Everything that’s old is new again. This is especially true at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. The century-old iconic hotel overlooking this seaside resort town has recently undergone a massive two-year, $30 million renovation.

This major retrofit included the basement where the laundry is located.

Although the contractor had no qualms about removing two aging washers and two old dryers, designing an on-premise laundry and installing equipment necessary for a resort with high quality linens required the expertise of Peter Blunden, president of East Coast Laundry Systems – and his son Greg Blunden, sales and marketing, who joined the company about two years ago after graduating from university with a business degree.

“This is Greg’s first project from beginning to end,” said Blunden. “It was great to work with my son. I’ve been in this business for 35 to 36 years and I have fond memories of my first project standing beside my father-in-law. Greg is the third generation at East Coast.”

East Coast provided the design, supplied and installed the equipment working closely with Algonquin’s management team, New Castle Hotels and Resorts of Shelton, CT.

What East Coast found in the old basement surprised them. The laundry was housed in six rooms; one of these rooms was a laundry manager’s office and others were used for processing or storage.  Equipment consisted of two top-load washers, a 60-pound capacity machine and a 35-pounder, plus two 50-pound-capactiy gas dryers – far too inadequate for a 233-room resort now with two pools, large public meeting facilities, dining establishments and more.

“Obviously an addition was added to the building in the area where the laundry was located,” observed Blunden. “When we looked into the structure we found an outside window between one of the interior walls!”

The Algonquin had, for years, sent its laundry to be processed in Saint John, one-hour away, and more recently to Fredericton, a one-and-a-half hour drive. “Some of the laundry was done on site; towels were folded by hand,” he observed. “A revamping of its laundry can result in huge operational savings by processing their laundry on site.”

He recommended removal of the six rooms and combining the space, close to 2,000 square feet, into one laundry processing area. “We did a floor plan and evaluated the resort’s requirements based on the types of linens and textiles that needed to be processed and made a list of required equipment.  We worked with New Castle, the architects and engineers – we worked together in overcoming the obstacles of an old building.” Representatives from the resort’s owners, Southwest Properties, were also involved with the retrofit of the new laundry.

Blunden recommended energy efficient equipment with labour cost-savings and safety features.

The new laundry now has two new 60-pound capacity washer-extractors and two 160-pound machines, giving the resort 440 pounds of washing capacity, all Milnors with the manufacturer’s patented RinSave® feature.

“RinSave® effectively introduces a drain speed that sluices out the water eliminating one full rinse cycle,” explained Blunden, “saving a great deal of water, as rinses are done at high water levels.” Blunden estimates the four washer-extractors installed at the Algonquin Resort can realize savings of almost $10,000 annually, thanks to Milnor’s new RinSave® technology.

The four washer-extractors are hard mounted on a two to three foot solid concrete base.

These machines were matched with three Milnor gas dryers, two 175-pound capacity and one 95-pounder. All three are microprocessor controlled and have built in fire suppression – an automatic sprinkler comes on should there be a fire caused by a lint build up.

“This feature, offered by most manufacturers, is very popular with hotels,” said Blunden. “A mini fire causing an alarm to go off can be very expensive, so if you have a fire extinguisher in the dryer, no alarm goes off in the building.”

These dryers have a reversing cylinder and roller drive allowing the basket to roll back and forth. This feature is especially important for the two 175-pound capacity dryers, as “175 pounds of dry weight equals about 350
pounds wet weight, which is a lot of weight on the bearings,” explained Blunden. “Roller drive extends the life of the bearings.” He added the basket of these large dryers measure 51 inches in diameter and 43 inches deep.

Coupled with the dryers is an Energenics lint filter system operating at up to  10,000 CFM with an excess pressure alarm and static air pressure gauge.  “Since lint is always a fire hazard we supplied it with fire control built in and an alarm,” explained Blunden.  An Energenics air flow optimizer was also installed, “a neat option that measures static pressure and adjusts the speed of the fan to boost or reduce it to keep the static air flow at an optimum level.” It’s connected to an air compressor that automatically cleans the lint screen inside the filter into a lint collection system that bags the lint for disposal “, Blunden added.

Blunden said they designed the dryers into the wall with an enclosure around them so they appear flush in the wall. This allows the dryers to draw fresh outside air and expel exhaust through the lint filters without affecting the air in the laundry room.

Complimenting the three dryers is a gas powered Chicago Flatwork Ironer with a cylinder measuring 20 inches in diameter and 136 inches long instead of the more common 110 to 120 inches in length. “This machine is made for king size sheets.”

Lastly, an Air Chicago small piece folder was installed. “I like to call this machine a multi-piece folder because it can fold towels of various sizes, table linens, pillow cases – there are many things that can be folded in this machine.

“This will be a big labour saver,” Blunden concluded. “Previously the Algonquin had two people folding towels all day. Now one person can fold all of the towels in half a day.”

-This article was written in Fall 2014 Fabricare Canada Magazine by Wilma Blokhuis