Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Allergen-free hotel rooms – a home away from home for those with allergies

Hotels can offer much more than just a
nice clean room: Better air quality.
Indoor air quality is important – and hotel chains are catching on.

At a time when hotels promise everything from custom ice-cream room service to complete wedding proposal preparations, it's no surprise that they're also offering hypoallergenic rooms.

According to an article in the Tribune Newspapers, the Hyatt, Wyndham, Intercontinental, Fairmont and Mandarin hotel chains — among others — are experimenting with everything from small tweaks in bedding and air-purification systems to complete room remodels to help allergy sufferers have a symptom-free stay.

In hypoallergenic rooms in the Hyatt, the air is circulated up to five times an hour in these rooms, the mattresses and pillows are encased in a protective hypoallergenic covering, and the carpet and upholstery are cleaned and protected with Pure Clean and Pure Shield anti-allergen products, said Lori Alexander, spokeswoman for Hyatt.

Guests who want to stay in Hyatt's hypoallergenic rooms are charged $20 to $30 extra per night, depending on the hotel's location.

Hotel rooms considered problematic places

For those with allergies, a hotel room can trigger a swarm of reactions, said Philip Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University.

The hotel's mattress, pillow, rug, drapery and upholstered furniture can all easily collect dust, mites and bodily secretions — all of which are the bane of allergy sufferers, Tierno said.

"Unless a hotel has impervious covers on their mattresses and pillows, they're contributing to allergies and exacerbating them," Tierno said. "Even if you don't have allergies now, you can develop them over time. You don't need to be breathing in this garbage from mattresses and pillows."

But before someone with allergies pays extra for a hypoallergenic room, they should see exactly what the hotels are offering, said Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and allergist with the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic.

Filtering the air and circulating it frequently is helpful, as is covering the mattresses with mite-proof allergenic casing.

"I have patients who complain about the reactions they get from sleeping in some hotel rooms, so for some people with allergies, it may be worth it to pay the premium to sleep in a room that's prepared that way," Fineman said. "This might be a benefit for certain patients."

Source: Danielle Braff, Special to Tribune Newspapers
Editor’s note: The original article has been edited for length.

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