I just sent this to Marriott Customer Service and a large news organization.
Dear Marriott Hotels,
I’m writing requesting a refund for the time I was a guest at one of your facilities. Due to no fault of my own, I was ill the entire time I was there because of the scent-branding your corporation is doing.
I stayed at the Naperville Illinois location for a working conference from Thursday, April 28th and checked out Sunday, May 1st. Immediately upon walking into the lobby, I was hit with an extremely strong perfume-like aroma. I checked in and was told the hotel is Eco-Friendly and given instruction regarding the lights and heating/cooling system in my room. I didn’t mention any aroma at this point because I thought it might have come from passing a guest with too liberal perfume.
But no, once in my room, I realized the aroma was something within the hotel and even though it wasn’t as strong in my room, I could still smell it. While in my room, I called housekeeping and asked for the feather pillows to be removed and replaced because of allergies. They brought me the hardest foam pillows I’ve ever used and simply told me to use the closet blanket instead of the feather comforter.
I went to the dining area which is part of the lobby/bar/lounge/restaurant and had dinner alone while I worked. I was seated in the booth that is furthest from the bar. As I worked, I could smell the perfume, which got a lot stronger every time someone walked past my table. By the time my dinner came, I was woozy, light-headed, my eyes were burning and watering, and I had a headache. None of which I had upon arrival at the Marriott.
After dinner, I went to the front desk where two employees greeted me. I asked if the hotel pumps air freshener through the heating/cooling system and told them whatever it was making me ill – woozy and feeling highly allergic to it. I mentioned I had just had all my feather pillows removed and asked if they could turn down the air scent.
One of the employees began telling me how all Marriott Hotels have a signature scent to help with branding and it’s not something they can turn off. He said the used air freshener machines in the lobby only. The other employee then told me that he, too, gets ill from the scent and several employees have complained and don’t like it either. (In retrospect, I wish I would’ve directed that young man to OSHA because what I have discovered in a short amount of research time is appalling.) I was told they would talk to a manager about turning it down.
When my conference began on Friday, several conference attendees commented on the effects they were experiencing due to the strong perfume scent floating around the hotel. Headaches, raw throat, watery eyes, burning eyes, light-headedness, etc. Many of us actually had to cover our noses while walking through the lobby and while sitting in the lobby restaurant and lounge area. This occurred all through Saturday and Sunday as well.
Sunday morning, while I was walking in the hallway that leads from the Grand Ballroom to the restaurant/bar area (where I had sat on Thursday for dinner), I noticed a black floor stand with a black square framed box on top of it against the wall. Inside the square frame was the Scent Unit, blasting full on people-sickening air freshener. I took the liberty of unplugging it. I wished I had noticed it sooner, along with the one placed behind a plant on a table at the main entrance, because I would’ve unplugged that one too.
It seems like such an easy fix but unfortunately, my complaint and the air quality others suffer through are less important than branding through smell.
I’d like to point out that in the very short amount time I spent researching, I came across complaint after complaint regarding people leaving your hotels due to getting sick, having asthma attacks, migraines, allergic reactions, etc. these complaints date back 2-3 years so this is a recurring problem you are aware of and do nothing about.
I’d also like to point out the irony of touting your Eco-friendly environment when you are using chemicals to poison the air and your guests. The ingredients in the Belle Fragrances, suppliers of your ScentAir fan units, include formaldehyde and a plethora of other toxic chemicals.
According to your own website, your core value is to Put People First as stated on your 2015 Health, Safety and Well Being report. From my experience, it seems you are putting scent branding first since you have been aware of this problem and complaint for years.
I see your 2015 Goals/Targets mention Providing a safe and healthy environment for associates and guests and I hope you begin to take this more seriously. Air quality has a huge impact on the health of many people. Even people who never experienced aroma sensitivity were experiencing health affects during my stay.
Another Goal/Target you’ve listed is Raising awareness of potential hazards for associates and guests and the ScentAir system is not just a potential hazard, it IS a hazard and needs to go.
