VTACs vs. PTACs: Vertical units offer design freedom

Hospitality designers deal with many challenges when putting together guestrooms, but one obstacle that has haunted them for many years is disappearing before their eyes, literally. At least that was the case at the Best Western Atrea Colonnade Parkway in

Hospitality designers deal with many challenges when putting together guestrooms, but one obstacle that has haunted them for many years is disappearing before their eyes, literally. At least that was the case at the Best Western Atrea Colonnade Parkway in Woodway, Texas, which decided to use VTACs, vertical terminal air conditioners, instead of traditional packaged terminal air conditioning units in its 82 guestrooms.

The vertical units are different in one significant way—they can be installed inside a small closet in the guestroom instead of protruding from under the window as PTACs have for years.

“It makes guestrooms more appealing by making them more residential,” said Judie McComis, senior project interior designer and president of Belterra Design & Hospitality, who designed the guestrooms. The hotel opened last July.

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Owner Mayur Patel decided to go with the VTAC units not only because they could be concealed for better guestroom design, but also because the units can be controlled at the door, making it more convenient for guests when they first walk in, McComis said.

“This set-up really made the property more like a luxury hotel, not to mention the freedom in design it gave me,” she said.

VTACs allow more design freedom by eliminating certain restrictions when it comes to designing guestrooms, including limited curtain length at the site of the PTAC as well as minimized furniture layout options due to traffic flow blockage.

At the Best Western Atrea Colonnade Parkway, VTAC units were also helpful because of the number of suites, which allowed ductwork to evenly distribute air throughout each part of the rooms. All units were concealed in a closet on the opposite corner from the bed. This also freed up valuable window footage for the placement of desks or lounge chairs.

“It creates a feeling of more space,” McComis said.

Hidden benefits
Design firm Coben & Co. is working on two projects in New York for owner/developer the LAM Group that will feature VTACs. Owner Glen Coben said the VTAC units make sense in a market like Manhattan where real estate is at a premium because they allow for increased value when building a new hotel.

“The VTAC takes up floor area, which can be a mechanical deduction from square footage as it relates to the floor area to height ratio zoning limitations of a building. In the end, it can equate to additional guestrooms as well as more spacious guestrooms,” Coben said.

And if it did equate to even two more keys for an urban hotel, that could mean approximately $800,000 in added value, he said.

VTACs eliminate design flaws a room has with PTACs, Coben said.

“You don’t have to worry about cutting curtains short in one area, or the drapes billowing, or even light leakage,” he said. “If you want to place a desk at the window to take advantage of the city view, now you can.”

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