Westin bans smoking
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. » A major hotel chain is going smoke-free next month and will add $200 to the bill of anyone who violates the policy, an executive said yesterday.
Westin Hotels & Resorts is banning smoking indoors and poolside at all 77 of its properties in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, said senior Vice President Sue Brush. Smokers will have to go to a designated outdoor area, she said.
Enica Thompson, spokeswoman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said Westin is the first major American chain to go smoke-free and predicted that "many of the other hotel chains will probably want to see how it works out for Westin" before following suit.
Eight Westin hotels, including the Westin Maui, were already smoke-free, and at least 5 percent of the rooms at the others had been set aside for nonsmokers, Brush said. But market research found that 92 percent of Westin's guests were requesting nonsmoking rooms, and some of those who couldn't get them were "quite upset," she said.
Brush said customers will be advised about the policy at check-in. If a guest violates the rule -- "when we can observe it by smelling it or whatever" -- a $200 fee will be added to the bill.
"It's really a cleaning fee," she said. The 2,400 smoking rooms in the chain are undergoing deep cleaning and air purifying before the Jan. 1 changeover, "and once you smoke in there you've violated that entire environment and we have to clean it all over again."
The smoking ban will apply to hallways, lobbies, and restaurants, except for the eight restaurants that are run by outside companies and not under Westin's control, Brush said. "They will be invited to participate," she added.
The policy will not extend to Westin's overseas hotels or to other chains, such as Sheraton, that are under the same parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. Westin was the brand that "had the least amount of smokers to begin with," Brush said.
She said there might be a dip in business at the beginning of the year as smokers go elsewhere, but Westin expects to quickly replace that business with travelers favoring the new policy.
"I don't think it will be a net loss," she said. "It should be a net gain."
Jacque Petterson of San Antonio, who maintains an Internet list of smoke-free hotels in the United States, said: "This is just wonderful. So often you go to a place and the nonsmoking rooms are all taken or the smoking rooms and the nonsmoking rooms are mixed up and the smoke spreads. You're giving people a place to go without having to worry."
Westin Maui 'ahead of the curve' on ban
KAANAPALI, Maui » The Westin Maui Resort in Kaanapali began a smoke-free policy in its 758 hotel rooms last year, about the same time Maui County expanded its smoking ban to public areas such as lobbies in addition to restaurants, said the hotel's general manager Craig Anderson.
"We were a little bit ahead of the curve on this one," he said.
Anderson said the reaction of guests has been positive and hotel employees have a designated smoking area and been offered smoking cessation classes to help quite a few quit smoking.
Anderson said starting next year the hotel will be expanding the smoking ban to pool deck areas.
He said one of the reasons for the ban is the cost of cleaning a room of smoke -- about $150 to $200.
"The smoke smell lingers," he said.
Anderson said a smoke-free policy has been in force at its nearby sister resort Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas since it opened about three years ago.
The no-smoking policy drew mixed reviews from several visitors at the Westin Maui Resort yesterday.
Chuck Conway, a frequent visitor to Maui, said he thought the ban was good and would improve business.
Conway said in his resort community at Tahoe, Calif., a similar smoking ban has made the environment cleaner, and restaurants have found it actually increases food sales.
San Francisco residents Dale Lohman and Pam Armstrong said they also support a ban. They said they have stayed in hotel rooms where smoking wasn't allowed but there was a smoking smell.
California visitor Cynetra Verona, a smoker, said she didn't think an outright ban was a good idea.
"They should have smoking rooms and designated areas," Verona said.
Ron Heckethorn, a smoker, and his 18-year-old daughter Britnie were at odds with each other.
Heckethorn, a San Diego resident, said he felt the hotel should provide smoking rooms.
"I think it's ridiculous," he said. "I think people should have choices."
Britnie Heckethorn said smoking is bad for the condition of the hotel rooms.
"It ruins the wallpaper, and it makes the room stink," she said.
But she said she thinks hotel guests ought to be able to smoke on the patio.