The Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Los Angeles is a high-end, boutique resort destination. For the hotel component, the project team wanted a quiet and reliable HVAC system with a contemporary look that could meet the varying needs of the hotel. The solution was Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.

John Ramirez, VP of construction, R.D. Olson Construction, Inc., Irvine, explained a significant challenge of the project: “It’s a really large facility. The hotel is seven stories and has 100 rooms. The rooms are all large and luxurious.” With many other amenities and varying spaces, “The challenge was to make sure every space was comfortable. VRF offered that.”

Corey Hampton, commercial estimator, Thermal-Cool, Inc., Riverside, California, estimated the cost of the job and served as the project manager. He said, “Three VRF manufacturers bid on the project. Mitsubishi [Electric] fit the function of the building the best, which was about reducing the number of branch controllers ... [and] ceiling access panels, which architects just don’t like.”

Choosing Mitsubishi Electric also meant working with a two-pipe system versus a three-pipe system. “When you have just two pipes, you save a lot of the cost on copper and at least 20 percent on labor. Minimizing labor is huge,” said Hampton.

Hampton also preferred Mitsubishi Electric because of product quality and project support. He said, “This is our fourth time using Mitsubishi [Electric] and so far it’s been great. We’ve yet to have one service call – and service calls can be a real nightmare for a contractor. And then for support, with the hotel, we had project support the entire time. We really called on Mitsubishi [Electric], and we got answers right away. It’s the best customer service I’ve dealt with.”

The system’s advanced controls were another plus; they offer smooth and effective daily operation. Ramirez said, “Mitsubishi Electric’s management system allows an engineering staff to ensure the system is functioning as it’s supposed to. You can put the management system in a central location, so everything can be overseen from one spot.”

VRF’s small footprint and flexibility offered quick installation: “We had the system installed in 50 days.” Hampton explained that installation was made easier – and cheaper – because of the ability to go ductless. “With ductless cassettes, the hotel saw a savings of about $350 per unit. That’s by saving on things like labor for the installation, the ductwork itself and diffusers.” With 183 ductless cassette units installed, the hotel saved more than $64,000. Ceiling cassettes also enabled the guest room entryways to be three to four inches taller – making the rooms feel bigger.

The project team has been impressed by how the technology provides a positive experience for hotel guests. Hampton said, “What I’ve learned is that, in hotels, you can really hear the air conditioning. With PTACs – you just can’t sleep. But Mitsubishi [Electric] is super quiet. You can’t hear it. For a hotel, that’s a real advantage.”

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