Disgusting: Hyatt Moving to Wall Mounted Shared Toiletries

Hyatt has announced that they are copying IHG and Marriott in eliminating single use plastic toiletries as soon as possible but company-wide by June 2021. They’re doing this instead of recycling the plastics and instead of using biodegradable single use packaging.

  • It’s unhygienic. Bulk toiletry bottles are rarely cleaned properly and thoroughly by housekeeping, and are more likely to be tampered with despite use of locks to make tampering more difficult. I’ve documented both phenomenon extensively.
  • It encourages use of counterfeit products. Do you expect any hotel in China will use legitimate branded products when the guest doesn’t even see the refill bottle?
  • They’re more likely to be left empty. This has already happened to me on multiple occasions.

Hyatt Regency Lake Washington

The choice isn’t between the environment and convenience, ti’s cost savings dressed in environmental guilt just like dropping daily housekeeping at the Hyatt Regency Seattle, an expensive labor market. There are alternatives that allow hotels to offer environmentally friendly packaging and single use hygienic alternatives.

Hotels also give up the emotional branding element take away toiletries provide. And it will likely change the way many of us adopt hotel toiletries for use at home. I first discovered Aesop at the Park Hyatt Tokyo and that’s what I use in my own shower.

Toiletries are such a powerful marketing tool that Hyatt used to encourage you to steal theirs. That effort is being tossed.

Hyatt will also discourage use of plastic water bottles by providing water stations (that I expect will rarely ever be cleaned) for guests to refill their own reusable bottles. Oddly, one of the few improvements we got when World of Hyatt revamped elite benefits was that elites receive a bottle of water daily.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Can’t disagree with you more. I think your heading should be “OVERDUE: Hyatt Moving to Wall Mounted Shared Toiletries”. I don’t care if it saves the hotel chain money, it is the right thing to do for the environment. I really doubt that anything outside of the hotel kitchen gets recycled in a hotel. Underpaid staff, cutting corners, cutting costs, recylcing gets chucked in with regular waste – seen it many times before. “Emotional connection” with a hotel? Yes, I love premium brands of shower gels and taking handfuls home and they are a huge impression on the brand – I can do without – mount it on the wall! And if there are hygiene problems or refill problems, this is probably not a hotel you want to be staying in anyways!

  2. I get the plastics statement. Maybe they should do weekly or monthly disposed toiletries with the installed on date?

  3. This post is kinda racist – the Chinese, really?

    Also, pack your own frigging products if you’re worried about hygiene.

  4. Please. People could tamper with single bottle usage toiletries just as easily and it might even be harder to trace back to the person doing the tampering. Guests (as always was the case before) can bring their own if it means that much to them. Since this is “cost savings dressed in environmental guilt” I presume the hyatt credit card peddling and things you love most about the card will stop coming (scroll down to day before this post)?

  5. Once again, you don’t really provide evidence to support some of your issues with the bulk system.

    In support of “its unhygienic,” you claim that bulk dispensers are “rarely” cleaned properly. In support of that claim, you link through to a picture from Kerr. That picture (1) shows mold/mildew in an area that is not coming into contact with the product (and instead is just on the plastic casing) and (2) is a single example for a general proposition. I recall in the past, you’ve harped on about someone tampering with a soap dispenser in the Detroit airport, but that is a terrible comparison because it is a far-more-public place than a hotel room.

    In support of “it encourages the use of counterfeit products,” you don’t offer any evidence whatsoever beyond a generalization about China. I’d say that at best, this system offers a greater opportunity for unscrupulous hoteliers to use off-label products.

    “They’re more likely to be left empty” – supported by anecdotal evidence of your own experience, but sure I think its fair to say that something involving more steps is less likely to be done than just putting new bottles out for use.

    Last, “[t]here are alternatives that allow hotels to offer environmentally friendly packaging and single use hygienic alternatives” does not include a link to any such product. Kerr’s article in TPG a couple of months ago proposed some such alternatives but did not say whether any of those companies have the ability to scale to the point necessary to supply a global hotel chain; whether the alternative product packaging could be produced in a size sufficient for single-use, hotel room sizing; or whether these products could be produced and packaged in an economically viable manner given the necessary scale. You also suggest that recycling the plastic packaging was a realistic alternative when in fact, many of these types of plastics are not actually recyclable, particularly for many less-well-heeled local governments.

