Butts out at the Buttes in Tempe - East Valley Tribune: Business

Butts out at the Buttes in Tempe

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Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2006 6:36 am | Updated: 4:27 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The East Valley’s newest Marriott is ready to stamp out smoking and clean the curtains. Like the other 60 Arizona Marriotts and nearly 2,800 in North America, The Buttes in Tempe will become a 100 percent smoke-free hotel within the next couple of months.

“This will be great for customer satisfaction,” said Steve Eberhart, Buttes general manager. “We’ve been expecting it. And the timing is great — it coincides with plans to redo our corridors.”

Marriott International announced Wednesday that all the company’s North American hotels will abolish indoor smoking throughout the properties. That means every place from bars to bedrooms to boardrooms will be off-limits for those who want to light up.

The policy includes all the company’s brands — Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn and SpringHill Suites.

The smoke-free initiative goes into effect in September. Individual hotels can accommodate smoking guests with reservations in the short term, but even guests booked in advance will have to find other accommodations or abstain by Oct. 16, said Linda Propoggio, sales and marketing director at the Phoenix Marriott Mesa.

The Marriotts won’t be first in the Valley to banish butts.

The Westin Kierland has been smoke-free since January.

But there are so many local Marriotts that the chain’s move could start a trend.

Eberhart thinks so.

“Other brands will follow in short order,” he predicts.

Eberhart isn’t worried about losing business.

“There might be some who choose to stay somewhere else,” he said. “But I think even in the short term we will gain more than we lose.”

Nonsmoking guests have to settle for smoking rooms if the resort is full, he said. And that is off-putting to the nonsmokers since there is no way to quickly remove the smoke stink, he said.

At the Westin Kierland, “the smoking ban has been good for business,” said resort spokeswoman Erica Rich. In the previous year, only four guests of the property on the Scottsdale-Phoenix border requested smoking rooms, so Rich does not believe the butt ban turned anyone away.

Still, some are concerned.

The JW Marriott Desert Ridge sales team “is looking at it right now,” said Marcy Edwards, spokeswoman for the northeast Phoenix resort. “It may impact some business. Overall, we’re not anticipating a big effect on hotel revenue.”

Propoggio is worried, too.

“It’s a little scary,” she said. “But I have to trust Marriott International because

they do extremely good customer research.”

Marriott found that 90 percent of hotel guests in North America preferred entirely smoke-free environments, Propoggio said.

And she agreed that the only way to achieve that is to eliminate smoking — even in guest rooms.

At the Mesa property, one of 12 floors has designated smoking rooms, and just opening elevator doors to that floor blasts nonsmoking guests with a foul-smelling cloud, she said.

“I avoid that floor,” she said.

The Marriott no-smoking initiative came from the top, Propoggio said.

“Creating a smoke-free environment demonstrates a new level of service and care for our guests and associates,” chairman J.W. Marriott Jr. said in a statement announcing the new policy.

“Our family of brands is united on this important health issue and we anticipate very positive customer feedback.”

Propoggio said it’s not surprising. Guest requests were the prime motivator, but the U.S. surgeon general’s report on the dangers of second-hand smoke cinched Marriott’s resolve.

“Bill Marriott is always making moves for the betterment of the community,” Propoggio said. “He sticks his neck out, and others follow suit.”

Propoggio said the Mesa hotel will get a “complete cleansing,” from washing down walls to steam cleaning all upholstery and carpeting to get rid of the smoke smell.

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