Smoke-free hotel chains increasing
by Lori Martinez
Published - 08/10/06 - 07:48 AM | 5140 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Smoke-free is the way to be, according to various hotel chains in the area.

A decision was made late last year by Westin Hotels and Resorts to go smoke-free in all of their North American locations, an initiative aptly called "Breathe Westin."

Marriott International, Inc. is now following suit with an announcement last month that all of the company's lodging brands in the United States and Canada will become 100 percent smoke-free beginning in September, including the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina located on West Harbor Drive.

The Marriot policy marks the hotel industry's largest move to a nonsmoking environment, with more than 2,300 hotels and corporate apartments and nearly 400,000 guest rooms under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Courtyard, ResidenceInn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites and Marriott ExecuStay brands.

"The vast majority of our guests favor a completely smoke-free hotel environment," said Jeff Lennon of Marriott Internet customer care via e-mail. "Therefore, we are extending this preference throughout all areas of our hotels."

Westin "“ a subsidiary of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. that includes Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridian and W Hotels "“ was the first hotel chain to convert to a 100 percent smoke-free environment in North America. There is no word of when or if the other brands of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Wordwide Inc. will follow in their sister hotel's footsteps.

"Our brand position is about renewal for our customers," said Russ Mitchell, director of sales and marketing for Westin Horton Plaza downtown. " It's about being able to give our guests an experience where they leave feeling better than when they arrived, and that means the mind, body and soul."

The Westin brand focuses on the guest experience and service, which was the impetus for the switch that is gaining popularity.

"We do feel that we are the leaders with innovative products and innovative concepts for our hotels," Mitchell said. "But we do recognize and applaud our competitors for taking note and wanting to create quality products and quality lifestyle."

This smoke-free trend may continue to grow, especially since the release of the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, which found that 79 percent of hotel guests prefer a smoke-free environment.

Westin agrees. According to their own study, 92 percent of guests request a nonsmoking room when traveling and do not smoke in any part of the hotel, including public areas.

"There have been isolated incidents when customers have elected not to stay here because we do not offer smoking rooms," Mitchell said. "But the interesting thing is that we are finding that most of our guests prefer to stay in a nonsmoking room because it smells clean when they arrive."

Both Westin and Marriott provide designated smoking areas outside of their hotels for their smoking guests and agree that the decision was made in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles following recent reports from the surgeon general that confirms secondhand smoke as a health threat.

Stephanie Hampton, senior director of corporate and marketing public relations for Marriott International, Inc., said the company expects all Marriott locations to be completely smoke-free by mid-October 2006.
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