    Obviously, I disagree with your premise, but you could be more persuasive by at least providing some actual evidence to support your point.

  6. I immediately let my concierge know that as a Globalist I’m not putting up with this.

    You all should, too.

  7. Boo. Taking shampoo/toiletries mini-bottles home (if they are any good) is a nice way to remember a hotel stay. Maybe the counter-move is to bring your own (empty) bottles and fill them up with liquid soap, shampoo, and conditioner before you leave? And someone could/should have those bottles tested and sampled (for quality/authenticity) on a periodic basis as well.

  8. @Rob-I’ve wiped mold off the dispensing spouts of these soap containers in a couple of higher end chain hotels recently and have decided to bring along on trips one of the many individual hotel soaps I’ve accumulated over the years. Hotels are doing this to save money and couldn’t care less about “Green” initiatives or eco-friendly practices.

  9. @MT
    Disgusting is you pretending to care about “the environment” and still globe trotting around the world. If you really care about the earth, then stop traveling. No, you just care about empty, token gestures that allow you free license to act smug and self righteous.

  10. Stop trying to pass off the false choice argument. This method does save wasteful use of small plastic bottles. I don’t care about a company true motives.
    You have this obsession with dispensers when your last waiter could has pissed on or jerked off on your food…have you stopped eating out?

  11. Gary, I think you are getting ridiculous. Where is such “extensively” documented evidence? A picture taken from someones instagram? Yes, extensive indeed (sarcasm)

    What makes them more likely to be tampered with?

    How about counterfeits? They can’t counterfeit small bottles, only large refillable ones? And how exactly are they encouraging counterfeits? Is their quality control process any better or worse depending on bottle size?

    I guess I’m just not following. Do you use public restrooms? And if you do, do you wash your hands using a soap dispenser provided in the restroom or bring your own?

    While I agree that the changes are likely to be for monetary reasons, I don’t think that means that they are changes for the worse. Dont want to use the bottle refill station, then dont. Dont trust the origin of the shampoo, then bring your own. It’s not that hard Gary

  12. Here’s an idea… why not have both? Let the consumers decide and if they want to use the bulk dispensers, they are free to do so. If they don’t use the miniature ones, then they are still there for the next guest.

  13. A germaphobe’s dilemma:
    Being so paranoid and yet feeling so self-important that out of millions of of travelers and dozens of other public items that one uses every day…I’m going to get the moldy or urine-containing dispenser.

    Please stay away from Hyatt. I can use the upgrade space.

  14. I still haven’t heard an answer to the question:

    If you’re concerned about the content of bulk dispensers, what makes you so certain of the contents of individual-use bottles? It’s just as easy (actually easier) to tamper with the single-use bottles, and they’re available not only in the room but also on the housekeeping carts.

    Why the concern over one and not the other?

  15. Gary; you need help. Stop with this appalling phobia of shower mounted toiletries. It’s embarrassing. As others have pointed out, if this freaks you out so much, BRING YOUR OWN TOILETRIES. Then you don’t have to be so freaked out about it.

  16. As an avid diver, i have seen the horrible amount of trash in the oceans; mostly plastics.

    I would agree that the change to bulk containers are for cost reasons and given the amount of plastics that are just thrown away, this will save a tremendous amount of plastics going into the trash. I would insist that the bulk packages be also biodegradable so that we can truly have less packaging in totality. The solution is just not a lot more bottles that decompose quicker.

    This is the same reason that bulk water bottle fillers are the right thing to do. We all did this prior to the beverage companies convincing us in the 90s that tap water is bad and must drink bottled water. Tap water is for the most part better than a lot of the bottled water (of course Flint no withstanding). Again, its a cost savings, but its the right thing to reduce the amount of plastic being used.

    This sanitary thing is just another customer service thing that needs to be part of the service standard at a hotel property. I believe your experiences are just teething problems and will be appropriately corrected in future housekeeping manuals/training. Also, get over the germ thing…..there are a lot more worse surfaces than the internal part of a dispenser that you wont even touch!

