Bodhi at Albany, Bahamas

Providing a world-class client experience at 600-acre luxury resort

What would you say to a building intelligence platform that enhances the guest experience while cutting costs, keeps mechanical and electronic systems working perfectly and prevents property damage?

“Bodhi gives us alerts on a range of issues, identifying them for us before our guests know anything is wrong,” explains John Engler, Vice President of Operations for Albany, Bahamas, a 600-acre luxury resort community located just outside of Nassau. “More than that, it gives homeowners and managers a peace of mind that would not be possible otherwise.”

Bodhi was developed at Albany and has been in constant use there since 2014. It now protects more than 160 residences in seven condominium buildings, with plans to add more.

“Greg Michelier and his crew have done a fabulous job in developing this system,” Engler adds. “There’s no way we’d be able to maintain the level of satisfaction that we do without it.”

Five-star service

Albany is truly a world-class resort, which Forbes Magazine called the most exclusive in The Bahamas, and Indagare defined as a “full-service utopia.” Albany includes a championship golf course, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a financial center, recording studio, and a 71-slip marina built for mega yachts as large as 250 feet.

“More than the physical facilities, though impressive as they are, the advantage of being in such a clubby place is the familiar feeling with a caretaking staff,” wrote Laurie Werner, Forbes travel writer. “I was only there three days and I already felt it and saw a number of residents hugging staff members and asking about their families.” In a community like this, even four-star service would never make the grade.

Engler says Albany first approached Michelier in 2013, asking what kinds of technology might help protect the property from the beautiful, yet difficult climate of The Bahamas. “He listened to our concerns, then said, ‘this is something we will have to build from scratch.’”

Moisture control was management’s biggest worry.

“The condo buildings at Albany all have these wonderful balconies overlooking the marina,” Michelier explains. “Naturally guests would be tempted to leave their patio doors open from time-to-time, so they could go back and forth from the balconies into their units.” When they did, the air conditioning would crank up to compensate, not only wasting energy but allowing humid outside air to condense near the system’s vents on the condo ceilings.

A related problem was the possibility of leaky pipes and icemakers, dripping water into floors, walls and ceilings.

Michelier’s partner Rock Scofield programmed the original Bodhi application, and he suggested adding a sensor to the Crestron-based climate control system to detect whether the doors were open or shut. If a guest left a door open for more than five minutes, it would shut off the AC and send a notification to management. Only when the door was shut again would the AC come back on.

Scofield also integrated a water flow sensor into each condo and into the Bodhi application, at the same time tying it to the property’s security system. “When security is set to ‘home,’ the flow sensor will not trigger an alarm, because we expect guests to run the water frequently,” he explains. “But if guests are ‘away’ and it still detects a regular flow, that means a faucet is dripping or there’s a leak in the plumbing, and that triggers a visit from someone on the maintenance staff.”

The ability for property managers to access and control these functions was crucial to the platform’s success, so Scofield created a browser-based interface accessible from any computer, phone or tablet. Should it detect a problem, the system sends alarms to appropriate staff in the form of emails or texts.

Climate and lighting control

Management loved the moisture control features, and they also asked for enhancements to the Crestron climate and lighting control systems on the property.

For the climate systems, Scofield gave management the ability to set minimum and maximum temperatures for each condo. “Some guests will turn the air conditioning down as low as it can possibly go, while others want to keep it quite warm,” he explains. Neither is ideal in a tropical climate, where either humidity or condensation may be present.

Scofield also added some automated features to the Crestron lighting controls. Now when guests are ‘away,’ the lights turn down to a level management chooses, saving energy while, depending on the unit’s location, enhancing security. When guests return, lights automatically come back up, creating a welcoming environment. If guests leave their balcony lights on overnight, they turn off automatically in the morning.

Additionally, when the resort hosts a special event, such as the annual PGA TOUR’s Hero World Challenge, management can set up special lighting effects on the spectacular glass-fronted balcony pools that line the Honeycomb and Cube marina residence buildings.

Evolving in the cloud

Since Michelier and his partners installed that original system, they have added a number of important features, including a ticketing system to keep track of alarms and their resolution, analytics to help management understand the use of each condo unit and the health of the various systems and security features that give staff and outside suppliers access to only the parts of the property they need, keeping them accountable for the work they do.

Michelier and Think Simple made the biggest change in 2017, hiring software engineer Raul La Rosa to head the team building a new version of Bodhi. Version 2 has several crucial new features.

First, it’s no longer necessary for a technician to visit the property to change a setting or a scheduled event. “Now the property managers and engineers can make any needed changes themselves in real time,” Michelier says.

Second, the platform is far more secure, intuitive and efficient. “Everything is now on a distributed, microservice infrastructure,” he explains. “What that means is that the scheduler, analytics, history and database are all on their own redundant servers, so that if we need to redeploy or upgrade one aspect of the program, none of the others are affected.”

Third, “the system is completely transparent to management and guests. We give each an appropriate level of control, but no one can manipulate the core system without high-level clearance.”

Finally, Bodhi now controls Lutron as well as Crestron processors, plus any Z-Wave devices.

“Honestly, I don’t believe that without the Bodhi management platform and its integration into our building systems we would be able to provide the same level of experience for our clients,” Engler says. “It’s that important.”