Tile Shower Innovation Delivers

Tile Shower Innovation Delivers
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa Hotel Renovation 

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is considered a landmark in northern Michigan and an
essential player in the region’s tourism. True to its name, the resort takes great pride in
ensuring the guest experience is truly “grand”. From November 2022 to May 2023, the
resort underwent an expansive $10.5M renovation on its six-story hotel, to transform the
240 existing guestrooms and add two new guest suites. Throughout the design process,
the team responsible was committed to capturing the beauty of northern Michigan and
honoring the traditions of the property’s owners – The Grand Traverse Band (GTB) of
Ottawa & Chippewa Indians. By incorporating organic elements from nature and GTB
tribal artwork, the design team achieved a warm and familiar, yet chic and contemporary

Given its compressed renovation timetable, the resort sought the expertise of local
partners to meet construction goals. Welch Tile and Marble, a trusted company from
near Grand Rapids, was selected for its outstanding reputation and its innovative new
time-saving prefabricated shower system, Welch Tile Solutions (WTS). The patented
system proved instrumental in delivering the 242 beautiful new guest bathrooms on
schedule and within budget, aligning perfectly with the resort’s focus on quality
craftsmanship and attention to detail. 

Game-Changing, Time-Saving Innovation

Dan Welch, owner of Welch Tile, is well-known in the tile industry for his extensive
experience, innovation and dedication to quality tile installations. Prior to the pandemic,
Dan and his team began working on WTS as a way to help sustain both the business
and the tile industry, during economic downturns and the chronic skilled labor shortages
faced by tile installers. With its efficiency, affordability and high quality, WTS has
become a win for Welch, a win for the tile industry, and a win for the Grand Traverse
Resort and Spa project.

After reviewing the resort’s renovation plans, Welch knew immediately that WTS would
be game-changing for the project’s tight timeline. WTS was already successfully
installed in hundreds of locations, but the resort’s hotel would be WTS’s largest project
to-date. Welch noted “it was gratifying that the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa team
was open to innovative ideas. I explained the advantages of Welch Tile Solutions, and
the hotel’s project team was quick to approve use of our system for all 242 shower

Partnership & Experience Strengthen Performance

The WTS system includes a unique prefabricated shower pan and wall panels that not
only save time, money, and wear-and-tear on installers, but also ensure high-quality
end-results while meeting industry standards for waterproofing. When developing WTS,
the team at Welch used their extensive experience to anticipate and address every
possible obstacle to proper shower pan construction and tile / wall panel installation.
When an adhesive challenge fell outside their wheelhouse, Welch turned to long
standing partner, H.B. Fuller, maker of TEC ® tile installation materials. As experts in
adhesives, H.B. Fuller helped Welch test and choose the right Swift®bond Adhesive
with the exact properties needed to successfully bond the WTS waterproofing
membrane to the shower base. Welch trusts TEC tile installation materials for their WTS

WTS can accommodate just about any tile, drain location and shower wall design. No
other prefab system offers the quality, design flexibility and performance of the Welch
solution. The system even has built-in flexibility to meet on-site variations in drain
location. The hotel’s new shower design of a herringbone tile pattern for the floors and
large porcelain tile panels for the walls posed no issues for TEC and WTS. Welch
preassembled the shower pans and wall panels in their West Michigan area facility and
then shipped components 130 miles to the resort’s jobsite for installation. In-house,
Welch designed an innovative, adjustable work table to save time and installers’ knees,
backs and hips by keeping project components at a comfortable, waist-high working
height during fabrication. A more comfortable installation allows workers to maintain
peak performance and results and reduces the amount of time installers are on their
knees during installation. 

Installation Materials’ Labor-Saving Technology

For the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa shower tile installations, Welch chose TEC®
TotalFlex® 110 Universal Polymer-Modified Mortar for its exceptional open time and
ultra-smooth troweling, as well as its outstanding performance in submerged
applications. The mortar offered robust non-sag/non-lump adhesion for both the hotel’s
large porcelain 24” x 48” wall tiles and the small floor tiles. Megan Garvey, Welch’s
manager of manufacturing and marketing explained that “TotalFlex Mortar was an ideal
choice for this project, because working with it is so easy and turnaround is so quick.
The super smooth trowelling was an especially important advantage since our installers
had 242 showers to build and a compressed time frame.” 

For grouting, TEC® Power Grout added stain proof* properties and strength that will
keep the hotel grout looking great for the long-term. With resistance to shrinking,
cracking and wet conditions, Power Grout will withstand the rigors of daily guest use.
Garvey mentioned that they appreciated the grout’s quick cure, so that caulking could
begin in as few as four hours after grouting at the Welch facility. Color-matched TEC®
AccuColor 100® 100% Silicone Sealant was also used in the preassembly. In addition,
Power Grout’s strength helped withstand the rigors of shipping the WTS components.  

Once shipped to the resort, a small team of Welch installers efficiently installed the 242
WTS shower pans and wall panels. Work progressed at a fast pace as the Welch teams
of two installed the shower pans with TEC® Full Flex® Premium Thinset Mortar and
then put up the wall panels. The installation was finished with TEC® AccuColor
100® 100% Silicone Sealant. With quick cure time of just 24-hours for the showers, the
Welch workers were fortunate to be able to stay in the newly remodeled resort hotel
rooms overnight and continue the efficient installations the next day. H.B. Fuller
National Technical Manager Heather Ruhl visited the WTS pre-assembly construction
and subsequent installation at the resort. Ruhl observed that “Welch Tile Solutions’
highly efficient process with no sacrifice in quality is game-changing. The non-stop
prefabrication process was impressive to watch. TEC products have become a
seamless part of the WTS construction methodology. At the resort, the shower
installations each took perhaps one hour, instead of the more than two days for
traditionally installing substrate, properly waterproofing, setting and grouting the tile.” 

The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s renovation has been well-received by the public.
Welch Tile and Marble’s innovative WTS enabled timely completion of the guest
showers, saving the project months of construction time vs. traditional shower build-
outs. Leveraging Welch Tile’s experienced team and trusted TEC installation materials,
the WTS process delivered the luxurious aesthetic that guests expect at the Grand
Traverse Resort and Spa. With a proven track record and a commitment to excellence,
Welch Tile is eager to bring the benefits of WTS to new geographies, offering the
innovation’s efficiency and ability to accommodate unlimited tile options to future

*Power Grout is stain proof to most common water based stains when cleaned immediately. The
prolonged exposure of any stain will increase the likelihood of permanent staining or discoloration of the
grout surface.

Posted by
TEC Staff