Posh portable toilets gaining popularity for events
by Diana Lamirand
It's a far cry from your great-grandpa's stinky outdoor privy. In fact, the woodwork, flowers and artwork included in some luxury portable restrooms may even rival the bathrooms in your own home.
The climate-controlled units with flushing porcelain toilets are gaining popularity, especially among event organizers catering to upscale clientele who rent them for black-tie events, weddings, festivals and more.
"Their guests tend to stay longer when they have a nice restroom to use," says Emerson Waters, co-owner of highly rated Royal Restrooms of the Carolinas.
The nationwide company has offices in 16 states, with each franchise individually owned and operated. The company's Platinum Edition Executive Restroom rents for about $1,100 per day, compared with about $90 a day for a typical portable toilet. It offers air conditioning or heat, oak woodwork, hardwood floors, a stereo system, private stalls, sinks with running water, vanity and mirror, soap, hand towels, rugs, framed artwork, silk flowers and yes, even breath mints. It is available as a two- or three-stall unit.
Waters says women especially want a nice restroom.
"They don't want to go into a Porta-John," he says. "The luxury portable restrooms make them feel like home, and not like they're walking into a germ pit."
For Doug and Kelly Carrigan, who own and operate The Quarry at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville, N.C, an outdoor venue, Royal Restrooms' posh potties are a necessity because there are no flush toilets on the 120-acre property.
"I'm a guy, I'll pee in the woods," says Doug Carrigan. "But some girls get a little excited about that."
On Site Sanitation, a highly rated company in St. Paul, Minn., rented luxury toilets to the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, says Dave Holm, the company's president. The trailer-mounted Onyx Ultima, which costs $3,000 to $5,000 for a weekend, has climate controls, hot and cold running water, faux marbled walls and countertops, stereo system, private stalls, china sinks in oak cabinets with mirrors, a full-length mirror and skylight.
"People who are using the high-end restrooms are hosting expensive events and they want something a little bit better," Holm says.
The nicer portable toilets are popular in rural areas where many folks have septic systems. Stephanie Selmer, an Angie's List member in Dutton, Va., rented two individual units for $80 each from highly rated Trudy's Portable Toilets for her sister's wedding.
"People have such a bad image of portable toilets, so I was a little leery at first," she says. "But we have a septic system and we had close to 100 people. It would have overwhelmed our system. These were fantastic. The flowers inside were a nice touch."
Companies should be licensed, insured and employ certified service technicians, says Millicent Carroll of the Portable Sanitation Association International, an organization that tests workers' technical skills and industry knowledge.