By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I’m prone to smoke allergies and want to breathe easier at a hotel. The question is which hotel?

A: More hotel chains are adapting to allergy-friendly practices with many offering allergy-free suites if requested. One such chain is the Westin hotels and resorts which is part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide company.

This past January, the company announced all 77 Westin hotels in the US, Canada and the Caribbean went 100% smoke-free including all guestrooms and public areas, making it the first 100% smoke-free hotel chain.

Another resource that just came on the Internet scene is which lists 200 smokefree hotels on its online database. The web site is organized by hotels in the US and by international hotels and is updating entries regularly so it’s an on-line resource worth bookmarking for smoke allergy sufferers.

Currently, on the international-hotel front the entries are all Canadian. Provinces include British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. In B.C. the Listel Hotel and Blue Horizon Hotel are listed. Denis Herron, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Hilton Palm Beach Florida Airport whose property is listed on FreshStay said, “We went smokefree a year ago. I believe smokefree is fast becoming the standard instead of the exception.” Herron said the area’s bars and restaurants went smokefree a while ago, so converting the 22-year-old property to smokefree in early 2005 made even more sense.

“Our occupancy jumped nine percentage points in 2005, from 78 percent to 87 percent, partly because of our decision to go smokefree,” Herron said. “Before, we had eight non-smoking floors and one smoking floor. Guests would complain their nonsmoking rooms had been smoked in by previous guests — and that’s a lingering smell you cannot deny, nevertheless try and eliminate.” According to the web site developers, FreshStay has a point system it uses for hotels to qualify as part of its smoke-free status and uses the pineapple as a symbol.

For instance, properties committed to providing clean indoor air guaranteeing non-smoking rooms at the point of reservation receive two pineapples and 100 per cent smokefree hotels receive three pineapples.

Future plans for the web site also include listing and rating hotels that offer such items as being cleaned with Green Seal-certified products, having walls covered with low-odour, low-VOC paints, and offering improved air and water filtration and allergen-barrier products.


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