coordination were critical because the 4.6 million-cubic-feet space needed to be done within the four-day timeframe specified.
“Hotel management wanted the entire fumigation completed all at once to minimize guest inconvenience. The mid-December timing also minimized operational disruption, as guest visits slow briefly before picking up again for the holidays,” says Ryan Prechtl, vice president of Benex.
Benex served as subcontractor for Ecolab, which handled direct communications with the resort management and provided some technical support during planning.
To accommodate a four-day timeframe, Benex shut down its fumigation schedule, pulling in more than 50 employees from its six-county Southern California service area. Prepping began on Dec. 11 and the tarps came down on Dec. 15.
Tarping took 1.5 days, with special care to avoid damage to the original tiles on the roof, the glass dome that covers the lobby and the atrium area. Forty-foot lift rigs were brought in to allow crews to expertly tarp the hotel and resort.
“We wanted to show off the scope and the complexity of this highly visible site and the quality of our work,” says Vim Dutt, president of Benex. “We’re proud of our company’s reputation. And we want to present our fumigation work in a 21st century light.”
Dutt adds that while consumer advertising in major markets is costly, there are creative ways to paint a positive picture of fumigation with the public.
“We were able to get a local television station to do a very positive news story of the fumigation,” he says. “We also took some aerial video with a drone. We’ve put that video on YouTube.”
The Benex Team
Dutt praised the hotel management and staff for their help in getting the job done on time. The hotel shut down operations and required all guests to leave by 10 a.m. on Dec. 11, the day preparation began. In advance of this, Benex had thoroughly trained housekeepers on how to prepare the rooms. A refrigerated semitrailer was brought in, and foods from the kitchens were stored in it during the fumigation. Some hotel staff took time off during the four-day fumigation while others worked those days at other Hilton locations. Resort security guards were on site 24/7.
Benex set up its command center in the courtyard near the hotel main entrance.
“The hotel has nine buildings, so it was very important to have everyone on the same page,” Ryan says. “We set up fumigation release points on the east side of all the buildings and released Vikane® gas fumigant sequentially starting from the south. We are the only fumigation company that uses multiple units to analytically and accurately measure a kill for large, complex buildings. For this fumigation, we monitored a total of 16 areas using four Spectros SF 400 units. The buildings held really well.”
During planning, the cooler December weather and oceanfront location posed a possible concern for storms or wind, but the only weather factor was morning fog that burned off by midmorning. Wind turned out to be a nonfactor.
“This is the second-largest fumigation we have done,” Ryan says. “With careful planning and cooperation by all parties involved, you can get the job done right and on time.”