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Reinvention at the resort

Merkrete and Reptile, Inc. modernize Anaheim Sheraton

The Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort changed ownership in December 2019. Taconic Capital recognized the value of the hotel’s position adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center and a block from Disneyland. 

However, changes had to be made. They coordinated with the hotel’s operating firm, Aimbridge Hospitality, to embark on a $33 million renovation to update their landmark neighboring “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and the largest convention center on the West Coast. 

For decades, the Sheraton sported outdated gold and brown hues, cumbrous furniture, questionable space planning and outdated decorthat resisted the California-living movement that transformed much of Downtown Anaheim. Even the ‘50s-themed in-house restaurant tended to make the hotel feel like another attraction on the resort instead of a place to retreat from the sensory overloads the purlieu can inflict. 

“The vision of Marriott is to bring the Sheraton brand to its true potential across the entire spectrum,” noted Sheraton General Manager Ian Gee. “The owner wanted to meet those goals but also to recognize the value of our great location and the high-profile nature of our building. So, there’s a lot of very positive attributes that the property has, but – regrettably – it had not been fulfilled to its potential previously.” The renovations were meant to remedy this.

In late 2020, early 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic stifled travel into California. Like most other hotel properties, the Sheraton was forced to temporarily close. Instead of waiting idly for restrictions to lift, the Sheraton used the opportunity to do much of the heavier work for the renovation. 

Ready for refreshment

In addition to earthier tones and textures, and lighter mid-century modern furniture, the reinvention of the Sheraton leaned heavily on extensive retiling in the common areas and guestrooms. Renovation designer MDR Architects introduced a blend of wood-look tile, natural stone and gauged porcelain to the hotel for timeless, tasteful surfaces that set the stage for Sheraton guests’ business and pleasure activities. 

Teamwork ensured Reptile crews could stick to the project’s careful timeline.

The designers specified Merkrete’s Hydro Guard SP-1 to provide reliable waterproofing for the hotel’s 490 guestrooms. Merkrete worked with general contractor R.D. Olson and tiling contractor Reptile Inc. to provide pricing and product availability that would accompany the bid for the project. The trio secured the bid with Merkrete’s sustainable solutions providing the ideal media for setting Sheraton’s nearly 100,000 sq. ft. of luxurious tile.

Once the hotel closed and R.D. Olson’s teams got to work, demolition exposed the extent of the flaws in the hotel’s substrate. “The biggest obstacle we had was the condition of the existing floors,” noted Reptile, Inc. Owner Mike Rubel. “They were all in pretty bad shape.” 

The guestroom floors had sizeable dips in the doorways between the entrance area and the en suite bathrooms. The hotel lobby and common areas revealed far greater issues. Rubel had used Merkrete products for a long time and knew that his teams would need several pallets of Pro Patch Plus to get the substrates in a condition ready to accept the large-format tile. 

Stone steps lead down to the new lobby café.

Unfortunately, the teams were working at the height of the raw material shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I used to be able to go to the stores and get whatever I want,” Rubel reminisced. “Now nobody has anything because of shipping and the economy and everything.”

Rubel worked closely with Merkrete Technical Sales Manager Sergio Flores to ensure materials would be available. The pair enlisted the help of Emser Tile Anaheim to provide product according to the renovation schedule. “We calculated approximately how much material he was going to need for the entire job,” explained Flores. “We also broke it down per phase since his teams were working level by level. We relayed that information to Emser so they would know what quantities Mike was going to need and when.”

Leveling floors. In no time…flat.

Merkrete’s Pro Patch Plus leveled all the lobby’s substrate imperfections from featheredge to a 1/2″ deep. Its quick-setting formula helped Rubel’s teams stay on the tight schedule managed by Gee, R.D. Olson, Reptile, Merkrete and Emser. In as little as 30 minutes, the Pro Patch Plus was ready to receive the crack-isolation membrane.

