Hotel Tech-in is our regular feature that takes a closer look at emerging technology in the hospitality industry.
Many things in a hotel room can trigger allergies. From heating and cooling systems to older mattresses, even well-cleaned rooms play host to irritants like yeast, fungus, mold spores, bacteria and viruses that can spur reactions among sensitive travelers.
Pure Wellness launched to help travelers breathe more easily. The Dallas- and Buffalo, New York-based company offers cleaning technology that converts hotel rooms into Pure Rooms, which have undergone rigorous sanitation and air-filtration processes to ensure they are as allergy-friendly as possible.
Pure Rooms are now in 200 hotels nationwide, and in hotel brands under Hilton, Marriott, IHG Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham. Haley Payne, Pure Wellness’ head of commercial, said that number is growing.
And while allergy sufferers have known to seek out the company’s hypoallergenic rooms for some time — Pure Wellness launched in 2006 — its technology has gained traction among a new set of travelers recently: wellness enthusiasts.
“When we first started this program, it was 100% centered around allergies and asthma,” said Payne, in an interview with Hotel Dive. Now, even guests without allergies or respiratory issues are requesting the offering.
Those changing demands are fueling Pure Wellness’s push into the luxury segment.
Guests who need sanitized rooms…
Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies annually.
The Pure Room process includes disinfecting and maintaining a sanitized air-handling unit, cleaning soft surfaces with a proprietary solution and a one-time “ozone shock treatment” that removes lingering odors. Pure Rooms also apply a barrier to all surfaces that makes it difficult for bacteria to grow, install a medical-grade air purifier and set up allergy-friendly bed encasements.
The result, according to Pure Wellness, is a removal of 98% of the room’s bacteria.
Traditionally, those features have been implemented predominantly in midscale to full-service corporate hotels, due mainly to those being the majority of properties operated by the management companies Pure Wellness has partnered with. Now, however, “we’re also trying to move into the luxury market,” Payne said, noting that Pure Rooms will enter their first Four Seasons soon.
…and guests who want them
Though the core sanitation process is the same no matter the hotel, luxury hotels are more likely to cater to wellness-oriented travelers. At some luxury properties, for example, hotel management makes it “more of a wellness environment, as opposed to a hypoallergenic [one].” Payne pointed to a Ritz-Carlton hotel that added Peloton bikes to its Pure Rooms, for example.
“As long as they follow our steps [...], then if they want to enhance the room a little bit with yoga equipment or healthy snacks or things like that, then they can do that as well,” Payne said.
A major trend in hospitality, wellness travel has fueled expansions of wellness-focused hotels like Canyon Ranch and IHG Hotels & Resorts’ Even brand, as well as pushed other hotels to ramp up their wellness offerings.
Within the realm of wellness, sleep tourism has risen in popularity, with Hilton predicting “rest and relaxation” will be the top priority for travelers in 2024. And air quality and good sleep are linked — according to a University of Washington study, those who live in high-pollution areas are 60% more likely to suffer from poor sleep than people who live in places with cleaner air.
Payne, who does not suffer from allergies or asthma, said she’s noticed the effect of clean air on her own sleep when staying in Pure Rooms.
“If you can remove particulates out of the air, what's left is just the fresh air,” she said. “So that just allows your body to rest better and sleep better, and when you wake up, you feel more refreshed.”
However, wellness trends have occurred in tandem with another that’s anathema for allergy sufferers: the rise of pet-friendly hotels. Payne says this is a concern for guests with allergies.
“This is a room where we really discourage pets as much as possible so that the guests that are allergic to pet dander can stay in this room and be okay,” she said.
In August, Pure Wellness added 70 new properties to its portfolio through a partnership with hotel management firm Atrium Hospitality. “We’re growing very fast,” Payne said.
Pure Wellness will add Pure Rooms, which hoteliers can often charge more for per night than their other rooms, to each of the 70 hotels. Payne told Hotel Dive that Pure Wellness is about halfway through installing Pure Rooms in the properties and expects to finish the installations in the first quarter of 2024.