One of the most read articles on Green Lodging News, with almost 10,000 views, is “How to Better Accommodate Travelers with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).” It is proof of the great interest in the topic. When I wrote that article in 2014, it was estimated that MCS affects about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but more than 30 percent of the population is fragrance sensitive.
As much interest as there is in MCS, not enough has been done in our industry to accommodate travelers with MCS. If you google “chemical free hotels,” you will not find much. I spoke with someone this past week who is trying to change that.
Teresa Molitor Luttrell, owner of the four-bedroom Enliven Bed and Breakfast in Kenmore, Wash., says she plans to launch www.chemicalfreeinns.com by March. The site will emphasize education, selling products that are helpful to those with MCS, and will include a list of chemical free inns. The listed inns will not be certified.
Luttrell knows a lot about MCS. She suffered from Lyme disease for 30 years before being properly diagnosed. Her B&B, open since 2009, caters to folks with chemical sensitivities. Cleaning chemicals, pesticides and herbicides are not used. A steam vapor cleaning system is used for cleaning—for bathrooms, floors, kitchens. “I use it on the bedding, the pillows. It really helps a lot,” Luttrell says.
Bedding is all organic. Mattresses are organic cotton and wool and topped by a wool topper. All the pillows are organic wool or down covered. Linens are made from organic cotton, as are the towels.
Mold Avoidance Steps Taken
Water alarms are installed to warn of any water leaks that could lead to mold growth. “We have air filtration and a UV light on the furnace,” Luttrell says. “Air quality is important. All guests have access to filtered water.”
The B&B does not have WiFi out of respect for those with sensitivities to electromagnetic fields. There is wired Internet service. The property is inspected annually for 32 types of mold and has received a superior rating. The Environmental Relative Mold Index (ERMI) is the name of the test. The B&B has also scored well on the HERTSMI-2 test. The HERTSMI2 can technically be a separate mold test, but it is also a different way of scoring the ERMI. HERTSMI2 scores molds (included in the full ERMI) that are known to be dangerous to human health.
What Luttrell is doing is working. Occupancy last year ran 89 percent. “A lot of business is through referrals,” she says. “I do a lot of medical tourism here. People searching for chemical-free housing find me. I usually have a wait list.”
Kudos to Luttrell for using her own painful experience to help others and for building what should be the go-to portal for travelers seeking chemical-free stays.
May what she is doing be an inspiration to others in our industry to step it up when it comes to accommodating travelers with MCS.
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