    Lets not all assume everyone is out to be bad and trying to ruin our hotel stays….stop the fear! IF you really want to have your own shampoo, then bring it yourself….or soap. Better yet, just dont travel; this is part of traveling…..

    Overall – great changes to reduce plastic packaging use….i would love to see a hotel chain completely ban the use of plastic water bottles and plastic cups in favor of reusable glasses (this would be the true test of doing it for “green” as that is more expensive to implement this kind of system).

  17. “…it is the right thing to do for the environment.”

    Arguably, one of the most empty, mindless statements regurgitated ad nauseam.

  18. I’m on the Gary side, but understand to each his own. Gary, even once this change occurs, do you expect hotels (at least the high end ones) will still have the single use available on request. The new law in CA prohibits single-use from being placed in the rooms/bathrooms, but doesn’t actually ban them. Once that law kicks in my standard practice will just be to ask for a stash of single use at check in.

  19. Funny, the individual toiletry bottles I’ve had in my rooms for years never seem to be sealed in a way that they couldn’t be tampered with. I’ve also never seen housekeepers handling them with sterile gloves that are only used once, so that those bottles have never been touched by any other human’s hands when I get into the shower in the morning and open them up. But, apparently that’s been happening all along in your hotels, so maybe I’m staying in the wrong places?

    Really, I don’t know how you function in the world with this level of paranoia. It must be difficult. By the way, not to alarm you even more, but EVERYTHING could possibly have germs on it, including everything in your own home. Yet, miraculously, we all manage to live just fine and not get sick and die, and do so without living life in sterile plastic bubbles.

    Quite a few hotels have been using bulk toiletry dispensers for years now, mostly without any issues at all – including a number of the former SPG brands (Aloft and element have had them as standard issue since day one, over a decade ago). I think you and everyone else will be okay.

  20. It will only increase the number of travelers carrying their own “disposable” toiletries. There is no known system to date that is tamper proof this is akin to refillable water bottles in your room “would You” ?

    Its emblematic of the drive to the bottom line with hotels and their ownership.

  21. I think it’s hilarious that hotels have begun this. I have been taking my empty water bottles and literally filling them up with the shampoo, conditioner and soap in the bottles and taking the bottles home. I figure it’s a big win… I now get more free soap and shampoo to take home to the wife and it teaches the hotels a lesson on trying stupid money saving ideas. If everybody started doing this, I bet they would really swotch the tactics back quickly… I wonder how they would try to spin that!

  22. I buy the small3 oz travel bottles and refill from my home before traveling. Easy to get thru TSA, I get the product I want and use as I have allergies to many soaps and fragrances. I have used the same bottles for at least 9 years. One bottle for aspirin is over 30 years old.

  23. Ok boomer. I’m Sorry if you need little souvenirs to remember your stay at the Hyatt, but maybe consider that this decision is more about taking steps to correct the problems caused by your consumerism, and take a digital photo of the hotel room instead.

    This article is bullshit. None of the claims are backed up with any research or sources, and it’s a prime example of an entitled person who doesn’t think that it’s necessary to make behavioral/material adjustments to fight climate change.

    Many of the tiny shampoo/conditioner bottles are too small to actually be recycled – the lids are ALL too small. On top of that, most hotels don’t have in-room recycling, so the bottles end up getting land filled anyway.

    This method will cut down on wasted product, plastic waste, and force people to think about the reasoning behind these changes, which is that there’s nowhere for this plastic to go.

  24. @NVV all of the claims are backed up by research, I’ve written extensively on this and cited CDC papers on the germs and I’ve photographed incidents of tampering and cited others. Your comment however is not backed up with any resource or sources nad is a prime example of an entitled person who doesn’t think it’s necessary to think critically about an important issue like the environment.

    I’m also not a boomer, nor is a dismissive put down about age… critically thinking about an important issue like the environment.

  25. Yo Gary,

    If you’re so freaked out about germs and bacteria, don’t stay in hotel rooms. Do you travel with your own pillows and blankets? Do you make sure all surfaces are sanitized before you enter the room?

