Housekeeping Protesting Guests Who ‘Make a Green Choice’ With Marriott

Hotels want you to re-use towels, not have your sheets changed, and even decline housekeeping entirely. They tell you it’s for the environment, but their primary interest is saving costs.

I never minded so much when Starwood would offer 500 points for a night without housekeeping, they called it “Make a Green Choice.” That’s equivalent to 1500 Marriott points. The new Marriott program doesn’t award more than 500 points for a night without housekeeping, a two-thirds cut.

Housekeeping staff complain about the programs. More guests opting out means fewer rooms to clean and less work. But they have to do more cleaning after a guest has gone without for several days. And they say work scheduling becomes more erratic.

Marriott housekeeping staff represented by union Unite Here are considering strikes in Boston, San Francisco, Waikiki, and Maui. With contracts up around the same time Detroit, Oakland, Seattle, San Jose, and San Diego may consider strikes as well.

Guests at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco and possibly elsewhere are being leafleted in their rooms by housekeepers.


Marriott encourages you to fly out and visit their hotels, eat beef in the restaurant, extend your stay by flying your family out too, but what you’re really doing that’s harming the environment is having your room tidied. I’ve always found it odd that a hotel chain promotes the idea that their housekeepers are bad for the environment.

Still it’s one thing to have striking workers picket outside of a hotel. It’s quite another for worker disputes to enter the guest room, for housekeepers to use their access to the hotel, and possibly their work hours, in this way.

However given this activism I’d be somewhat worried about opting into Marriott’s devalued Green Choice program, concerned that some housekeeping staff might decide to retaliate against guests who use it — doing a less than sanitary job, perhaps, on the day(s) they do clean an opt-out guest’s room.

You probably leave your toothbrush on the counter by the bathroom sink. And don’t drink out of those glasses that are left in the room if you’re Making a Green Choice.

Marriott, though, doesn’t see my germaphobia as a risk. I reached out to them, and they shared:

We have the most incredible team of housekeepers in the industry and they care deeply about ensuring great stays for our guests. The Make a Green Choice program has been in place for a decade at SPG hotels and Marriott’s Your Choice program launched in 2015. Our housekeepers work hard and do an amazing job. We disagree with any suggestion that these hardworking associates would intentionally not meet our cleaning standards because of these programs.

Make a Green Choice is just one part of an overall effort by the company to address pressing environmental issues. From reducing our environmental footprint to setting sustainability goals for development and our supply chain, we are focused on reducing our environmental footprint across our operations. Make A Green Choice, along with initiatives like doing away with plastic straws and stirrers are some of the efforts where our guests are able to participate with us in having a positive environmental impact.

(HT: W.I.)

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, 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. In my Make a Green choice experience, I always leave w/ my hotel room as clean as possible. Everyone has a different level of organization whether they get daily or no housekeeping. I like the program.

  2. I ma not taking a side in this discussion.
    I will state that if housekeeping is done the right way it should take a long time to clean a room everyday.
    For decades I have been visiting a Sheraton at FRA. The housekeeping seems to take a long time, I have left my room, gone shopping and returned noticing housekeeping still in the same room. I am sure there are places where housekeeping simply waves at the dirt, those require more work after a few days.

  3. This is bogus. Housekeepers are full of BS. They get paid to do a job and they still do not do their job. And the maid supervisor does not do their job. I have over 109 nights since January 1st 2018 this year at various Hilton properties nationwide and almost every day, yes, almost every day, no matter which hotel, there is ALWAYS an incident. I have pictures. I call the front desk. I have someone come up and physically witness so it is not just my word or my complaint. The housekeeper are full of s***. Full of it. Maid: do your f***ing job. You are getting paid. Do your job. Why didn’t someone take my dirty towels on the floor? Why wasn’t my bed made? Two weeks later the bed wasn’t made again, same hotel. Why? Why wasn’t the floor mopped? Why wasn’t the carpet vacuumed? The pretzels and food debris has been here for days, why don’t you vacuum? Why are there stains on the door where someone sneezed and you didn’t clean it? Why are the towels not replaced? Why isn’t the bath mat replaced? Why isn’t the hand towels replaced? Why isn’t the tissue box replaced? The table lamp doesn’t work, did you check it? Did you tell maintenance? The coffee wasn’t replaced, why not? And there is no 1/2+1/2, why don’t you replace it? I used the soap bar one time and then you threw it away. Why? I opened the shampoo bottle and used a tiny drop and the next day, you threw it away. Why? You see the faucet leaks when you turn it on, why don’t you tell maintenance? The desk is dirty every night, why don’t you clean it? There is obviously honey or something sticky on it, why don’t you clean it? Why do I have to tell you and bring this to your attention? There are stains on the sheet but you still put it on the bed. They are visible right here at the top where you did the fold with the stain plainly visible. This is just a very small list. I even email Diamond desk at Hilton and all they do is forward it to the hotel. Hilton corporate does nothing. Why? Why? Why? Why am I, the paying guest, the quality assurance person? Why? Why? Why? Maid: do your f***ing job. You are getting paid. Do your job. Now you are complaining about guests who want to save the environment and you are twisting that into making it the guests’ and hotels’ problem? Stop that BS. Quit and let someone else do your job. Go away.

