Hotel Havens for Allergies and Asthma

in Managing Allergies, Travel & Dining
Published: February 5, 2014
The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Our ambassador, Amanda, swept us through the foyer to proudly point out the giant, but discreetly placed air purifier. “We keep this one set at 4 at all times, and the purifier in the other room at 2. Just let us know if you would like it changed.”

Gliding right by the full balcony and picturesque view, her next stop was the spacious bathroom to call attention to the Malin+Goetz allergy-friendly bath products and explain how the shower heads had dedicated filters to remove airway-irritating chlorine. The suite was obviously beautiful, but Amanda was trained to know the specific details of most interest to each guest, and allergy amenities were definitely high on our wish list.

No expense was spared in the $100 million renovations made at The Phoenician in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. It was easy to see why it was named “North America’s Leading Resort” at the 2013 World Travel Awards. But looking past the calming water features, immaculate cactus garden, sparkling pools, 27-hole championship golf course and $25 million art collection, what truly sets this resort apart is their acute attention to guests. And the heart of this courtesy can be found at their boutique lodging, where we stayed, The Canyon Suites.

The Canyon Suites room featured mite covers and filtered air.

This year, after being awarded a coveted Forbes Five-Star rating, Canyon Suites transformed two large guestrooms ($249- $899/night) and two suites ($349-$1,299/night) into hypoallergenic offerings.

“Our general manager has allergies,” says Denise Seomin, The Phoenician’s director of marketing and communications. “Adding hypoallergenic accommodations and full allergen- and gluten-free menus at our top restaurants was a natural progression in our amenities.”

Every six months, the carpets and upholstery in the hypoallergenic rooms are purified with organic products and disinfectants. Dedicated filters are placed in each air conditioning unit along with a cleansing element that continuously battles bacteria with all-natural lemongrass and thyme. To ensure our sniffle-free sleep, the mattress and down-free pillows were encased in dust-mite barrier covers, topped with exquisite Italian sheets.

Upon making our reservation at the Suites, our “ambassador” was appointed to identify any additional requirements that we might have and, above all, to make our upcoming stay memorable. The hospitality included options for gluten-free room service (with other allergen-free needs upon request) and a customized mini-bar based on sensitivities. When asked if they would even go to the store to pick up allergy-friendly food for newly arrived and famished guests, the answer was, “Of course!” Seomin stresses: “Our whole focus is on personalization and being able to tailor each experience to the needs and preferences of our guests.”

Hotels & Allergies: Questions to Frequently Ask

“For our new hypoallergenic program, we have a dedicated team that meets every morning to go through special requests and needs,” she explains. “Then we follow up with additional staff communication that outlines these items, so that all associates can be prepared.”

While this may sound like an exclusive couples retreat, The Phoenician has gone to great lengths to ensure that the property is also a family destination, with an expansive kids program and abundant outdoor activities, from croquet to an impressive 165-foot waterslide.

Fairmont Whistler, an elegant accommodations leader.

The Phoenician entered allergy and asthma tourism with a grand splash, but they certainly aren’t the only ones diving in. The Fairmont Hotels & Resorts broke new ground in 2011 by rolling out the Lifestyle Cuisine Plus program across the global chain’s onsite restaurants
and room service.

The specialized meal choices include gluten-free and vegan (dairy- and egg-free) menus, but the real “plus” is that it didn’t stop there. The program led to extensive allergy-safe food preparation training for chefs and kitchen staff, making Fairmont a leader in food accommodations. On the lodging side, Fairmont provides additional relief by, on request, placing ionizers in guest rooms and making up beds with hypoallergenic pillows and duvets.

As we experienced, the program delivers. Our allergic family traveled to The Fairmont Chateau Whistler in British Columbia to be greeted with amazing gluten-free and dairy-free sandwiches, down-free bedding, sensitive skin-care products and a room so fresh that it provided our best sleep of the year, even though it was high pollen season.

But none can compare to the Vancouver airport location, also in British Columbia. This exemplary hotel launched its own allergy-friendly program in 1999 – on a staff suggestion of how to improve the guest experience. It began with feather- and nut-free offerings, and grew from there, helping to influence what later became the brand-wide initiative.


Next: Off to Chicago, then Hawaii