Hotels bet guests will favor furnishings made in USA

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Montague Furniture

By:Barbara Delollis USA Today

When you walk into a hotel in the U.S. today, you’ll see many items – chairs, draperies, lamps – that were made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia or elsewhere overseas.

But that’s gradually changing, hotel designers and furniture makers tell Hotel Check-In.

There’s a small but growing trend among hotels to buy more items from local, regional or U.S. vendors.

Hotel owners, developers and designers are increasingly deciding it’s worth it, even if they pay a little extra for a U.S. product.

Why? There’s time and risk involved with ordering items from overseas, plus showcasing locally made goods can give the hotel a patriotic or community-minded spin.

Examples:

  • The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis recently finished a $25 million revamp that used “Made in America” as its central theme. More than three-quarters of the items purchased for the renovation came from the USA, says designer Michael Suomi of New York-based Stonehill & Taylor. The guest bathroom counter tops, for instance, feature granite quarried locally and purchased from a century-old Minnesota company.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, in Greensboro, Ga., is in the midst of redecorating to give guests a lighter, more modern look with many U.S.-made products, says Megan Ybarra of the Dallas-based interior design firm Duncan Miller Ullman. The hotel found wall coverings from Kentucky, guestroom carpet from Georgia, and a Texas metalwork firm was hired to custom-make the metal branches that form the base of guestroom ottomans, she says.
  • The InterContinental Chicago’s 477-room renovation emphasizes locally-sourced materials and furniture, says Dan Egan, the hotel’s sales and marketing director. Guest rooms contain drapery from Union, Ill., headboards from Jasper, Ind., wall covering from York, Penn., and room signage in hallways from McCook, Ill.
  • Montague, a 20-year-old guestroom furniture maker, last April invested in its first-ever factory – and it’s located in North Carolina, says Misty Delbridge, who runs the company’s U.S. division. It made sense, because hotel owners are increasingly seeking products made here and the factory was in danger of closing down, she says. A Hilton hotel in Texas, for instance, is having the company prepare two model rooms for a renovation – one outfitted with furnishings made in Vietnam and the other with furnishings made in the U.S., she says. Montague still has about 70% of its products produced in China and Malaysia.

No. 1 priority: Put heads in beds

Another factor driving the growth in U.S.-sourced products is hotels’ rush to renovate in as small a window as possible so that rooms can stay filled with paying customers, says Delbridge. It’s especially true in New York City, where some hotels can be sold out or almost sold out most nights of the year.

“If the cost (to purchase U.S.-made furniture) is 10% higher and the hotel can gain revenue back in six to eight weeks, they’re all about it because then they could have a ‘Made in America’ story and gain revenue,” Delbridge says. “These companies wouldn’t do it just for the story. There’s got to be an advantage in it for them.”

Hotel renovations are faster paced than building new hotels from scratch, notes Ybarra, who worked on the Ritz-Carlton Lodge project. It typically takes about 18 months to renovate a hotel, which since the recession has been the most common activity among hoteliers, vs. about three years to build a new one, she says.

“Our clients are willing to pay an extra dollar or two to not have the hassle of waiting,” Ybarra says. There’s also the risk of complications, she says, citing long waits at U.S. Customs and a time when pirates took over containers filled with items for a Turks and Caicos hotel.

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Cantaloupes linked to deadly multistate Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak

— Two deaths and multiple cases of illness across 20 states have been linked to cantaloupes contaminated with salmonella, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
State and federal health officials are advising consumers to discard all cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana, as tests have found evidence of the same strain of salmonella bacteria associated with a multi-state outbreak that health officials say is still ongoing.

The outbreak, which began in July, has been linked to two deaths and sickened at least 50 people in Kentucky. According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, a total of 141 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 20 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The agency cautions consumers not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe, or cut through the outer surface, as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the fruit.

Consumers with questions about food safety are encouraged to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD or consult the fda.gov website.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provides these recommendations for preventing Salmonellosis

– Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.

– Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.

– Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people in a normal state of health who ingest Salmonella-tainted food may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache and muscle pains. These symptoms may last about four to seven days, and then go away without specific treatment, but left unchecked, Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond and may cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.

Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune symptoms should practice extreme caution, as salmonellosis may lead to severe illness or even death.

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration found Listeria monocytogenes on a honeydew melon and at a packing facility in Faison, North Carolina, but no illnesses have been reported.

In 2011, the number of deaths linked to a listeria outbreak in cantaloupe rose to 29, topping a 1985 mark for the most deaths among adults and children. Experts say the third-deadliest U.S. food outbreak was preventable.

Read more: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/money/consumer/cantaloupes-linked-to-deadly-multistate-salmonella-typhimurium-outbreak#ixzz247HWdmdS

Cheaper Produce at the Farmers Market? It’s True

source:By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com

Farmers markets tend to be thought of as the province of the well-to-do, peddling things like $12 heads of organic lettuce and edible chrysanthemum leaves. But with more than 7,000 farmers markets across the country, according to the USDA, surely their appeal must extend beyond cost-blind locavores. Indeed, the few studies of farmers market prices we’ve found show that consumers on a budget can actually save on locally grown fruits and vegetables this time of year.

Can you save money by shopping at the farmer's market?

Can you save money by shopping at the farmer’s market?

A 2011 survey by consulting firm SCALE Inc.found that farmers market prices were equal to or cheaper than supermarket prices about three-quarters of the time. The primary exceptions were free-range meat and eggs, which cost an average of 10% more than free-range products at grocery stores and 47% more than conventionally raised products. The items in the study included apples, bell peppers, zucchini, potatoes, butternut squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken, eggs, ground beef, and other everyday foods.

SCALE surveyed prices last summer at two dozen farmers markets in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The study compared each farmers market to two nearby grocery stores and found that shopping at the farmers market yielded an average savings of 12% when comparing like items (i.e., organic apples to organic apples). However, when the study’s author simply sought out the cheapest available item (paying no attention to whether poultry was free-range or conventionally raised, for example), slightly more than half the time he found it at the supermarket. This suggests that consumers who don’t make a point to buy organic produce and grass-fed meat may not see the same savings at the farmers market as shoppers who do.

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