Find a Smoke-Free Hotel

An online directory of hotels that offer smoke-free accommodations launched in January at www.freshstay.com. As of late March, the site had grown to about 210 properties with a “three-pineapple” rating, which means they offer a 100 percent smoke-free environment. Site developer Pineapple Hospitality plans to launch a four-pineapple category for properties that are 100 percent nonsmoking and have other indoor air quality initiatives in place, such as environmentally friendly cleaning products, upgraded air filters, and low-odor paints.

Hyatt Promise

In April, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts launched a program that compensates guests if a reservation for a nonsmoking room can't be honored. If a nonsmoking room is not available, the guest is given the choice of a $100 Hyatt gift card or 5,000 Gold Passport bonus points.

Westin Goes Cold Turkey

In late 2005, Westin Hotels & Resorts became the first major brand to ban smoking indoors and poolside for all its 77 properties in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. The company's market research had shown that 92 percent of its room requests were for nonsmoking rooms.

Scrubbing Smoke

Know how many smokers you have, and be sure your hotel can accommodate all of them. If your attendees smoke in nonsmoking rooms, you can be hit with room-cleaning charges, which typically range from $100 to $250 per room. If the hotel wants your business but doesn't have enough smoking rooms, try to negotiate out the cleaning charge. If your VIPs smoke, find out if smoking is allowed in the suites.

Ban the Butt

While at least 10 states have banned smoking in restaurants and bars, in California's San Fernando Valley, the town of Calabasas in March enacted one of the strictest tobacco bans in the nation. Declaring smoking a public nuisance, the town prohibits smoking in all public places — indoors and out — including parks, sidewalks, and outdoor cafes. However, hotels can still allow smoking in up to 20 percent of their rooms, and workplaces and malls can have smoking areas.

Where There's Smoke

The National Fire Protection Association reports that smoking continues to be among the leading causes of deadly hotel fires. Groups traveling in Europe face a higher risk because of a greater prevalence of smokers and less use of automatic sprinkler systems, which have been shown to save lives. For a list of European hotels with sprinklers, visit www.eurosprinkler.org and click on “Find a Sprinklered Hotel.”

On the Site Inspection

Ask your hotel where the employee smoking area is. Often it's the loading dock or service entrance. Will vendors pass through a cloud of smoke delivering your food, linens, exhibits, or other materials? If your hotel's public space is not smoke-free, will they allow all ashtrays to be removed from the registration area so your meeting staff doesn't have to spend hours breathing secondhand smoke?

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SMOKE 1. (noun) the vaporous matter arising from something burning; 2. (verb) to inhale and exhale the fumes of burning plant material, especially tobacco

Sources: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, www.m-w.com