When Edwin Trieglaff, an elderly Florida resident, sought shelter from Hurricane Wilma in October 2005, he turned to his local AmericInn. The Bonita Springs hotel turned out to be the perfect refuge for Trieglaff and several critical care patients from Naples North Collier Hospital, who sat safely inside the hotel's concrete masonry walls while 135-mph winds raged outside.

Most likely, AmericInn's founders never pictured this scenario when they began building with masonry in the early 1980s. In fact, they weren't even focused on what has become their most unique selling point today: its AmericInn SoundGuard construction system.

“We feel AmericInn has the highest, most consistent quality of any hotel in our category,” said Vice President of Construction Mark Clarey. “Every location is built with concrete and masonry.” The concept has quickly attracted franchise owners, many of whom are general contractors who understand the benefits of masonry construction.

At the core of the current AmericInn SoundGuard system are 8-in. concrete block walls filled with expansive foam and covered with 5/8-in. thick drywall. Although it's common for hotels to use masonry for every other wall, with wood or metal stud walls in between, this chain uses masonry dividing walls between every room. Precast plank floors help reduce the vibration and noise, above and below.

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While masonry provides a solid, quiet foundation, AmericInn's interior design also minimizes noise. Insulated windows, thresholds, and sweeps on guest room doors block noise from outside and hallways. The pool and recreation area are separated from guest rooms by the lobby.

Even though the hotel's construction materials and methods have remained essentially the same since the chain began, there have been some improvements over time. Sand insulation has been replaced with foam, resulting in easier installation and quicker drying times. Doors have been upgraded to include sound seals and spring-loaded hinges. “We keep our eyes open for new technology and higher performing products,” explained Clarey. “If something looks worth investigating or testing we'll try it out, but don't see ourselves ever getting away from masonry.”

By using standard concrete block and other materials, AmericInn eliminates the expense and time of shipping specialty materials and can remain cost-competitive. Rather than using a national contractor, local masonry crews are hired wherever possible.

“We always give local contractors and suppliers a chance to bid on new projects,” said Clarey. “It helps us find the most skilled and professional workers in each region and benefits the local communities. We have had a positive response from the masons who have worked with us, because these people realize they are handling a quality product.”

Quiet advantage

Over the years, AmericInn's construction system has become more focused on making guests' overall experience in the hotels a quieter one. In 2004, Arnold Angeloni joined the company as CEO. He realized the potential value of this construction concept because he had the unpleasant experience of being suddenly awakened by an alarm clock in a neighboring hotel room (at a competitor's place, of course).

After surveying guests, Angeloni discovered previous visitors ranked quiet rooms as fifth most important of 26 factors that would determine which hotel they would choose. Unfortunately, the survey also revealed that the hotel's slogan, “Quieter nights, rest assured,” was not giving people the whole picture of what AmericInn was offering.

With this information, an acoustical sound engineer was hired to conduct a Sound Transmission Class test – the study and measure of the amount of sound transmission within its buildings. With masonry plank floors instead of wood truss floors, and masonry walls vs. drywall, AmericInn's guest rooms were scientifically proven to be around 25% quieter than other types of construction. “The precise percentage isn't the most important point to us because we know it's enough that people notice the difference,” continued Angeloni.

In 2005, the company launched a new tagline, “Welcome to the end of the day.” This new campaign included all of their guest amenities, in addition to quiet room environments. To better describe the hotel's commitment to peace and quiet from the ground up, they trademarked the phrase “AmericInn SoundGuard construction.”

Since the re-branding efforts specifically focused on AmericInn SoundGuard construction, guests have identified “quiet” as an even more important factor that they are willing to pay for, and rated the chain higher than its competitors on providing a peaceful experience. The hotel also has attracted more franchise owners who see the value of the consistent construction method. AmericInn now has more than 230 locations open or under development across the country, with expectations of reaching 300 in the next few years.

As the chain continues to expand, its quality construction may become even more of an asset. Masonry meets the strength requirements of new building codes in areas susceptible to strong storms, like Florida, and its fire resistance could help prevent situations like the recent fire at the Monte Carlo hotel and casino in Las Vegas during the World of Masonry/World of Concrete.

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For information about AmericInn Sound-Guard construction, visitwww.americinn.com.