By Terry Trucco
Once upon a time, no hotel room was complete without an ashtray. Non-smoking rooms eventually appeared and, voila, room categories were born.
Now the choices for guests booking at a small but growing number of hotels include a third category — the hypo-allergenic room, cleansed within an inch of its life of nearly all surface and air-born impurities. For the estimated one in five people afflicted with allergies or asthma, this is news worth noting.
This month Hyatt became the first hotel chain to mount a grand-scale effort to purify its rooms – at least some of them. More than 60 full-service Hyatts currently offer the brand’s new Respire Hypo-Allergenic rooms, including the Andaz Fifth Avenue, Andaz Wall Street and Grand Hyatt, whose entire 29th floor is pure Respire, in New York.
Creating a hypo-allergenic environment costs $2,400 a room for a two-year program of installation and maintenance, resulting in an additional charge of $20 to $30 a night. The rooms comprise two to five percent of each hotel’s offerings and come in all sizes, from queen and king bed rooms to suites. By the end of the year, Hyatt expects a total of 2,000 Respire rooms will be available in 125 full-service hotels throughout the US, Canada and the Caribbean.
We recently stopped by the Grand Hyatt to check one out.
Room 3029, a Respire showroom, looked terrific, though that had less to do with its uber-cleanliness than its stylish new design, a prototype for the hotel’s current – and much-needed – grand-scale renovation.
Most of the components that make a room hypo-allergenic can’t be seen. The exceptions are subtle.
A discreet medical-grade air purifier, no bigger than a waste basket, hums in a corner as it
continuously circulates the air. Air in a treated room is on average 10 times more pure than what you’ll breath outdoors due to lower particulate counts, says Brian Brault, CEO of Pure Solutions, the six-year-old Buffalo, NY company that created – and patented — the hypo-allergenic system.
And if you pull back the bed linens on the mattress and pillows you’ll see white fabric casings, designed to create a barrier against dust mites, a common allergy irritant.
The main thing you notice is what’s missing – odors, humidity and that close feeling often found in hotel rooms.
Behind Respire’s ultra-clean air lies a seven-step process. This includes sealing off the room for a one-time 45-minute ozone shock treatment to eliminate odors caused by smoke, pets and mold and the application of a bacteriostatic barrier to prevent bacteria growth on surfaces. Soft surfaces are additionally treated to remove dirt, bacteria and mold.
Meanwhile, air units are cleaned, sanitized and outfitted with cartridges of tea tree oil, a natural disinfectant, to maintain cleanliness.
Once in place, “the system doesn’t rely on the hotel staff,” says Brault, whose company has outfitted hypo-allergenic rooms in
several other New York hotels, including the Park Central, Paramount, Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Times Square, Radisson Lexington Hotel and Wyndham Garden Inn. Each room is accessed and re-certified every six months.
Brault, a veteran entrepreneur, led Advanced Facilities Services International, a large commercial cleaning company, for 23 years. He launched Pure Solutions six years ago, working with a Swedish engineer who wanted to develop a hypo-allergenic system for hotels.
Brault practices what he preaches. When he spotted a complimentary copy of Cigar Aficionado magazine on a table in the room, he removed it. The fine for smoking in a Respire room, by the way, is $250.