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Marriott Scent Branding needs to go! People are getting sick from chemicals in air fresheners in AirScent fans!!

Question asked by lra on May 6, 2016

I just sent this to Marriott Customer Service and a large news organization.


Dear Marriott Hotels,

I’m writing requesting a refund for the time I was a guest at one of your facilities. Due to no fault of my own, I was ill the entire time I was there because of the scent-branding your corporation is doing.


I stayed at the Naperville Illinois location for a working conference from Thursday, April 28th and checked out Sunday, May 1st.  Immediately upon walking into the lobby, I was hit with an extremely strong perfume-like aroma. I checked in and was told the hotel is Eco-Friendly and given instruction regarding the lights and heating/cooling system in my room. I didn’t mention any aroma at this point because I thought it might have come from passing a guest with too liberal perfume.

But no, once in my room, I realized the aroma was something within the hotel and even though it wasn’t as strong in my room, I could still smell it. While in my room, I called housekeeping and asked for the feather pillows to be removed and replaced because of allergies. They brought me the hardest foam pillows I’ve ever used and simply told me to use the closet blanket instead of the feather comforter.


I went to the dining area which is part of the lobby/bar/lounge/restaurant and had dinner alone while I worked. I was seated in the booth that is furthest from the bar. As I worked, I could smell the perfume, which got a lot stronger every time someone walked past my table. By the time my dinner came, I was woozy, light-headed, my eyes were burning and watering, and I had a headache. None of which I had upon arrival at the Marriott.


After dinner, I went to the front desk where two employees greeted me. I asked if the hotel pumps air freshener through the heating/cooling system and told them whatever it was making me ill – woozy and feeling highly allergic to it. I mentioned I had just had all my feather pillows removed and asked if they could turn down the air scent.


One of the employees began telling me how all Marriott Hotels have a signature scent to help with branding and it’s not something they can turn off. He said the used air freshener machines in the lobby only. The other employee then told me that he, too, gets ill from the scent and several employees have complained and don’t like it either. (In retrospect, I wish I would’ve directed that young man to OSHA because what I have discovered in a short amount of research time is appalling.) I was told they would talk to a manager about turning it down.


When my conference began on Friday, several conference attendees commented on the effects they were experiencing due to the strong perfume scent floating around the hotel. Headaches, raw throat, watery eyes, burning eyes, light-headedness, etc. Many of us actually had to cover our noses while walking through the lobby and while sitting in the lobby restaurant and lounge area. This occurred all through Saturday and Sunday as well.


Sunday morning, while I was walking in the hallway that leads from the Grand Ballroom to the restaurant/bar area (where I had sat on Thursday for dinner), I noticed a black floor stand with a black square framed box on top of it against the wall. Inside the square frame was the Scent Unit, blasting full on people-sickening air freshener. I took the liberty of unplugging it. I wished I had noticed it sooner, along with the one placed behind a plant on a table at the main entrance, because I would’ve unplugged that one too.

It seems like such an easy fix but unfortunately, my complaint and the air quality others suffer through are less important than branding through smell.


I’d like to point out that in the very short amount time I spent researching, I came across complaint after complaint regarding people leaving your hotels due to getting sick, having asthma attacks, migraines, allergic reactions, etc.  these complaints date back 2-3 years so this is a recurring problem you are aware of and do nothing about.

I’d also like to point out the irony of touting your Eco-friendly environment when you are using chemicals to poison the air and your guests. The ingredients in the Belle Fragrances, suppliers of your ScentAir fan units, include formaldehyde and a plethora of other toxic chemicals.


According to your own website, your core value is to Put People First as stated on your 2015 Health, Safety and Well Being report. From my experience, it seems you are putting scent branding first since you have been aware of this problem and complaint for years.

I see your 2015 Goals/Targets mention Providing a safe and healthy environment for associates and guests and I hope you begin to take this more seriously. Air quality has a huge impact on the health of many people. Even people who never experienced aroma sensitivity were experiencing health affects during my stay.


Another Goal/Target you’ve listed is Raising awareness of potential hazards for associates and guests and the ScentAir system is not just a potential hazard, it IS a hazard and needs to go.


Regarding your Goals/Targets, I say you’re in the right direction but please refer back to Put People First and avoid using products that make us sick. These products also have a negative impact on the environment through waste and water contamination. 

I’ve read complaints from all over the World regarding “scent branding” in hotels and urge Marriott and other corporations to make their guests aware of the use of these products before a reservation is made. From now on, I will ask upon making a reservation and avoid staying anywhere that purposefully poisons indoor air.




  • Articles about the toxicity and health effects of air fresheners:

Scents and Senseless Toxins article -

Toxic Air Fresheners -

  • Marriott’s Eco-Friendly policy:

Marriott Environmental Responsibly links. To this I say you’re in the right direction but please refer back to Put People First and avoid using products that make us sick. These products also have a negative impact on the environment through waste and water contamination.

  • Marriott Rewards Forums with complaints dating back to 2014 proves the corporations has been aware of complaints for years as seen on the forums of your website:

Marriott 2014 –

2015 Update On Health, Safety and Well Being –

The foundation of Marriott International’s success lies in our core value to Put People

  1. First. The company’s longstanding philosophy as was expressed originally by our founder,
  2. J. Willard Marriott, and is still embraced by our associates around the world today, is

“Take care of your associates and they’ll take care of your customers and the customers

will come back.”


When our associates feel valued, respected and trusted, they are better able to take care of themselves, our customers and our communities. We believe the health, safety and wellbeing of our associates and guests is critical to our success and the vitality of our local communities. We have established formal programs to help drive our efforts in each of these areas.


Taking care of our guests and associates is a priority for Marriott. Our goals include:

  • Offering a comprehensive benefits package, including the TakeCare Wellbeing program, to ensure associates have the tools they need to live and prosper.
  • Providing a safe and healthy environment for associates and guests.
  • Raising awareness of potential hazards for associates and guests.
  • Educating associates on proper reporting procedures


Please note I have attached photos of the ScentAir machine located literally 6 to 8 feet from where I had been sitting on Thursday during my dinner. (photos not shown).