Hotels in North America are increasingly going smoke-free, but hotels in Europe and Asia often seem as slow as late-night room service when it comes to kicking the tobacco habit.
That is beginning to change, thanks to tough national and local smoking laws overseas; hotels operators' desire to cut the costs of eliminating smells, stains and burns from their properties; and hoteliers' desires to please guests who demand smoke-free environments.
Even in France, where inhaling languorously in cafes and le hotel has long been a national pastime, 78% of French hotel guests recently told pollsters they prefer non-smoking rooms.
Finding European and Asian hotels that restrict, or even ban, smoking is easier than ever before for travelers willing to put in the time to research their options. Usually, that boils down to spending some time on the Internet, surfing the Web sites of tourist boards, hotel chains, online outlets like Hotels.com, Expedia and Freshstay.com, and checking out the hotels section of sites such as Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.As always with the Web, there is plenty of information out there, but reading the fine print is essential. Details and nuances of smoking policies can differ widely, with one hotel banning smoking in public areas like meeting rooms and the lobby, but allowing guests to puff away in their rooms; to another's policy of setting aside some floors as nonsmoking, but permitting smoking on other floors.
In such cases, adjoining floors with shared ventilation systems are all de facto smoking floors.
The push to go non-smoking has been led by Marriott(MAR) which proclaimed 400,000 rooms in North America and the Caribbean region smoke-free in 2006, and by Starwood Hotels & Resorts'(HOT) Westin brand, which made 77 of its North American and Caribbean hotels smoke-free the same year; that policy has more recently been extended to Westin hotels in Ireland and Scotland.