The Sustainability Solution for the Travel Industry: Self-Cleaning Hotel Rooms!

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

The global travel industry, notably the hotel and hospitality sector, has long been struggling with sustainability.

This is not necessarily the industry’s fault. Hotels, resorts and conference centers face this fundamental challenge: whether we travel for business or pleasure, we often choose to act differently on the road than we do at home.

Sure, there have been ideas, and a cottage industry of advisors that have emerged over the years. We know about that card asking you not to have your towels or sheets changed (we know how well that works). Waterless or almost-waterless washing machines to get those linens clean deserve mention. Of course, some chains have pushed investments in renewables. Tackling the bottled water question also makes the list. The blue recycling bin in the room appears from time to time. There’s progress being made – but there is still a long road ahead as hotels sort out how to mitigate all that consumption of water, solvents and energy.

But what if hotels had self-cleaning rooms?

No, this isn’t a scenario inspired by The Hangover trilogy (nothing could have helped that sad hotel room the morning after). The Danish manufacturer ACT.Global says it has developed a proprietary coating technology that at first glance, seems almost too good to be true. This coating’s benefits come across as assuring even the most strident germaphobe: the company says it protects against microbes, cigarette smoke, allergens, and stains. The results that ACT.Global tout include better indoor air quality; reduced use of water, chemicals and detergents; and improved hygiene.

But before you cup your ear and ask, “tell me more!” let’s return back to earth. The cost, for now, is not cheap: a company representative recently told Bloomberg that using this “CleanCoat” technology costs about $2,500 per room. It may be a while until your favorite Fairfield Inn or Holiday Inn Express locations showcase this feature.

Of course, the argument goes this technology can generate long-term savings. For hotel managers, this means no cleaning products accidentally spilling and ruining carpets, reduced utility bills and even lower labor costs. Now your room’s cleaning crew can concentrate on sweeping up those airplane pretzel crumbs you saved from your flight, replacing the toiletries you hoovered two minutes after walking in the room or finding the TV remote you mistakenly left in the shower. Economies of scale could eventually kick in as more companies see the value in ACT.Global's innovation.

For now, you can find, or should we say, experience this coating wonder at the Hotel Herman K in Copenhagen. Visitors, however, may be less excited about CleanCoat than what this hotel's “industrial luxury” rooms offer – a fabulous all-inclusive minibar!

No wonder why management thought it was a good idea to have this coating applied anywhere possible.

Image credit: Hotel Herman K

Words by by Leon Kaye