  4. I haven’t stayed with Marriott yet. I’m Lifetime Platinum with Starwood and I’ve had 4 discussions & several emails with them as they still have me listed as plain old Platinum on my new Marriott page. But I always take Green Choice. 99% of the time I’m alone in a suite. I can easily make my own bed, reuse towels and I bring my own shampoo/conditioner/body wash.

    I don’t LIKE people in my room. I’m a germaphobe who brings Clorox wipes and little Lysol sprays. I’m sorry that this is hurting anyone, I really am. But I’m paying for the room so shouldn’t I get the choice? As angry as I am with Marriott right now for not knowing how to fix my status, I’m happy to hear that they have Green Choice. It’s better for the environment, too!

  5. @Donato…. All I know is when we go to Trisara in Thailand, a team of ~4 people cleans our room twice a day — the first time for about 90 minutes and second time for turndown for about 20-30 minutes. And they’re working hard the entire time. Bigger room, yes, but not tremendously so. And I’m not even including the staff that cleans the pool or does our flowers, etc while the housekeepers are there … I’m talking just housekeepers.

  6. I guess I’m split… on one hand I don’t think an action by a corporation can’t have BOTH a positive environmental AND financial impact.. I guess I don’t see this as a zero-sum situation.

    On the other hand- I see the issue raised with housekeeping.. that said, I do think that the larger “green” movement is here and here to stay- and I think it’s a poor choice of “avenues” for the labour-side to argue its negatives on their members…. I think they’d be wiser to promote an alternative to the management plan that addresses the “green” component AND also their financial issues as well. Show that the hotel can go green AND still keep labours’ financial position in tact.

    Lastly, I would wholly DISagree with any situation where it would be permissbale for housekeeping to leave any literature that is not company approved, in any guest room OR to alter any structure of the hotel by way of postings or the like.. that action should be done in accordance with standard informational picketing practices.

  7. I admit I feel guilty about housekeeping service and don’t really like it. I decline service throughout my stay and tidy up before I go. Only thing the staff will generally need to do is change sheets/towels, empty a single trash can, wipe down the bathroom counter, and replenish toiletries. This is probably not entirely rational.

  8. @ Adam – Way to go! Beating up on the lowest member on the totem pole. Tells a lot about YOU!

  9. If forgoing housekeeping is “making a green choice,” I must be an environmental saint for all the times I use airbnb. I get the problem: if housekeeping is paid by the hour, it can be complicated to establish and enforce a reasonable schedule of room cleaning. If housekeeping is paid by the room, it is unfair to bribe guests to forego daily cleaning without ensuring housekeepers are compensated for the extra work needed.

    Having said this, I feel like those pamphlets are just as creepy as leaving an envelope demanding a tip. Guests shouldn’t be dragged into disagreements between management and staff.

  10. Adam, all your comments about the defects in the cleaning of your room are no doubt true. I’ve seem many of those defects myself. But the problem lies NOT with the housekeeping staff at the bottom, but with management at the top. Management either doesn’t care or are unaware, and in either case, it’s on them for their management negligence. If a housekeeper leaves a room with the problems you described (and we’ve all seen) then management should detect the problem right away and fix it. Counciling the employee, reeducation or dismissal are all options, or giving them cleaner linens or other supplies. And as others have noted, some properties have management (and their staffs) that do a terrific job.

  11. I agree with @Adam. I too have over 250 nights this year alone, mostly at Hilton brands and regardless of the brand, city, or price paid rooms are never cleaned like they should be. or maintained. When I have to decline specific room numbers because I know what wrong with room previously, its a problem. To be fair, I don’t stay at Marriotts but I think Hilton is testing this program too. I think I saw it at a Garden Inn somewhere. I dont usually request to have room cleaned nor do I bring up any issues.

  12. @SomeDutchGuy – Don’t be picking on me. Answer this: why can’t these maids do their job? They are getting paid to do their job. Why don’t you answer that question instead of beating me up. Tells a lot about YOU!

  13. @Adam. Condolences on having to live half your life in domestic chain hotels.
    Must be depressing and it shows.

