NATIONAL REPORT—Two months ago, Delos announced the expansion of its Stay Well hotel room program into six Marriott hotels in the United States. According to Paul Scialla, Founder and CEO of Delos, the Marriott properties are the first hotel additions to the Stay Well program since October 2012. It was then that Delos landed the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas as a client. (Delos has since launched a Stay Well Meetings program.) Stay Well rooms feature a number of upgrades to enhance the health and quality of a room environment—water purification, vitamin C infused shower, mattress and pillow encasements, etc. Stay Well rooms at the six Marriott hotels will be available for approximately $30 per night above prevailing rates.
The notion of packaging together a group of green amenities and features, with the idea of making a guestroom healthier and more eco-friendly, and even deserving of a higher rate, is not a new one. For at least 10 years, PURE Solutions NA has worked with hotels around the world to offer PURE Rooms that undergo a seven-step purification process—steps ranging from the deep cleaning of air-handling units to a bacteriostatic barrier applied to all room surfaces to repel microorganisms. According to its website, PURE Solutions NA currently has 167 hotels in its program in North America. Brian Brault, CEO of PURE Solutions NA, told Green Lodging News that his company is in the final stages of securing a deal with a company that will result in more than 100 additional hotels offering PURE Rooms in the next seven to nine months.
Green Suites Hotel Solutions currently offers an EcoRoom Accommodations program. EcoRooms feature more than a dozen guestroom products that are energy efficient, water efficient, waste reducing, non-toxic or biodegradable. Products range from amenity dispensers to cleaning supplies to showerheads. As part of the program, hotels get use of the trademarked EcoRoom name and logo. Cole Wilcox, Director of Sales and Marketing for Green Suites Hotel Solutions, says that even though there are still properties in the EcoRoom Accommodations program, it has not gotten a lot of attention recently. “It has lost its sexiness,” Wilcox says. “It was really designed as a marketing program. A lot of the items are becoming more commonplace. The biggest aspect is still the marketing and gaining a green marketing advantage.” According to Wilcox, some hotels are currently charging more for EcoRooms.
An Elite Room Upgrade
National Energy Technologies LLC is in the process of rolling out what it calls its Elite Room program. It incorporates steps ranging from a full room sanitization using an ozone shock treatment to air purification to natural toiletries. According to Scott Milne, Chief Auditor for the company, the suggested premium for an Elite Room is $19.99. Elite Rooms can also be given away as an upgrade—to a guest who may have had an unpleasant experience that needs to be addressed, for example.
While the idea of asking guests to pay more for a healthier, more eco-friendly room appears to be getting a little more publicity lately, the overall number of properties charging more to breathe and sleep easier remains small. For this article Green Lodging News approached Delos, PURE Solutions NA, Green Suites Hotel Solutions, and National Energy Technologies LLC for comments.
Delos’ Paul Scialla took some time to address questions about many of the aspects of his company’s Stay Well rooms. The results of that interview are below. Input from others interviewed for this article follows Scialla’s comments.
Tell me a little bit about the water filtration system. Why is that needed in a hotel guestroom? What is typically unhealthy about tap water? What does the system filter out?
“Our Stay Well program is designed to maintain the health and well-being of guests on their travels. Advanced water purification is one of the many features included in our program. Our water purification system reduces the levels of disinfectant byproducts, such as chlorine, pesticides and other impurities, providing guests with the highest quality of in-room water.”
Tell me about the cleaning products used in the room. What is eco-friendly about them? Is there a particular brand that is used? Or, has Delos developed its own brand? What is typically hazardous about the types of cleaning products most often used in hotel guestrooms?
Stay Well suggests using cleaning products that deliver safe and effective results while reducing exposure to harsh chemicals. The Stay Well program does not specifically endorse or make product recommendations; however, our partners such as Marriott International and MGM Grand procure eco-friendly products from EcoLab. Many cleaning products used that are not eco-friendly can agitate asthma or contribute to other health conditions.
The showerhead removes chlorine. Why is that important? Does it remove other toxins as well?
As I mentioned above, our water purification systems do filter out chlorine as well as other impurities, which is important to our health as these chemicals can be very easily absorbed through the skin and can have a tremendous impact on our bodies. The Vitamin C Shower Infuser reduces chlorine which can dry your skin, hair and nails.
What is long wave night lighting?
Long wave night lighting provides less disruptive light at night. Subtle lighting sufficiently illuminates the room for safe navigation while minimizing sleep disruption.
What is unique about the memory foam mattress? Why are most mattresses found in guestrooms today not as healthy for guests?
Many memory foam mattresses are derived completely or partially from petrochemicals. The Stay Well mattress is unique because it uses key plant-based ingredients in order to achieve the pressure-relieving benefits of memory foam without comprising the health of guests through off-gassing.
What is unique about the bed linens?
Stay Well linens are manufactured exclusively for Stay Well and are made from 100 percent cotton infused with cutting-edge technology including Protx2, which provides built-in protection against odor causing bacteria, and DreamSkin, which leaves linens soft and static free.
There is a lot of emphasis on lighting quality and tone in your rooms. Is most lighting found in hotels today not conducive to healthy sleep patterns?
