Posted by Cris on | October 1, 2011 | 2 Comments
An attack of asthma or allergic rhinitis can downright ruin a good holiday. Who wants to go out for dinner or sightseeing with a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes; the pool is definitely a no-go for those who really suffer. But relief is on the way. The hottest amenity in the U.S hotel industry is about to hit Asian shores: allergy-friendly hotel rooms.
Dozens of large hotel chains are currently building “Pure Rooms” in their Asian properties, which offer allergy suffers a purified environment that’s as close to allergen-free as you can get. There are about 100 of these rooms in Asia right now at a range of hotels, including The Claridges Surajkund and ITC Maurya, in India, The Kowloon Shangri-La and The Excelsior, in Hong Kong, and Le Meridian And Grand Formosa Regent in Taipei. But that figure is set to explode. Over 5,000 Pure Rooms will be added to Asia’s hotel room supply within the next 24 months.
The company behind this drive is Pure Solutions, whose sister company, Healthway, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medical grade air quality systems. Pure, the solutions arm of the operation, creates, certifies and maintains “pure rooms” in hotels and office buildings across the U.S.. They work with every major hotel chain, including the Hyatt, Four Seasons, Westin, J.W. Marriott and dozens more.
Here’s how it works: Pure’s staff do an initial deep cleaning of a designated room, giving the carpets, drapes and walls thorough once-over with safe, plant-based cleaning products. Then they seal the room and give it a high ozone shock treatment that kills off any remaining living organisms. That effectively sanitizes every nook and cranny of the room. Then they spray on a patented food-grade agent (so it’s not toxic) onto every surface of the room using an electrostatic sprayer. This forms a barrier on the carpets, drapes and surfaces. This process is repeated every six months. On top of that, Pure rooms are fitted with a medical-grade air purifier, and mattresses and pillows are encapsulated in dust mite resistant bedding.
Allergy-friendly rooms are one of the hottest new amenities in America’s hotel market right now. Around 40% of hotels in the U.S. now offer allergy friendly options, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “Pure is a valued new room category. Hotels are now realizing there is a substantial need: one in three people suffer from asthma, allergies or chemical sensitivities – hotels are asking ‘why are we not providing them a solution?’,” says Vinny Lobdell Jr., the executive vice president of Healthway Home Products.
The company’s hotel solutions unit is now expanding to Asia as demand for Pure Rooms grows. The company is working with several hotel chains, including India’s ITC, which operates a luxury brand in it’s own name, and manages the Sheraton brand in India. Aside from India, Pure is currently working with three Novotels in Thailand, and other hotels in Jakarta and China. All up, there are about 200 individual hotels across the region that plan to add a selection of Pure rooms in the next 18 months. “Asia’s our next growth market,” he says. “It’s about reaching critical mass. There are more people that have a heightened awareness of a better well being, and they want this kind of amenity. Hotels are responding to that.”
That’s good news for allergic travelers. And there’s plenty of those here in Singapore (my family included!) Southeast Asia is a particularly bad pace for dust mites, which thrive in the region’s warm, steamy tropical conditions. Dust mite allergies can trigger asthma and allergic rhinitis, and people with one of these allergies typically suffer from the other. It’s particularly hard on little kids: in Singapore, one in five of school-going children suffer from asthma, and one in ten suffer from eczema – and around 90% of those kids have a dust mite allergies. The dust mite allergy tends to trigger the other two allergic reactions.
The extra cost for a Pure room: anywhere from US$20 to $100 per night, depending on the hotel chain. Watching your family splashing around the pool and really enjoying their holiday: priceless.