Home Publisher's Point of View Allergy-Friendly Rooms Force Re-evaluation of What is ‘Clean’

Allergy-Friendly Rooms Force Re-evaluation of What is ‘Clean’


To stay competitive, hotel companies always need to be on their toes. The trick is to offer amenities that do not hamper one’s ability to run a profitable operation. In recent years we have seen hotel brands introduce Heavenly Beds and even Select Comfort brand beds that allow one to adjust mattress firmness. Flat screen televisions are the next hot “got to have.”

Each of these innovations is meant to elevate the guest experience. There was a time when the playing field was more equal but those days are gone. Having a 100 percent nonsmoking facility used to be a unique market differentiator but that is changing—especially with Marriott’s decision to eliminate smoking in its hotels in the United States and Canada.

Having a green hotel most definitely is a unique advantage and will be for some time to come. But even that distinction may become more common over time. So, hotels will have to continually find ways to attract discerning guests. As you will read in my newsletter and on my website, some hotels are beginning to offer guests the option of choosing an allergy-friendly room—a room that includes air filtration and other features that eliminate allergens and even viruses. Not a bad idea.

Do you really know what is lurking around in your guestrooms? If you do not, you should. Volatile organic chemicals, dust mites, mold and viruses could be causing problems for one out of every four guests who stay at your property. It is that percentage of travelers who have allergies or chemical sensitivities. Even the chlorine in the water you provide can aggravate health conditions. The cleaning chemicals your housekeepers use could be causing health issues not only for them but for your guests as well.

Dust Mites in Your Guestrooms

Talk to Tom Pickles, Director of Operations at Pure Solutions NA, the Buffalo, N.Y.-based company that offers an allergy-friendly room system called the PURE room, and I guarantee you will never think about room cleanliness the same way again. Ask him about dust mites. Be prepared for some sobering news. They are everywhere in your pillows and mattresses. They dine on dead skin cells, reproduce, defecate and die all around your guests. Yikes!!

I have a strong suspicion you will not be bringing up the topic of dust mites to your guests. Most certainly, they are one of lodging’s dirty little secrets—very little, that is. The good news is that they can be controlled through the use of mattress and pillow encasements. Ask Tom or another vendor that sells encasements what qualities to look for to ensure maximum protection from the little critters.

According to the few people I have spoken with who have experienced PURE rooms, there is a very noticeable difference in indoor air quality. In fact, because the rooms offer much cleaner air than typical indoor or outdoor air environments, guests can actually feel physically better after staying in the rooms. One hotel company executive said he was quickly converted by the concept and now has seven air purifiers and pillow and mattress encasements in his own home.

Time will tell whether or not innovations such as the PURE room will penetrate the lodging market. I suspect it will. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if travelers someday have the option of reserving a chocolate-scented PURE room. Or, maybe vanilla? Why am I getting hungry?

Reservations With a Subscription

In recent weeks I have listed different promotions hotels are offering in conjunction with Earth Day. Here is one ongoing promotion being offered by the Oak Park Inn & Historic Hopkins House in Whitehall, Wisc.: For each reservation booked at the property, guests may choose from either a one-year subscription to Mother Earth News, a $10 donation to the Sierra Club, or a $10 donation to the Bike Club of Trempealeau County.

As always, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com, or by calling (440) 243-2055. I look forward to hearing from you.