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How to Better Accommodate Travelers with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

NATIONAL REPORT—Prior to one of her recent trips, Judy Smith* called the motel where she was going to be staying and requested that no chemicals, air fresheners or room deodorizers be used in her room. Unfortunately, housekeeping only got the message about not using cleaning chemicals and not the part about not using air fresheners or room deodorizers. Upon entering her $110 room, Judy said a flowery fragrance of artificially scented products hit her immediately and her throat began to close. “I became hoarse and had to leave the room, sit outside for an hour or longer while my own room air purifier worked,” Smith said, adding that the bathroom was truly the only safe place for her in her guestroom. Like millions of other travelers, Smith suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). MCS involves an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), perfumes, pesticides, petrol, diesel, smoke, petrochemicals in general and often encompasses problems with regard to mold, pollen, dust mites, and pet fur and dander.

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publisher's point of view
The Challenge of Accommodating Travelers with MCS

In doing research for a feature article on multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) this past week, I spoke with two experts, each of whom expressed significant concerns about being quoted in Green Lodging News. Talking about products with chemicals that trigger health problems is apparently risky business. Chemical companies, eager to protect their own interests, have large legal teams and must watch the Internet closely. My goal in my research is to identify what hoteliers are doing wrong that causes issues for folks with MCS, and what they can do better to make their properties safer havens. Briefly, MCS involves severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, “chemicals” in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, dust mites, and pet fur and pet dander.

guest column
Your Hotel is Energy Efficient. Now What?

Operating around the clock, whether there are only two guests or 200, hotels consume tremendous amounts of energy. For a full service hotel in the United States energy costs are usually between 4 and 6 percent of revenue. International properties, historic hotels and luxury resorts can see energy costs hit 10 percent or more—so it’s not surprising that sustainability efforts in the hospitality industry are usually focused on energy efficiency measures first. Leading hospitality brands and smaller boutique hotels are both pioneering the charge to go green, incorporating conservation and efficiency measures into all operations. Nearly all hotel brands, from Hyatt to Wyndham to Hilton to local boutique hotels, are incorporating sustainability objectives. Guests are now accustomed to seeing those reminders about reusing towels—and they’re listening to them. Hotels will always require energy to provide great service and amenities.

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green hotel focus
Radisson Hotel New Rochelle Investing Almost $2 Million in Energy Efficiency

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.—The Radisson Hotel New Rochelle is undergoing almost $2 million in updates to improve the energy efficiency of the 10-story, 129-room property. According to Colby Brock, General Manager of the hotel, the first phase of the renovation included replacing all PTAC units with new, more energy efficient versions with digital controls. The second and most expensive part of the renovation—one costing about a million dollars—was the replacement of the boiler plant with one with digital controls. That upgrade is expected to reduce energy costs by $250,000 a year, gas consumption by more than 35 percent, and emissions by 750 tons annually. “The direct digital control system allows us to have more zones, or more points of control, which enables us to adjust specific areas of the property,” Brock says.

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personnel profile
Stefan Mühle Appointed General Manager of Oak Brook Hills Resort in Illinois

OAK BROOK, ILL.—Oak Brook Hills Resort announces the appointment of Stefan Mühle as General Manager. Bringing over 25 years of hospitality experience to the property, 12 of those with Portfolio Hotels & Resorts, Mühle oversees all operations at the renowned IACC Certified convention resort soon to become a member of the Hilton brand this summer. The resort features 386 guestroom including 38 suites, 42,500 square feet of meetings space, and the award-winning Willow Crest Golf Club, a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, preserving and enhancing wildlife habitat and protecting resources. “Seasoned leaders such as Stefan have the ability to bring heart and soul into both boutique and large-scale hotel properties,” Portfolio Hotels & Resorts COO Graham Hersham says.

blog post
New York Resort Builds on ‘Make a Green Choice’ Idea
14 hours ago

I have written about Starwood’s Make a Green Choice program several times in the past. In case you are not familiar with it, it allows a guest to opt out of housekeeping entirely for up to three days in a row. Guests are rewarded for their participation with a $5 voucher to use at a Starwood restaurant or Starwood Preferred Guest points (500 points, or 250 if a select-service hotel). Between the program’s launch in 2009 and the end of 2012, it had resulted in the saving of 153 million gallons of water, 662,000 kilowatts of electricity, 871,000 therms of natural gas, and 190,000 gallons of cleaning supplies. Interestingly, at least one property has taken the Make a Green Choice idea and made it an opportunity to give back to the local community.

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