    And I’m sorry if you think calling you a boomer is ageist, but you seem to be ok with making overarching generalizations about entire cultures – you know, insinuating that every single hotel in China will use counterfeit products. That said, I’m sorry I assumed you (and many other commenters) were of a certain generation. I shouldn’t have imagined you were a certain age just because your opinions are based in racism, a lack of concern for how this solution could actually make a positive impact of the fight against plastic waste, and your materialistic need for souvenirs.

    Also, how can you make the claim to be an environmentalist and also take issue with hotels not offering free plastic water bottles?

    My claims are backed up with research:

    Less than 10% of all plastics ever produced have been successfully recycled (https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/plastics-material-specific-data).

    Hotels typically don’t recycle used/half-used bottles. (https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5d41d2d2e4b0db8affb27022/amp)

    And even if they do, the cleaning staff likely doesn’t rinse them out before recycling. This is a problem for recycling facilities. (https://www.google.com/amp/s/metro.co.uk/2018/02/15/happens-dont-bother-washing-recycling-7315366/amp/)

    Speaking of recycling facilities, most are not equipped to handle plastic pieces under 3” (and 2” in some cases). These pieces (ie: the lids to which I previously referred) pass through the sorters without being sorted, and end up being diverted to area in which all landfill materials are sent. (https://apps.npr.org/plastics-recycling/)

    Can I see your sources?

  26. I really don’t understand the hyperbolic, hysterical nature of
    these posts about single use plastic bottles.

    I can’t wait until mileage running is banned as well, and to hear how all of these bloggers try and justify that too.

  27. Agree 100% with Gary.

    A lot of comments in favor of these changes don’t consider the human aspect of abuse – some really terrible things happen to unsuspecting customers by negligence or deliberately.

    It’s one thing for a Ramada Inn to decide on this. It’s something else for Hyatt to go down this road.

    Very disappointed.

  28. ok, so you mean instead of a small bottle of Aesop from the hotel to take home I can now bring a bigger bottle and fill it from the big dispenser, call housekeeping, and get me more Aesop?


  29. 100% agree with Gary.
    (a) This trend of wall soup dispensers is disgusting.
    (b) Those arguing that big dispensers does not save the environment. Stop virtue signalling.
    (c) Calling Gary a germ-a-phobe is stupid. He gets on a plane doesn’t he. Travels everywhere and has been in contact with massive number of global germs.
    (d) Calling Gary a racist because he states the obvious about Chinese business practice is also dumb. I know a Chinese woman in New York that will not buy food (even dog food) from China because she is worried about cleanliness standards in China.
    (f) People that mock tampering are not paying attention to daily life. Every bottle in the USA is in tamper-proof plastic wrap. Why? Because in the 1970s, there where some that though it amusing to open medicines, mouthwash, and so forth and replace the contents with poison, needles, glass and what not. The sealed bottles were reaction to that. He who does not learn from history is destined to repeat it.
    (g) Someone went off on water bottles. True, in the USA, water is safe. However, in Mexico, India, Thailand, Cambodia….I drink bottled water, because I do not want to catch Montezuma’s revenge. Duh.

  30. Put up your postal address, Gary. We’d love to send you miniatures , so that you’re able to continue to travel without this paralysing fear of contaminated bathroom products. Are you fearful of going to the park lest you be kicked to death by a rogue duck?

  31. There ain’t no such thing as tamper proof. The accurate term is tamper resistant. I agree with OJS ,though, that wall-mounted soup dispensers are disgusting.

  32. I also 100% agree with Gary on this. The last two hotels I stayed at with wall-mounted dispensers had issues with them. Both were moldy and one of them ran out.

    The other issue is that all of this is being done in the name of environmentalism when it really is 100% profit-motivated. In some cases, the bulk dispensers are LESS environmentally friendly due to the extra plastic used for the disposable pumps.

    If the hotels want to offer the wall-mount stuff, fine, but still at least provide the individual bottles upon request.

  33. Disgusting?

    Ok boomer

    What’s “disgusting” is an Uninhabitable planet brought on through laziness, greed, or germophobic hang ups (speaking as one myself).