  14. I think Adam is correct about the substandard maintenance and cleaning in general. I think the more you stay in hotels the more you notice it and you would think that cheaper hotels do a worse job but they don’t. Even expensive hotels do a crappy job at maintenance and cleaning.
    I agree though that management should take some of the blame. It is a low paying back breaking job that some of us would not want to do. So management must train support pay fairly and staff accordingly so the job gets done well and consistently.

  15. Good news for housekeeping staff – with the 2/3 cut in MAGC pricing for ex-Starwood folks, we are being incented to turn down the points in favor of daily housekeeping

  16. I’ve had pretty good experience with Marriott housekeeping. I took advantage of the 500 point offer in Orlando and made sure to tip the housekeeper adequately on the days I didn’t have housekeeping.

    What always gets me though, is that even though I didn’t leave my towels on the floor, they still got replaced… isn’t this another aspect of their “green” program? This happened to me in Orlando and just last week in Panama.

  17. Rami, I agree that in some hotels, maintenance is lacking. I read somewhere that some hotels time their housekeepers; that they must finish a certain number of rooms in a specific (typically short) amount of time. The level of cleanliness is undoubtedly going to suffer in that kind of situation. I wonder if those are union or non-union shops.

    DCJoe, I’m with you. i feel guilty having someone pick up after me when I’m perfectly capable of keeping my room tidy. I dislike those “green” cards in rooms that direct people who want new towels to leave them on the floor. Housekeeping work is bad enough, but to tell guests to make the maids bend over to get dirty towels seems unnecessarily back-breaking.

  18. @dcjoe
    I do EXACTLY the same, and I even take my own trash sometimes to the hallway bin
    Irrational, yes, but who cares?

  19. Adam,

    It sounds like you’ve dealt with a lot of substandard service. It must be frustrating and you’re absolutely right to complain. However, the way in which you do it will not get you your desired outcome. Asking/demanding over 14 times “Why?” or demanding that a service person “do their [expletive] job” immediately undermines your credibility.

    When someone’s done a bad job or provided bad service, it should be rectified. You’re 100% correct. But when you demand it in this way it seems like you’re looking to humiliate or demean someone who’s done said bad job or rendered bad service. It won’t get you what you want. I hope you’ll rethink your approach and have a more satisfactory stay in the future. I also hope that your post is merely a rant emboldened by the anonymity of the internet. I sincerely hope this is not how you’d actually approach another human being (service worker or not) in real life.

    Consider this, if you were to act out your post, would you worry whether someone had their camera phone ready? It seems meme-worthy if you ask me. I’m sure you wouldn’t want an employer, love-interest, friends or family to see you in such a state.

    I hope you find peace, whatever that may look like to you.

  20. “what you’re really doing that’s harming the environment is having your room tidied.”

    I mean, within the context of your hotel stay, the energy to clean and dry your sheets and towels is one of the biggest.

    Yeah obviously flying on a plane is a bazillion times that, but that’s a complaint shared with most of consumerist environmentalism, right? Making visible changes that make you feel better about a wasteful lifestyle. Buy a new Prius with components from around the world instead of not driving 25,000 miles a year. Get some energy efficient lights and better insulation instead of downsizing your monstrous home that’s three times what it would have been 60 years ago and keeping it a little less air-conditioned. Same deal.

  21. It must be a generational thing. When I see a sign on a joint Alamo/National airport bus that says something like “sharing shuttles for the environment” I think less of the company. I know that the reason they’re running a joint shuttle isn’t for Planet Earth, it’s to save money, and I don’t like businesses pretending otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with a business being efficient; there’s no reason to sanctimoniously lie to customers about it. But I suppose some younger folks don’t see it that way.

    Similarly, Marriott isn’t primarily motivated by the environment to reduce housekeeping services. Housekeeping costs money, and many guests don’t really need it daily. So there’s nothing wrong with splitting the savings with guests. But claiming this is “for the environment” rubs me the wrong way, just like those placards on the towel racks touting “Project Planet” so I’ll use my towel again.

    I guess I can understand why maids don’t want people declining their services. There’s less maid work. At least they’re being semi-honest about it!

  22. This is what unions do. Demand above market wages for lower quality work, and engage in threats, intimidation, and thuggery. Unions have outlived their usefulness.

  23. Hard to believe this is new info. It was obvious from Day 1 that MAGC was all about hotel saving $$$ and shafting workers not enviro nonsense. As a former union steward & fellow germphobe I would never take points but that’s my choice.

  24. Housekeeping is a cost center and will always be treated as such by any management.

    That housekeepers are timed highlights that the profession in general is “one level” away from automation, and that’s a good thing.

    Nobody wants to be a housekeeper, but it is an approachable job for the unskilled. Unions have a bias toward positions that may be unproductive to society as a whole. Nuke unions, but let’s add an EITC for all.

