Mini toiletries: A souvenir or a nuisance?
WHAT is your favorite thing about staying in a hotel?
Is it the cosy bathrobes or the dreamy beds? The fantastical array of breakfast options or spa facilities?
Perhaps it could even be the delightful range of complimentary luxury toiletries?
“Oh yes, I need six bottles of creamy conditioner, tiny earbuds and nine packets of soap,” you suddenly realize upon seeing the unattended maid’s trolley in the corridor.
But very soon, these beloved dinky toiletries could disappear from the side of the washbasin.
Why? Because hotels are realizing sustainability is the key to future success in the industry and for mankind.
The one-use tiny bits of plastic are slowly, but surely damaging the environment.
Marriott and Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) properties have announced pump-style dispensers will replace the individual toiletries, Los Angeles Times reported.
According to Marriott’s vice president for sustainability and supplier diversity Denise Naguib, the transition will mainly cater to business travelers.
“It’s a great opportunity to test this on business travelers who come in and out of our hotels instead of guests who only visit once or twice a year,” she said.
Marriott Hotels have already swapped little bottles for dispensers in its Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, Town Place Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites, Moxy and Four Points brands.
As for IHG, guests will see the toiletry pumps in Holidays Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, and Avid Hotels properties.
The feedback from the wall pump dispensers has reportedly been positive so far. Los Angeles Times quoted IHG spokeswoman Asa Hatzios as saying, “they love the in-shower, wall-mounted fixtures, easy-to-read labels… and having a larger quantity of products.”
Does everyone like the change?
Some travelers have criticized the hotel groups for taking away a “premium experience” and say the new dispensers lack a personal feel the miniature toiletries create.
One critic also raised concerns about the sanitary standards of shared dispensers, stating the National Institutes of Health study on bacterial contamination of bulk-soap-refillable dispensers found them to be “prone to extrinsic bacterial contamination.”
However, hotels are taking measures to ensure pranksters don’t replace shampoo with other liquids.
Hyatt Regency Lake Washington in the US has a fixture holding the bottle lids in place, so guests can pop them off and decant or refill with goodness knows what.
The two major hotel groups insist the switchover is for environmental reasons, not to cut costs.
This is because the tiny empty bottles are rarely recycled and end up in the rubbish heap.
Also, the little caps are hard to keep hold of in the shower and often end up down the drain causing issues for future guests.
The switch to wall-mounted dispensers is expected to eliminate the use of 10.3 million bottles or 113,000 pounds of plastic annually, Marriott said.
The changeover will certainly be a shock to travelers, especially those who look forward to grabbing a few souvenirs from the hotel.
But ultimately, miniatures aren’t unsuitable in an already heavily polluted world.