Regarding your Goals/Targets, I say you’re in the right direction but please refer back to Put People First and avoid using products that make us sick. These products also have a negative impact on the environment through waste and water contamination.
I’ve read complaints from all over the World regarding “scent branding” in hotels and urge Marriott and other corporations to make their guests aware of the use of these products before a reservation is made. From now on, I will ask upon making a reservation and avoid staying anywhere that purposefully poisons indoor air.
Scents and Senseless Toxins article - https://www.prlog.org/11330184-scents-and-senseless-air-toxins-in-the-orleans-and-other-las-vegas-hotels.html
Toxic Air Fresheners - http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/toxic-air-fresheners.html
Marriott Environmental Responsibly links. To this I say you’re in the right direction but please refer back to Put People First and avoid using products that make us sick. These products also have a negative impact on the environment through waste and water contamination. http://www.marriott.com/corporate-social-responsibility/corporate-environmental-responsibility.mi
Marriott 2014 – https://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/thread/17315
2015 Update On Health, Safety and Well Being – http://www.marriott.com/Multimedia/PDF/CorporateResponsibility/2015_Reports/2015_HealthSafetyandWellbeing.pdf
The foundation of Marriott International’s success lies in our core value to Put People
“Take care of your associates and they’ll take care of your customers and the customers
will come back.”
When our associates feel valued, respected and trusted, they are better able to take care of themselves, our customers and our communities. We believe the health, safety and wellbeing of our associates and guests is critical to our success and the vitality of our local communities. We have established formal programs to help drive our efforts in each of these areas.
Taking care of our guests and associates is a priority for Marriott. Our goals include:
Please note I have attached photos of the ScentAir machine located literally 6 to 8 feet from where I had been sitting on Thursday during my dinner. (photos not shown).
Recently I stayed at the Hong Kong Marriott Sky City and they had a strong scent in the lobby that was in the restaurant too. I complained and asked if others had complained and was told yes, many. The front desk person commented that they have to breathe it for hours at a time. When will Marriott get the message. People are unhappy. I would be willing to bet that those who are not bothered would side with us just knowing that people are getting sick. Marriott - Wake up and turn them off please.
About 1/3 of the population are sensitive to scents many of whom get really ill if present. There are probably many like you who don't notice. If that is the case, why not do away with them. I wonder just how many notice and really like it and stay at a Marriott because of the scents as opposed to how many stay away because of them?
You're lucky, Jerryl. But even though you haven't noticed, it's still getting into your system through inhalation. I don't like breathing formaldehyde.Just seems so ironic for an Eco-friendly corporation to use something that makes people ill and is bad for the environment. I think Eco-friendly simply saves them a little money on their electric bills and less spent on trash liners (ew, by the way!). However they've still using plastic cups at water stands during conferences of 1,000 people and plastic sandwich containers.
So the Eco-friendly is a spiel for offering less.
While I was in the restaurant, I could actually taste the air freshener, it was so strong. It took me 2 1/2 days to realized the black box with the air machine was 6-8 feet away from where I had been eating.
Proximity to food and beverages should be a concern since these air fresheners contain chemicals like formaldehyde.
Hmmm. I stay close to 200 nights a year and rarely, if ever have smelled this in a Marriott branded property. I guess my concern would be (in addition to any health effects) what are they trying to cover up? The Renaissance Dallas has a smell throughout but it is the smoke from the wood grill in the lobby. It is all natural and awesome!
The one place I do notice a smell is Hertz rental cars. Whatever they seem to spray almost smells like smoke to the point that I have been concerned about being accused of smoking in the car.
The May 9th edition of USA Today, which was just left in front of my door at the Wentworth By The Sea Marriott in Portsmouth, NH, has an article in the Money section entitled "Hotels Hope Guests Follow Their Noses". Very timely given our discussion here. If you are interested you should sniff it out! By the way, I asked and was told that Wentworth By The Sea does not use artificial scents anywhere in the hotel. If you are ever traveling through NH, consider spending one or more evenings at this property. It is a true gem!