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Hypoallergenic Hotel Rooms Are Nothing To Sneeze At

By Kathy Hubbard
The sign on the hotel states, “This is a hypoallergenic facility, please confine your pets to the dog run area,” or words to that effect. Posted on the door is a sign that says, “No pets allowed.” We were visiting Creston, B.C. and were standing outside the Ramada there.
Hypoallergenic hotel rooms are not all that new. An article by Michelle Higgins published in The New York Times dated March 25, 2007 extolls the virtues of the extraordinary lengths hotels are now going through to cut down on bacteria, pollen, dust, dust mites and other possible irritants.
Good news for the allergy and asthma sufferers? You bet. And, several national chains are jumping on the bandwagon. Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Sheraton and Fairmont are also on board with the Wyndham properties that owns Ramada.
“The best part for us was that it was a clean hypoallergenic hotel (no pets, no smoking and feather free bedding), catering to those of us who are allergic to pets, feathers and smoke,” wrote a woman named Kim on TripAdvisor.
Another named Michelle wrote, “My spouse suffers from extremely bad allergies and asthma, pet dander is one major trigger of an asthmatic attack … Also, the rooms are not sprayed with harsh chemical sprays … Even in the breakfast station they note that the waffles contain eggs for those that have egg allergies. Also there are two separate toasters with a good amount of distance between them for those that have gluten allergies.”
I’m not getting paid by Ramada; I just wanted to see what people said about staying in a hypoallergenic hotel room. The downside was the person who wrote that they were traveling with a service animal and were turned away. I suppose the dog run is for people who don’t mind leaving their pets in their cars overnight.
Some hotels aren’t going so far as to purify the whole hotel. Many make several rooms available, and sometimes they charge a premium to stay in them.
“Creating a hypoallergenic hotel room (handled in many hotels by a company called PURE Solutions) is no small task,” an article in Consumer Reports says. “It involves, for example, installing a powerful air purifier (listed as a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration); scrubbing carpeting and upholstery with a solution designed to remove imperceptible dirt, bacteria, and mold; treating surfaces with an antibacterial shield; and wrapping mattresses and pillows in cases fine enough to block the passage of dust mites.”
PURE’s website states that their “7-step purification process treats every surface, including the air, removing up to 99 percent of pollutants so you can breathe easy and rest peacefully.”
Another company called Environmental Technology Solutions renovates hotel rooms by replacing carpeting with hard surface flooring and changing drapes to wooden blinds. From the all-cotton linens to the special porous wallpaper, they’re also considering the allergen-sensitive hotel guest. Higgins’ article states that there is no standard for what qualifies a room as hypoallergenic. “Allergy experts say most of the methods the hotel rooms are using, like the special pillow covers and rug removal, are in line with what might be recommended to parents of an asthmatic child.
“But some, like removing feather pillows or using tea tree oil, said Robert G. Hamilton, an allergy specialist and professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will have ‘little impact in addressing the allergen issue.’”
If you’re interested in more information about hypoallergenic hotel rooms, there’s a website www.allerpassmd.com that rates hotels by three categories, indoor allergens (dust mites, animal dander, mold spores); outdoor allergens (pollens, molds); and contactants (fragrances, antibacterials and preservatives).
Traveling for allergy and asthma sufferers can be challenging enough without worrying about what’s under that hotel room bedding. And, for those of us who don’t suffer from allergies, but are squeamish about the “ick factor” regarding what critters are lurking in public accommodations, these ultra-clean rooms aren’t to be sneezed at.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She
can be reached at 264-4029 or kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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