  25. Hilton stiffed me for points twice for their green room program (both properties in Little Rock) so I don’t bother doing it anywhere now unless I want no housekeeping for my own personal reasons.

  26. But, but, but you mean we aren’t saving polar bears but not leaving our towels on the floor. Duh. About time some light is shed on this sort of junk.

  27. I do not believe for a split second that a room that has declined housekeeping is harder to clean at checkout. The sheets and towels still need to be the changed, the carpet vacuumed, etc.

    The difference between and easy to clean room and a hard to clean room is based on the quality of the guest. Probably all road warriors have stories of some really bad hotel guests.

  28. Sorry, but I call BS on:

    “But they have to do more cleaning after a guest has gone without for several days.”

    I simply respectfully disagree how this is true.

  29. Holy hyperbole, Batman
    Between the exaggerations on cleanliness issues and repeat unresolved concerns, the comments to this column can only be described as epic.
    Yo, 250 nights this year alone, through yesterdays 257th night…excellent. You spend all but one night a month in a hotel. Super efficient, that!
    No one will clean like you do. No one does. My wife doesn’t. And ya know what? I don’t clean like her, either. But my experience is that hotels are “relatively clean.” Not germ-free, but just like everywhere else. Airplanes. Airport kiosks. TSA trays. Who’s walking around with Clorox wipes and wearing surgery masks 24-7?
    Pick and choose where you’re gonna post your annoyances, ladies. This is much ado about nothing.

  30. This “green choice” option has been a scam from the get-go, as the only green the hotels care about is the money they save on housekeeping expenses. At least in the old SPG days they made the bribe big enough to tempt some guests.

  31. All sides look bad in this.

    Marriott. Everyone sees through the corporate nonsense. This has nothing to do with being green

    Unions adding hyperbole to the argument is also false. It doesn’t take longer to clean the room after a couple of days

    @ Adam. Your first world problems rant is epic. The level of ‘I am somebody of importance, just ask me’ in your post is spectacular. You can rectify your issues with the front desk rather than moan and swear at people

  32. My room is probably tidier the day I leave than during my stay! I highly doubt it is more time constraining to clean a room after it is vacated and all personal items are gone than the reverse.

  33. It’s hard to pick a side. I do believe the housekeepers should be able to do their jobs. Aren’t they also missing out on tips when they don’t clean rooms?

    It’s all about balance.

    Going green is nice, but it shouldn’t be used as a cover for companies to save money. Genuinely go green or don’t do it at all. And make sure that your workers are not being sacrificed at the expense at more money in only a few peoples pockets.

  34. I’m shocked at how @Adam leaves pretzel crumbs and food on the carpet and honey on his desk! I don’t know how he knows that acstain on the door is snotcfrom a sneeze (unless it was his) but that’s disgusting!

  35. I’m with @Thalia. It drove me crazy that housekeepers would tidy my room when I had laptop cords, papers, etc. exactly where I wanted them but they would put everything in a corner and tie my cords up. I also wipe switches, faucets, touch areas and hated the idea that a housekeeper might clean the room of someone sick with flu and then clean mine. So I started declining Housekeeping entirely. I now leave the DND on the entire stay. I miss out on chocolates for turn-down but it’s worth it. When I check-out I clean up any mess. All trash is in the bin, not out on surfaces. All dirty towels are on the bed or bathroom counter.

  36. When housekeeping actually keeps a room clean, I’ll start letting them in my room everyday.

    What really ticks me off is the number of points Marriott is giving for MAGC nowadays. To many readers’ comments, if we as guests are saving Marriott enough money to reduce overall headcount and hours, why are we not seeing the benefit of it. That’s the real shame here.

  37. As a hotel professional in California that works with nearly 60 hotels, there is a lot of “pressure” to become environmentally friendly. Areas of California have stage four droughts and residents and businesses are paying the price. This is a major reason hotels are incentivizing guests to “not throw in the towel.” However, brands are not requiring any guests to “be green.”

  38. I never use housekeeping because the housekeeping actually try to police your room at certain locations and do passive aggressive shit like try to get you in trouble for anything they can because they are poor and they don’t like seeing people have a good time usually; very much like an inferiority complex. I will never have housekeeping come and clean my room, you can always call guest services and have them send you up fresh towels and new sheets and I always do my bed myself. If I don’t feel like doing my bed I can always ask for another clean room and I would still get my green choice points.

  39. We took the points the last visit. Even with kids after a few days I cannot see that we make any more of a mess then normal daily cleaning. We keep the room pretty clean anyways (no eating on beds, etc etc) so even before points where not in a need of a daily clean. I can see how some people might be total slobs but I would hope the majority are not. I do wish it was more points

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