Guest Facilities

Don’t skimp on quality – it will cost you

Haven’t outdoor entertainment and leisure areas evolved from when a pool and a brick barbie were considered luxury?

Baby boomers that grew up with backyard picnic tables and half a 40 gallon drum for a barbecue, are now driving sales for quality outdoor furniture and superior outdoor living but, wisely, with more and more sun protection.

Outdoor areas are nowadays shaded with sails, gazebos, pergolas, umbrellas and deck covers where underneath we experience carefully planned Asian influences, feng shui considerations, rest areas, meditation corners, water features, spas and pools, synthetic grass and themed dining areas that make outdoor areas interesting places to be. Al fresco dining adds another dimension again and is also becoming more popular in all our major cities and regions.

Barbeque areas are turning into outdoor kitchens.

As we are learning, guests expect more from accommodation complexes than their often luxurious homes with increasingly more comfortable outdoor areas. Accommodation complexes should have welcoming, well planned and comfortable outdoor living space that will keep the party lounging comfortably all day.

And the outdoor furniture pieces that grace these areas are serious purchases for the accommodation manager.

Commercial outdoor furniture comes in every imaginable style – ultra modern, minimalist, classic, colonial ad infinitum but essentially purchases must offer value for dollar and be reliable, attractive, durable and comfortable, with minimum safety risks. Prioritising features can help managers choose from the variety of materials and types available.

What is your most important consideration – keeping to budget, aesthetics, comfort, durability, sun resistance, wind resistance, fade resistance, easy to move, low maintenance, easy to clean, easy to store, safe, matching colours or material..? Don’t ever sacrifice quality for dollars or you can end up with very tatty looking furniture in a very short period of time. Twelve months can see a terrible decline in the condition of some outdoor furniture.

What are some of the considerations when buying outdoor furniture that has to endure and survive our harsh Australian climate? After assessing your budget, decide what particular furniture pieces are needed, measuring up available space, sizes and numbers needed, checking on climatic conditions – windy, hot, cold, salt air and moist areas, materials already used, compatibility of material, style and colour, available time and inclination for maintenance. And lastly, do you want to be able to move, stack, or power-wash furniture?

A brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of different materials may help your selection. Materials that are readily available in Australia include the exotic concrete, faux stone with antique finishes, marble, stainless steel, resin, fluted resin with high UV protection, mesh and wrought iron as well as the more traditional and most commonly used aluminium, PVC, timber, plastic rattan and wicker. Never compromise on quality in any material and carefully examine construction techniques.

Some outdoor furniture can be high maintenance. You may be required to re-stain, re-paint, re-upholster, steam-clean or move it undercover during bad weather. Before you buy your outdoor furniture make sure you familiarise yourself with the care instructions and decide if you are prepared to carry out the details.

There is also the comfort, safety and ergonomics of the seating, lying and reclining furniture to consider. Good design that doesn’t compromise on correct seating position is difficult to find with indoor furniture but much rarer with outdoor furniture. The try and test before you buy is best for assessing comfort.

Considering textiles and fabrics – go for comfort, ease of clean, strength and climate resistance. Advanced fabrics used for combination furniture today can be durable, breathable and water and sun resistant. Cushions and slings for resort and poolside furniture can be made from canvas, leather, all manner of plastics, and new vinyl coated polyester yarns that are unsurpassed in tensile and tear strengths. Colourfastness, washability and strength are critical considerations. Again don’t skimp on quality for price as this is, in the long run, false economising.

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