Westin going smoke-free

Grand Cayman’s Westin Casuarina Resort will practice a new year’s resolution of no smoking for 2006 and beyond.

Following a grace period in January to make preparations, as of 1 February the hotel will be totally non-smoking in all buildings, including all guest rooms and public areas indoors.

‘It’s something we’re very proud of,’ said Racquel Miller, Executive Office Co-ordinator at Grand Cayman’s Westin Casuarina Resort.

Currently about 24 per cent of rooms are smoking-permitted at the resort (84 smoking rooms out of 343 guest rooms)

The new move is part of a hotel chain brand wide smoke-free policy in Westin Hotels and Resorts in the US, Canada and the Caribbean, which will make them 100 per cent smoke free.

‘Westin Hotels & Resorts is dedicated to providing a clean, comfortable and relaxing environment for its guests and the brand’s new policy is a result of customer data and a clear demand from guests for a healthy, smoke-free hotel experience,’ said a press release from the hotel chain.

In line with the new move, the current smoking rooms will undergo an extensive cleaning process. This includes replacing all soft goods, deep cleaning and treating all hard surfaces, walls and carpets to eliminate allergens, replacing air filters and deep cleaning all air conditioning units.

Ms Miller at Grand Cayman’s Westin Casuarina Resort explained that there will be outdoor smoking areas; those who wish to smoke will simply have to take that extra step to get there.

Potential guests are being made aware of the new policy on the hotel’s website, and at check-in.

Westin consumer data shows that 92 per cent of its guests request a non-smoking room when travelling and do not smoke in any part of the hotel, including public areas, said the press release. In addition, Westin conducted a smoke-free poll that shows the majority of consumers who travel prefer a smoke-free environment.

‘The poll found that 86 per cent agree that creating a non-smoking environment is an important first step in creating a healthier environment and 80 per cent prefer when restaurants and other indoor public spaces are free of cigarette and cigar smoke. In addition, Westin has eight hotels in its portfolio that have a smoke-free policy in place, which has resulted in overwhelming positive feedback from guests,’ the release said.

Resorts in Grand Cayman, which have previously said no to smoking include The Reef Resort and Comfort Suites.

Director The Reef Resort Tom McCallum said he applauds The Westin for its decision. ‘I believe that the great majority of tourist customers do not smoke, in fact research done on this shows that about 90 per cent of the tourist market is non-smoking,’ he said.

The interior of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is entirely non-smoking, but there is a smoking/cigar outdoor terrace overlooking the waterways.

Of the Hyatt Hotel’s current inventory of 53 beach suites, five of these are smoking. Smoking is permitted in its bars and restaurants.

The Marriott Beach Resort has a no smoking policy in its indoor public places, including indoor restaurants and bar, but outside smoking is permitted. There is a small section of guest rooms where smoking is permitted also.

Meanwhile, The Westin Casuarina Resort reports that business is strong. Following on from last weekend’s Jazz Fest when it had 400 room nights booked from visitors here for the event, this week it is renting more than 200 rooms for a captive insurance conference, Cayman Captive Forum 2005.

The forum lasts from 6 to 8 December and includes a tradeshow taking place in a steel structure in the hotel’s parking lot, along with various sessions and meetings in the resort’s meeting rooms and ballrooms.

The hotel’s General Manager Dan Szydlowski, reports that the week between Christmas and New Year is fully booked while bookings are looking heavy for the first four months of 2006, a big part of which is due to corporate incentive group bookings.

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