NATIONAL REPORT—While there are many aspects to wellness, from eating well and being physically active, to being in touch with the body, mind and spirit, one may be difficult to control—the environment you are in and the air that you breathe.
Hotels around the country are now trying the change that with the addition of Pure Wellness Rooms for guests. The program uses a comprehensive process to make sure that a room is free of allergens, bacteria and mold for a better breathing environment, which can lead to better sleep.
One guest at the Courtyard Boston Downtown, which has 17 such rooms, experienced a difference when he stayed in one of them. “I recently stayed at a major Boston hotel chain, and randomly received a Pure-certified room,” he said in a letter to the company. “I’m an allergy sufferer, but I’ve never worried too much about it, just tolerating morning congestion and coughing and so forth. Never in a million years would I have believed the difference that room treatment makes until personally experiencing it… I can tell you, without any exaggeration, that those were two life-changing nights… I needed only five hours per night in such freedom from congestion, sniffling, coughing, snoring, you name it—that I felt totally refreshed, like I’d taken a two-week vacation in some sunny, beach place. My performance the next day reflected it.”
Dan Kakabeeke, general manager of the hotel, said that the rooms were added to offer another option for guests. “Including rooms with such qualities as reducing allergens in the environment is in keeping with our desire to ensure that our guests are re-energized, giving them that extra edge,” he said.
He said that the feedback he has heard most from guests is that their quality of sleep has greatly improved. “It always comes back to the sleep quality,” he said.
Brian Brault, Pure’s CEO, said that typically a hotel will convert anywhere from 5-10% of its rooms to the system. It is ideal if they are all in the same area of the hotel. “If a floor or half a floor is in that 5-10% of that inventory range, we like to have a physical cutoff; that is better for marketing, better for the front desk and for the team to compartmentalize those rooms,” he said.
Hotels charge guests a premium for the rooms—on average, $22 per night.
When a property decides to add the Pure program for a block of its rooms, a comprehensive process is put in place to clean and purify the space.
“Our technical team comes in and handles all of the operational aspects of converting that room and maintaining that room to Pure standards,” said Brault. “A Pure relationship management team comes in and really holds the hand of the hotel leading up to the installation. We do training for basically the whole staff. We focus primarily on the front desk, the leadership team, the management team and the sales team. We also train engineering and housekeeping… We like them to know what is going on in their rooms.”
The air-handling system is the first area of the room to undergo the purification process. “Since all of the air that services a room goes through that system, it is very important for our rooms that those are maintained, are very clean and disinfected,” he said. “We disinfect all of the mechanical parts of the air-handling system that services the room… What we do is make sure that it is free of all bacteria and any kind of mold and mildew.”
A special treatment is used on the coils so that they wick away moisture. If condensation forms on the coils, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and mildew. “Once we put a treatment on the coils, we put an enzyme tablet in the drip pan so that bacteria can’t build up in the system,” said Brault.
After that, all of the soft surfaces in the room are deep cleaned and sanitized, and all of the hard surfaces are disinfected. “Once that is all done, we seal the room and shock it with a very high concentration of ozone,” he said. “We seal the vents so that no ozone can go from one room to another, and we seal the door. We want to contain it in the room. What that is designed to do is kill any remaining living organisms that are in the room. Once that is done, the room is in a very sanitary state.”
Once the deep clean has taken place, the program moves into the prevention of any other contaminants with the application of Pure Shield, a bacterial static barrier. “It bonds on a molecular level with everything in the room—ceiling, walls, lampshade, desktops, mattress, down to the individual fibers on the carpet,” said Brault. “If you look under a microscope, it looks like a cactus or barbed wire. As contaminants in peoples’ hands or feet, or in the air, try to adhere to a surface to get to a food source, they can’t adhere to it, so they starve. More importantly, that molecular structure punctures the membrane of a bacterial cell and mechanically kills it. In essence, the shield, which lasts a little more than two years, makes it nearly impossible for contaminants like allergens, bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew spores to survive.”
A gel cartridge containing tea tree oil—an essential oil with natural anti-microbial and disinfectant qualities—is installed in the air-handling system.
After that, a medical-grade air purifier is installed in the room. “The air is exposed to four different levels of filtration,” he said. “The first is a pre-filter, which filters out dust; the second is a 2.5-lb carbon bank, which filters out vapors and odors; the third is a HEPA filter, which filters down to the smallest particulate; the fourth is an electronic field that surrounds that HEPA filter. As air moves through the system, it is exposed to this electronic field, which kill 98-100% of all viruses, bacteria, mold and mildew spores that go through the system.”
The mattress is then placed in a special hypoallergenic encasement, which is designed to protect the guest against dust mite-related allergen triggers. “We then install feather-free, dust-mite-proof pillows and a feather-free blanket or duvet insert,” said Brault.
Finally, an alkaline chlorine filter is installed in the shower so chlorine and harsh water deposits are removed. “After that, the room is a feather–free environment that allows you to breathe better and easier. This helps you sleep better, which, in turn, helps you be your best the next day,” he said. HB