Need a breath of fresh air? Hotels to the rescue

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – Forget free wine hours and on-demand workout videos. An increasing number of hotels around the world are now providing guests the option to book rooms with filtration and purification systems that minimise threats of air pollution and offer cleaner air.

“Interior air quality can be abysmal,” said Beth McGroarty, research director for The Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit organisation for the wellness industry.

“Hotels are combating this by installing high-tech systems in some of their rooms that improve the air their guests are breathing.”

The quest for clean air is part of the growing interest in wellness travel, McGroarty said.

Outside conditions could certainly be a larger factor. According to data released last year by the World Health Organisation, 9 of 10 people globally breathe polluted air. Many top urban destinations, particularly in developing nations, have been recognised for unhealthy smog conditions.

Wildfires are becoming more frequent, affecting the air quality of hundreds of miles. And travellers with respiratory conditions or allergies may especially benefit from breathing cleaner air.

Most hotel properties generally charge a higher nightly rate for their clean air rooms, compared with their standard rooms, and while the amount varies depending on the hotel, a stay can be 5 to 7 per cent more expensive.

After wildfires in California, a new partnership

In January, the 556-room InterContinental San Francisco installed Molekule air purifiers in 30 of its rooms as part of a pilot project. According to Molekule’s chief executive, Dilip Goswami, the 2-foot tall, cylindrical devices plug into a power outlet and eliminate mold, bacteria, chemicals, allergens and viruses through the company’s patented air purification technology.

Harry Hobbs, an area director of engineering for InterContinental Hotels, said that indoor air quality is more important to the hotel following the wildfires that occurred last year in Paradise, California, about a three-hour drive away.

“Even though the wildfires weren’t near the city, they affected the air quality, and many of our guests asked us for masks and filters because they had breathing difficulties. Our staff was also uncomfortable,” he said.

“After this initial trial, I want to offer cleaner air in more rooms and more hotels.”

Clean air that starts with deep cleaning

The hotel wellness company Pure Wellness has designed “Pure Rooms,” available in 300 hotels globally and spanning several companies including Marriott, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites and Hyatt.

Pure Rooms are guest rooms that have been deep cleaned with plant-based and microbial-resistant cleaners, developed to prevent the growth of fungus, bacteria and mold on surfaces. The rooms are also equipped with portable air purifiers.

Travellers can find a room with these air-filtration systems on the company’s website. Vinny Lobdell Jr., the company’s president, said that the company will add more rooms in another 200 hotels this year, and Pure Rooms usually comprise 3 to 5 per cent of a hotel’s total room inventory.

In-room purifiers, worldwide

The wellness technology company Delos is behind the “Stay Well” designation of more than 1,000 hotel rooms found globally, including those in Wyndham, Marriott and MGM Grand hotels.

One of their key features is a wall-mounted air-purification filter that aims to reduce allergens and microbes. For Wyndham’s 50 hotels in North America, the rooms are now a brand standard: According to Danica Boyd, the company’s vice-president of brand operations, all of its properties will have at least some Stay Well rooms by the end of this year.

Clean air where it’s needed most

When The Oberoi in New Delhi reopened last year following a renovation, air purifiers were installed throughout the hotel, including in all the rooms, to combat the worsening issue of Delhi’s polluted air.

More than 40 of the new purifiers filter exterior air as it enters the building; the hotel also measures the quality of the interior air twice a day.

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