    How are you offsetting all those flights Gary?

  34. This post is disgusting. Americans – A throwaway society. Hotels also should ban plastic knives, forks, cups at the breakfast.
    The only point I can agree with is that they might be left empty. I had a stay where one bottle was empty. But what’s the big deal? Call housekeeping and having it exchanged. The same as they would forget to put the little bottles in your room. By the way, it’s as easy to tamper with the throwaway bottles as with bulk dispensers, even easier, because have you ever checked one of the throwaway bottles and confirmed whats inside.? Most of them are not even sealed.
    @Gary you forgot one of the most important points against any hotel toiletries. The hotel toiletries itself are racist!!! Yes society finds always new ways to impress me.https://www.glamour.com/story/halsey-hotel-shampoo-women-of-color

    There are easy solutions for all of this.
    Solution 1. This is the easiest one
    Bring your own stuff, so nobody can complain that the toiletries are racist, tampered with, unhygienic and so on. Or wait. Maybe toiletries are unhygienic in general.
    Solution 1.5. Don’t shower, Ever!!!!
    Solution 2. Only shower wearing a hazmat suit. Yes, I guarantee you, you are a 100% safe if you wear CDC approved hazmat suites. none of the tampered, unhygienic shampoo can ever harm you 😉

  35. How do you travel? There are so many germs in the world. Think of the ones crawling RIGHT NOW on the hotel remote that’s never been cleaned…on the fabric headboard…on the carpet that gets vacuumed but with a nasty dirty vacuum and never gets shampooed…. How do you function? Maybe you should seek treatment for your OCD. They are on wall shampoo bottles. Every gym has them. Fancy spas. And plenty of hotels. Grow up and stop washing your hair at home with tiny bottles of shampoo you stole off maid carts. Learn to buy your own freaking conditioner.

  36. Give it a rest Gary!

    This is a personal phobia and should not be escalated to this level. Millions of people using this every day and world is not ending because of it.

  37. Environmental Nazis saving the planet through USA hating, virtue signalling, moral superiority, and banning plastic. Besides Mother Gia will be pleased.

  38. Nothing “race” related by observing the cultural and economic practices of people in China. Moreover, if it’s not obvious, the customs of ABCs will be more often American and to such norms and standards.

    While I agree this move is “gross”, it is also wasteful. Gary’s complaints are legitimate, but I’m compelled to wonder if it’s solvable a different way. Yes, the supply chain of authentic product into container is suspect — can this be made transparent and verifiable? Yes, tampering can occur — can this me made evident? Yes, there’s a compliance issue with housekeeping — can another chore be levied, and how to ensure feedback that it is?

    I’ll fully admit that Hyatt will not do anything to address these complaints, but there is reason to rethink the existing system.

    Similarly, while it’s “easier” to have a bottle of water next to my bed – is it really? Ponder the logistics of trucking water all over the place to save me the burden of fetching it myself. Then add in the absurdity that it’s housed in PETE (plastic #1), which leeches estrogens into the water (read “Estrogeneration”). Is this really the best system? Would it not be possible (albeit labor-expensive) to deliver reusable glass-bottles to my room that are regularly cleaned with Ozone-bubbled water? (as in Andaz Maui)

  39. I am not a fan. Of the few places I have stayed in that have this, on one the pump handles were dirty and pretty gross, and another time the shampoo was empty when we checked in. When we asked them to fill it they filled it with conditioner. I don’t buy at all the idea that if you are against this you are against the planet.

  40. @Ed. ABCs are American, full stop. Most barely speak Chinese. My story was about a woman born in Hong Kong. However, she has pretty much Americanized.

    Regarding fakes, I have another story. My friend from Shanghai goes shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue for designer gifts when she comes to New York. She told me that there are so many fakes in China, that designer gifts from New York are considered more genuine.

    I agree with you on glass. If you store plastic bottles in Limburger Cheese, I am willing to bet the water ends up with a funny smell and taste. However, if you store glass bottles in Limburger Cheese, I do not think it changes the smell of the water at all.

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