Last week, I was at the W Austin, a very expensive, very chic hotel. The W, including many other hotels, are doing something extremely inconsiderate, that not only ruins that stay, but an entire trip.
After spending the night, I woke up with a horrible rash and breathing difficulties. I found out that the hotel sprays the room after cleaning with a perfume, one that can even be purchased. I am extremely allergic to fragrances. Caress and Steinemann (2009) found that 30.5% of the US population has a fragrance intolerance. Luxury hotels, or really any hotel, should not be spraying perfumes into a room when such a high percentage of the popular has fragrance sensitivities, and a culture of no-perfume settings is immerging (i.e. no-fragrance workplaces). This condition is not rare or unknown, and hotels should be responding accordingly.
With this rash, my entire face and body was covered in severe dermatitis, and extremely itchy hives. It caused breathing difficulties, which resulted in a need for medical intervention. This rash has lasted for days, and has “ruined” my trip. All so the hotel room would smell a little more pleasant.
I understand that my reaction is abnormal. I am highly sensitive to fragrances. However, with such a high percentage of the population experiencing some sort of reaction to fragrances, I don’t understand how spraying it in a hotel room is worthwhile. When you literally roll in the perfume overnight, a mild sensitivity may turn into a substantial reaction.
There is no way to opt-out of the fragrance on the SPG website when making your booking, nor is there a conspicuous warning that perfumes are used. Had I known, I would have called the property to try and opt-out.
So, what should be done? Hotels should never be using sprayed perfumes in their hotel rooms (I’d advocate that this be extended to bath products, laundry detergents, etc., but I’m happy to start this “campaign” with small goals). If that hotel absolutely cannot do-away with perfumes, they should provide a clear and conspicuous warning to guests that perfumes are used, and provide a complimentary opt-out (I’ve seen some hotels offer a surcharge for hypoallergenic rooms).
Remember that although a perfume can smell pleasant, for many people (30.5%!), that smell hurts others.