One of the primary functions light serves for the human body, in addition to allowing us to see, is to align our body’s biological clock, our circadian rhythm, with the sun’s 24-hour day. Many lighting systems are often not designed with our body’s circadian rhythm in mind. Because the body relies on light as an external cue, in the absence of proper lighting, we are predisposed to feelings of jet lag or lethargy, even without changing time zones. Therefore, it is important to design the room’s lighting with this in mind. Bluer lights are effective in signaling the body that it is daytime, so “cool white” lamps are best for daytime use. Conversely, the body depends on darkness to indicate nighttime, which is why warm lighting is necessary during the evening hours. Improper lighting impedes the quality of sleep, disrupts our body’s circadian rhythms and affects the production of melatonin, an imperative sleep hormone.
What is unique about the air filtration system and what does it remove from the air?
Harmful emissions from pollution and other chemicals in our outdoor environments can contribute to the air quality in our indoor environments, and can also therefore contribute to a number of health conditions including asthma, allergies, and other upper respiratory conditions. Indoor air conditions can also be compromised by a number of sources such as off-gassing from building materials, microbial contamination, and poor ventilation. To tackle harmful pollutants, we developed an air purification system that incorporates proper ventilation and air filtration and eliminates contaminants. The Stay Well air purification system provides germ defense by trapping and reducing bacteria, mold, and virus carrying particles.
Your company must have accumulated a significant amount of reaction so far to the Stay Well rooms. What are guests saying?
The response to Stay Well has been tremendously positive. At a time when demand for healthy travel is at an all-time high, guests appreciate wellness technologies, features and services that help support rejuvenating sleep, deliver purified air, provide specially filtered water and protect against allergens and germs. As a result, offering Stay Well rooms also offers an invaluable return on investment for hotels looking to distinguish themselves within the market, and we continue to receive excellent feedback and interest from guests and hoteliers alike.
Is more really being charged to stay in this type of room? How much more? I see Marriott is charging $30 more per night.
The fee to stay in a Stay Well room varies, but Stay Well rooms and suites at Marriott properties are available for approximately $30 per night above prevailing rates.
What is driving interest in these types of rooms?
Now more than ever, health and wellness have become a top priority in all facets of our lives. Guests are increasingly looking for ways to maintain their healthy lifestyles while on the road, and we continue to see a growing demand for healthy travel accommodations, features, amenities and wellness programming.
Have you thought about expanding the Stay Well room concept? For example, to the paints, floor coverings and furniture used in the rooms? These can worsen air quality.
Transforming indoor environments, where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, into spaces that help nurture, sustain and promote human health and well-being remains Delos’s first priority. As such, we are continuously looking for ways to expand and further develop the Stay Well program to meet guests’ needs.
Cleveland Clinic Wellness Programs
On its website, Delos includes a diagram of a Stay Well room that includes descriptions of each unique aspect of it. In addition to what is mentioned above about the room, Delos offers aromatherapy, blackout shade elements, Stay Well Mobile App that includes a tour of the Stay Well program, Jet Lag tool, Cleveland Clinic wellness programs and wellness tips.
In addition to deep cleaning of air-handling units and a bacteriostatic barrier applied to all room surfaces to repel microorganisms, PURE Solutions NA offers five other steps in its PURE Room process: the placement of a cartridge of tea tree oil in the air-handling unit to maintain sanitized conditions; carpet and upholstery cleaning using a PURE clean solution; one time shock treatment that destroys most mold, bacteria and odors; air purifier that kills most bacteria and viruses; and mattress and pillow encasements.
PURE Solutions NA’s Brault says his company focuses on eliminating airborne contaminants. Upgrades in recent years include a higher-grade air purifier that is now Energy Star certified. When asked what hotels are currently charging for PURE Rooms, Brault said, “The average nightly premium is about $24 but the most commonly charged is $20.” Hotels dedicate about 5 percent to 10 percent of room inventory to the PURE Rooms. In some cases entire floors have PURE Rooms. Hotels participating in the program can either buy it outright or share revenue with PURE Solutions NA.
A Defense Against Negative Comments
National Energy Technologies’ Milne says one of the main reasons he developed his Elite Room program is to give hoteliers a defense against negative comments. Citing Saks Fifth Avenue and how it empowers employees to handle unsatisfied customers, the Elite Room program is something hotel employees can offer as an upgrade to unsatisfied guests or as a more healthy alternative to a typical guestroom.
In addition to the items mentioned earlier in this article, Elite Rooms include a Vitamin C-infused showerhead that filters out chlorine, encasements for the mattress, box springs and pillows, natural cleaning products, upgraded LED lighting, and dawn simulation alarm clock.
Milne says it is affordable for a hotel to put his program in place and the program can be flexible if needed to meet a brand’s standards.
PURE Solutions NA’s Brault says interest in healthier room options is part of an overall growing awareness in wellness. “People are starting to be open to all the different aspects of living that affects their health,” he says.
Green Suites Hotel Solutions’ Wilcox says that as consumers and businesses consider more eco-friendly, healthier room options, they should do so with a bit of skepticism. “Is it really greenwashing?” he asks. “Is there science to back it all up?”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.