Merkrete’s Fracture Guard FD was selected to protect the hotel’s considerable flooring investment. The single-component, liquid-applied crack-isolation membrane has exceptional elongation that prevents cracks up to 1/8″ wide from transferring through to the tile. Its fast-drying protection spanned the entirety of the lobby, common areas and its new open-plan, artisan pizza restaurant, Savor.

Wood-look tile complements the modernized décor of the Sheraton’s new restaurant, Savor.

Merkrete’s 720 DUSTLESS LHT Mortar was chosen to bond all the Sheraton’s large-format tile. The professional-grade, polymer-modified mortar held several advantages that further allowed Reptile to stick closely to the project schedule. While most mixed mortars require a wait time of up to 15 minutes before a prescribed second mix, 720 DUSTLESS LHT Mortar’s slake-free formula was ready to spread after a single mix. This saved installation teams up to 12 hours per pallet of material used. Additionally, Merkrete’s patented DUSTLESS Technology (DLT) eliminated most dust during transportation, opening, and mixing. This created less mess and a quicker cleanup to keep the work on pace.

Revitalizing the rooms

Rubel’s teams began the guestroom work on the top floor. According to Flores, they worked floor by floor downward to coincide with Gee’s measured reopening of the hotel. Once the teams completed work on a floor, those rooms would become available for stays. The project schedule ensured virtually zero inconvenience to guests.

Each of the Sheraton’s rooms and suites enjoyed the same redesign motif found throughout the hotel. Bulkier furniture gave way to graceful, modern pieces. Lighter color schemes and inspiring artwork provide guests an environment in which to unwind, work or leisurely plan the next day’s activities. A large part of the design transition was the treatment of the en suite bathrooms.

More than 100,000 sq. ft. of tile was used to update the Sheraton’s aesthetic.

Timeworn 12″x12″ tile floors and stale bath and shower facilities would be replaced with large-format tile and contemporary fixtures. Rooms with showers had glass doors, linear drains and a minimalistic aesthetic that enhanced their clean, uncluttered appearance. Large 1/4″ Italian Laminam porcelain panels surrounded each bath and shower, providing a continuous surface unbroken by grout lines. 

Reptile waterproofed the new bathroom tiles using Merkrete’s Hydro Guard SP-1. The liquid-applied membrane formed a monolithic barrier that prevents damage behind the tile. Its antimicrobial properties resist mold and mildew to keep Sheraton’s guestrooms hygienic and safe. Hydro Guard SP-1 also cured in just two to four hours, keeping the renovation on schedule.

The bathrooms’ large porcelain panels included an epoxy resin on the back. Rubel was concerned this could impact a mortar’s adhesion performance, so he tasked Flores with producing the best Merkrete solution for the panels. A month of exhaustive validation showed 855 DUSTLESS XXL LHT would provide the non-sag, non-slump bond that will ensure lasting hold for the oversized panels.

Reintroducing the Sheraton

The Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort announced the completion of its renovation in April. For guests who had not been back to the hotel since the pandemic shutdown, the changes have been startling. “It’s like a night and day difference,” Gee beamed. “Fortunately, we have many guests who come back year after year. Those who have been with us so far have been absolutely blown away with what they see. It’s been a really positive experience for everybody, and that’s really reflected in our guest service scores, which have inclined significantly since this property has reopened.”

Merkrete’s Fracture Guard FD protects this 4″ x 16″ SpecCeramics tile from substrate cracks.

The team of Gee, R.D. Olson, Reptile, Inc., and Merkrete credits continuous communication and ample teamwork for the success of the renovations. By keeping the Merkrete product available and completing project phases on time, Gee was able to reopen increasing segments of the hotel to visitors.

“The project progressed well,” Flores stated. “Even though we had raw material challenges, we were still able to accommodate.” 

“Sergio was great,” Rubel responded. “Any time I needed anything, he was on it. At no point did I not have what I need. He made sure everything was readily available.”

“Everything is based on communication,” summarized Gee. “If you can communicate clearly and frequently, you will have a good understanding of what the ultimate goal is from both perspectives. Timing was always going to be an issue, particularly with the supply chain challenges that we’ve experienced. Fortunately, we’ve been able to pull through relatively unscathed.”  

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