Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Good Clean Place To Sleep

This is very good news:

Westin Hotels & Resorts announced yesterday that, as of January, it will become the first hotel chain to introduce a chain-wide smoke-free policy. The change will apply to the company's 77 hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, including the Westin Convention Center, Downtown.

In preparation for the new policy, 2,400 smoking rooms will undergo an extensive cleaning and all Westin hotels and resorts will designate an outdoor area for guests who smoke. More than 90 percent of Westin guests request a nonsmoking room when traveling and do not smoke in any part of the hotel, including public areas, the company said.

I like it. There have been times when I have sought lodging and requested a non-smoking room only to find that all of the non-smoking rooms were taken. I had to sleep in a smoking room, which was nasty, because the room stunk to high heaven, as if the previous, smoking guest had never left. That extensive cleaning is going to be an expensive cleaning. The ratio of smoking rooms to non-smoking always did seem a little high; now it won't be a problem in at least one chain of hotels. Now, if only I could afford to stay in a Westin property.

Hey, it looks like I'm not the only one with the above concerns, according to the GM of the local Westin:

"One of the largest complaints we get is when all the nonsmoking rooms are filled," said Mr. Kane, who predicted the change will boost business for the chain.

"We think the preference of the traveling public is to have a fresh-smelling room," he said. "Even smokers sometimes request a nonsmoking room."

Okay. Quiz time: Was the Westin's decision to eliminate smoking in rooms (A) the result of coercion by a government entity; or (B) a company policy change based on customer feedback?

The answer, of course, is (B). I like being able to go places without having to put up with oppressive smoke, but I don't want government involved in it. Given the choice between patronizing a smoke-free establishment and one that permits smoking on the premises, I prefer the former to the latter. The Westin GM understands this:

The smoking ban also will apply to two in-house restaurants at the Westin Convention Center, but not necessarily The Original Fish Market, which leases space from the hotel. "It's their decision," said Mr. Kane.
Now if only customer feedback at other businesses could convince everyone else to follow suit.

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