Courtesy of the International Window Film Association
The San Antonio Marriott Northwest has a welcoming four-story inner atrium to greet visitors. The guest rooms facing the atrium now feature window film that keeps people in the atrium from seeing into guest rooms.

Improving the Views for a Topline Hotel

March 8, 2023
The San Antonio Marriott Northwest needed a solution for guest privacy issues with its windows. Learn how a local installer solved the issues with window film.

The San Antonio Marriott Northwest is an upscale hotel located conveniently near the popular Interstates of 10 and 410 and about five miles from the San Antonio International Airport. Nearby are leading global businesses and popular landmarks such as the River Walk and the Alamo.

Built around 1985, the 11-story facility consists of nearly 150,000 square feet, housing 297 guest rooms, a fitness center, outdoor pool, restaurants, lounges and nearly 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. A four-story inner atrium greets visitors, and the elegant interior boasts warm wood accents and native stone to complement cool color tones that create a casual modern environment for work or relaxation.

The Problem

One of the sought-after features of the hotel include guest rooms that face the large atrium overlooking restaurants, lounges, water features and casual seating areas. While the rooms with a view delivered a sense of airy well-being, the proximity to the central hub of hotel activity also meant the interiors could be viewed by other guests seated or strolling through the atrium grounds.

While curtains offered privacy for the 82 rooms that opened to the atrium, sometimes this feature was overlooked by guests in the rooms. And for the 60-plus rooms that were on floors one, two and three, curtains drawn this way and that way, some open, some closed, some partially closed, made for a cluttered look when viewed from the context of the atrium floor space.

Hotel General Manager Anthony Spears characterized the problem as, “You could be seated for a nice breakfast in our restaurant and halfway through, a guest may open the drapes and you may be peering at an unmade bed, the TV on and guests getting ready for the day, so in a sense you had a front row seat to guest rooms, especially for the first three floors facing the atrium.”

Spears is a seasoned general manager with over 30 years in the hotel business, most of that time as a manager. He felt there had to be a solution that would retain the open feeling of the atrium, while at the same time providing needed privacy and a neat-looking and improved ambiance. After consulting with a regional vice president, and based on his understanding of hotel facility management, Spears felt some type of window darkening would be the solution for the indoor hotel windows, which are about 4 by 12 feet.

The Solution

The only way for guests to achieve privacy was to close the large window drapes facing the atrium, yet this resulted in a “closed in” feeling inside the rooms. If a guest left the drapes open, then guests in the atrium were exposed to whatever was happening inside the rooms.

After making several inquiries, Spears got in touch with an area window film installation business that was recognized for its quality of service and solutions. “We selected Fletch Window Tint of San Antonio for their reputation, knowledge, quality of work and their pricing,” said Spears.

To help the hotel management decide on what the best solution would be, Fletch Window Tint installed four full-size window samples on test rooms. “We installed a frost window film, an exterior silver window film, and two shades of an interior reflective film,” said Kevin Fletcher of Fletch Window Tint. “This allowed management to make a proper assessment of whether the film would sufficiently address the issue.”

Once it was decided to move ahead, hotel management blocked off the guest rooms that faced the atrium on a floor-by-floor basis, and over a five-day period, the work was completed mid-2022. In all, more than 120 windows had window film installed, including windows in areas such as the gym, pool area, conference rooms and lobby.

The window film company installed an interior window film with dual properties. Facing the inside of the room, it has a dark side rated at a 5% transparency and a mirrored side that faced the atrium. The 5% film is very hard to see past from the exterior view, but from inside of the room, guests can see through it.

In total, some 5,000 square feet of window film was installed, with an average cost of $10 a square foot. This cost included the installation on all windows facing the atrium, plus a special caulk applied to the inside window frame and edge of the window film to reduce the chance of it being accidentally peeled away. The extra step added a finished look to the installation. The window film also blocks 99% of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays that shine in from exterior atrium windows. This feature helps to reduce fading of furnishings and also protects guests’ skin from UV impacts.

The Fletch Window Tint solution selected by the hotel offered the highest amount of privacy with a low interior reflectance, offering the ability for guests to see out when the lights are on inside the room. And best of all, it is very difficult to see inside the rooms, even at night when lights are on inside the guest rooms. The rooms also have new sheer panel drapes that when drawn provide added privacy and assists in avoiding the “closed in” feeling.

Spears stated that from the exterior when standing or seated in the atrium, lounges or restaurants, the window film selected give the rooms a modern and clean look. “Working with Kevin and Sally Fletcher was a pleasure,” Spears said. “They were very hands-on and we would touch base along the process. Their installer, Steven, was the technician and he was amazing in his work and he did it quickly too. They all ensured I understood the process every step of the way, and guests who have stayed with us before have remarked on the improved appearance and easy-to-like room privacy.”

About the Author

Darrell Smith | PE, RRC

Darrell Smith is the executive director of the International Window Film Association, a role that he has held for over 25 years. He represents the interests of the window film industry to the National Fenestration Rating Council, the Glass Association of North America, the Protective Glazing Council International, the Glazing Industry Code Committee, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission, the International Code Committees and the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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