Violating A Hotel's No Smoking Policy Could Cost You $250

Hotels are starting to to hit smokers with hefty fines for violating their no smoking policies. Take Dan Cole. He didn’t light up in his non-smoking Marriott room, honest. Those butts in his garbage can? Um, he smoked them somewhere else and threw them out in the room?

It costs Marriott over $1,000 to scrub the smoke-stink off a room, a charge they happily offset by smacking smokers like Dan with a $250 fine.

Some hotels seek out actual physical evidence before they levy a fine. The New York Marriott Downtown first started charging people $250 for simply leaving the smell of smoke in their rooms after the brand went 100% nonsmoking in Sept. 2006. Within a few weeks, they realized they had too many complaints, says Anna Cervenyak, the hotel’s office manager. Security started taking pictures of butts or ashes when housekeeping found them. Though they still make “plenty” of refunds, they now show people physical evidence, which usually is enough to draw a confession, Ms. Cervenyak says.

Physical evidence also plays a role when a guest tries to protest against the charge through a credit-card company. Sam Patel, who owns the Quality Inn Brick Town in Oklahoma City, says, “A lot of times you have to argue with the credit-card company” to have a smoking charge accepted. “If you don’t find a cigarette,” he says, the charge will not go through, and “we lose money.” he says.

At least one hotel gives employees an incentive to catch illicit smokers: Swissotel Chicago awards housekeepers a $10 bonus for every smoker they catch.

Lingering smoke-stench can cause a nasty unwanted sore throat for sensitive folks like us—not a perk you want when paying for a room. We’d be glad to see no smoking violators strapped to plane wings and sent through hail storms, but we’ve been told to work on our sensitivity issues. We’re willing to accept that select others might think differently, which is why we have comments.

Where were we?
Right, smoking in hotel rooms.

Please don’t.

Now at Hotels: The $250 Cigarette [WSJ]
(Photo: Getty)