SAINT CHARLES, MO.—Hot on the heels of Starwood Hotels & Resort’s announcement that its Westin Hotels would go smoke free, entrepreneur Ray Burger has launched a new Web site for hotels that are smoke free. As of late March, the online directory at www.freshstay.com had grown to 200 hotels.
“An average of five smoke-free properties is added to the online directory every day,” says Burger, president and founder of Pineapple Hospitality Inc., which owns and manages the site. “Already, most states and 100 cities are represented. Dozens of national and regional brands as well as management companies, franchisees and independent owner/operators have joined the rapidly growing network.”
The Web site awards hotels guaranteeing non-smoking rooms at the point of reservation two pineapples, while 100 percent smoke-free hotels automatically earn three pineapples. The more fresh indoor air products, processes and practices a property has, the more pineapples it will earn. On the Web site, hotels are organized by region and then by state. In the near future, the site will list and rate hotels that offer enhanced accommodations, including those being cleaned with Green Seal-certified products, having walls covered with low-odor, low-VOC paints, offering improved air and water filtration and allergen-barrier products.
“The fresh idea from Pineapple is that we need to make it much easier for travelers to locate and select non-smoking properties with better indoor air quality near their destinations,” Burger says. “It should also be easier for those properties to market their enhanced accommodations to this loyal and growing customer base.”
Rob Cardwell, director of sales and marketing at The Parkway Hotel in St. Louis, said the 220-room property joined the FreshStay directory network because it helps the business better serve its fresh air-oriented customers.
“We’ve been non-smoking property wide since we opened in December 2003, but FreshStay.com will really help us get that message out to the masses now that tobacco smoke, odors and indoor air quality in general are major hot buttons for consumers.”
Rolling Oaks Hospitality Inc. in Springfield, Mo., manages the 102-room Krystal Aire hotel, which is 100 percent non-smoking. Rolling Oaks President Lonnie Funk says fresh indoor air has become all the rage it should have been all along. Krystal Aire converted from a regional brand in March 2004, when it went tobacco free.
“We were able to increase our rates nearly 50 percent while eliminating franchise fees,” Funk says. “We have a better bottom line—about 30 percent better—as a non-smoking independent than we did as a branded hotel offering smoking and non-smoking rooms.”
There is also a hard and soft assets incentive to kicking the tobacco habit. Cardell says that soft goods tend to last longer and properties tend to retain and grow their asset value better as non-smoking facilities.
Funk says it took Rolling Oaks four months and a bit of labor and monies to clean up the air and soft goods in guestrooms and public spaces before launching the 100 percent non-smoking Krystal Aire brand.
“We changed our carpeting everywhere, resealed and repainted all the ceilings and walls, cleaned and replaced vents, and changed out drapes, bedding and the box springs,” Funk says. “It was a sizeable investment but one that was worth every penny for our guests, staff, property managers and owners.”
For more information on FreshStay.com, contact Ray Burger at firstname.lastname@example.org.