Hotel bunker batteries – and the fear of being shut down



Hotelier Ariane Oswald is preparing for a possible power outage.

Ariane Oswald (42 years old) has just bought a lot of batteries. not for yourself. But for the four hotels in Sorel that it manages in Zurich and the surrounding area. This includes Hotel Rutli in the middle of Niederdorf.

Guests enter the room with a key card. “In the event of a power cut, the door locks run out of batteries,” explains the hotel manager. In case of emergency, there will also be a traditional key for each door. “But we haven’t used them for years,” says Oswald. If a guest accidentally receives a universal key, they suddenly have the entire hotel’s passport.

Oswald doesn’t want to cause panic over the blackout. “But the sooner we have an emergency plan, the easier it will be,” she explains. Oswald isn’t alone: ​​Other hoteliers have been told they buy candles, flashlights and power banks in addition to batteries. Eventually, the guest should be able to charge their mobile phone even in the event of an impending power outage.

Some hotels wanted to install a backup generator in the basement without the fuss – but these are sold out across Europe.

30% less sales

On Wednesday, the Federal Council clarified its electricity and gas savings plans – and calls the economy to account. Hotels are under particular scrutiny, as the federal government plans to close swimming pools, saunas and wellness areas if voluntary calls for electricity savings aren’t enough.

Ariane Oswald will also be affected by the health ban. The Sorel-Hotel Rigiblik has suites with private hammams and saunas. “If we can’t rent them now, 30-40% of sales will be lost.” In mountain hotels, the fall in sales will be even greater.

The hotel spa staff were suddenly out of work. The trade association Hotelleriesuisse has called for support measures in the event of restrictions, restrictions or quotas – including reduced working hours during the pandemic.

Fondue and Cold Plates

Scary scenario: network shutdown. These are only available as a last resort at level 4 of the Federal Council’s electricity savings plan. “But if that doesn’t happen, we expect power fluctuations due to uncertain supply conditions,” says Hotelier Oswald. In such a situation, there are frequent power outages for some time.

This can have disastrous consequences: for example, if a fire breaks out during a power failure. In this case, the fire alarm system does not send an automatic emergency call to the fire brigade. “We need to patrol the hotel more,” Oswald says.

If the power goes out, even the stove will not work. Ideas are bubbling in the industry for serving food to guests on a cold plate or by candlelight. It does not need electricity, only fuel paste is needed. Oswald is still skeptical. “If the electricity goes out, we can no longer have a cold chain, and we are obliged to do so under the food law.” Uncooled cheese goes in the trash instead of the caquelon.

Room occupancy by floor

If there really were to be recurring and long-lasting network shutdowns, Oswald’s case is clear: “Then we cannot provide our service. Guests do not enter the hotel room with torches and candles.

Instead, the prospect of the hotel closing will again be up for debate. The industry has promised to actively contribute to saving energy, to avoid shutdown. There are also economic reasons for this. “For us, the energy cost is 3% of the total cost,” Oswald calculates. In view of rising prices, saving electricity is first and foremost about saving money. “We rely on energy-efficient LED lights and have motion sensors in the hallways so the lights aren’t left on all the time.”

This will barely be enough to avoid an impending power outage. This is why industry associations are getting aggressive. For example, Gastrosuis gives its members advice on how to save energy in a 12-point plan. “Occupy the rooms according to the buildings and floors”, it says, among other things. “In uninhabited areas, heating can be reduced at all levels.” Hotelleriesuisse also offers a webinar on energy savings.

“For the winter season to go as planned, everyone now has to pull themselves together,” says the association somewhat miserably. Ariane Oswald also anticipates a solid winter despite the growing energy deficit. “During Corona, we suffered massive losses. We cannot start again without support.

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