Marriott Moving to Wall Dispensers in the Shower for Managed North American Hotels

Last month I wrote that I am not a fan of hotel toiletries coming out of wall mounted dispensers in the shower. They aren’t as clean and they don’t always get refilled. And of course you can’t take the toiletries with you!

I suppose for me they remind me of he motel off the freeway where my high school debate team used to stay in Bakersfield, California for out of town debate tournaments. The place had dispensers labeled “EuroBath” as thought that was supposed to make it feel exclusive.

I stayed at the same Marriott Courtyard two weeks in a row last month and was assigned the same room both times. My bath gel was empty throughout my first stay, and it was still empty a week later.

So you can imagine my joy at Marriott’s announcement today that the 450 North American hotels they manage will adopt this. There doesn’t appear to be any exemption for luxury brands.

Moving to refillable wall dispensers saves $1000 to $2000 per hotel, but is pitched as better for the environment “sav[ing] an average of 250 lbs. of plastic per year for a 140-room hotel—approximately 23,000 plastic bottles.” Although this doesn’t factor the extra cleaning that should be done on the dispensers themselves, if that ever happens.

Marriott reports their supplier Paul Mitchell — less desirable than THANN toiletries in my opinion — developed a bottle “with a window” so housekeeping can see when bottles need to be filled.

Here’s what we give up.

Here’s a National Institutes of Health study on bacterial contamination of bulk-soap-refillable dispensers.

Next they’ll promote reusing forks and spoons in the hotel restaurant and room service to protect the environment and reduce dishwasher detergent and energy consumption.

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. I’m sure they will be mounted low enough so that wheelchair users, like myself, can easily reach them. /sarcasm

    Their response will surely be “contact the front desk and we will provide individual bottles”, which demonstrates no understanding that disabled people don’t want to have to call for anything when checking in (like retrieving the bath mat that they hung on the shower curtain rod in an accessible room or, my favorite, calling for the handheld shower to be lowered from its high position in an accessible room). It should all be provided.

  2. This ruins the idea of people bringing their cosmetics home to remember their great experience at the hotel. I’m sure it saves a ton of money, but it loses a major touch point people have to properties.

  3. Wendy sad to inform you but these are currently being used more and more by the upper tier flags. Hyatt has been for awhile now, not as wide spread but surely it’s coming.

    If one travels in Europe you will encounter this more often than not

  4. @Joelfreak: Actually, it saves $1,000-$2,000 a year. In words, probably less than $0.00 per night.

  5. “Next they’ll promote reusing forks and spoons in the hotel restaurant and room service… ”
    I’m pretty sure that’s been in place for centuries at both high end and low end establishments 🙂

  6. Well… I have refilled travel nalgene bottles at Aloft, because for some reason I liked their shampoo/body wash (plus it’s gel, I was bouncing from hotel to hotel that week and didn’t feel like unwrapping soaps for a 1 night stay).

    Worst experience was at the Ibis in Cancun. Bottle of hand soap seemed to be about empty, so I left a note to the housekeeper saying the bottle was empty. She left a response on the back of the paper saying “sorry, it’s not empty, just gotta press harder”. So the next time I just stayed at a different hotel, one with shampoo bottles and hookers.

  7. Next step is they’re throw us some points for choosing rooms that housekeeping has not gotten around to cleaning yet.

  8. LOL @ saving $1-2k. Nevermind that people will pump a lot more product than before. I still think the select SPG hotels “points for no room service” is the way to go to save money. Cutting staff > saving on bath products.

  9. And countdown for an article about someone getting kicked out of a Marriott for refilling reusable bottles with bath liquids daily….

  10. @Wendy

    This will totally fly with the luxury brands. People will bitch and complain at first, but eventually just come to accept it. Sort of like paying for a checked bag. As someone mentioned: This is already very common in Europe. I can confirm that, even with the luxury brands.

    As a side note: Due to most loyalty programs being gutted and devalued, I’ve switched a lot of my recreational hotel bookings to AIRbnb and the like. That’s at least six weeks for me, often more. Keep on giving me reasons to avoid hotel chains….. And I will.

  11. I don’t like this. Econolodge or Rodeway Inn, ok, but not Marriott. Oh, Rodeway Inn doesn’t do this.

    I will stay at one of the Hilton brands for now. They have nice Neutrogena soap that I take home. Their shampoo is also decent. (Oh, Rodeway Inn shampoo isn’t so good.)

    Shame on you, Marriott.

  12. As much as I love hotel toiletries and take them home,, particularly from luxury brands, I’d be okay with this and am happy with the amount of plastics it would help save. Sometimes I’ve brought my own empty bottles to fill up at airport lounges (not ashamed to say that) especially when they carry L’Occitane or Aesop.

  13. that just looks nasty….I never really use the toiletries except occasionally the lotions but I do take them to donate to places like homeless shelters and women’s shelters…if any of you ever wonder what to do with the items you collect.
    I don’t know if it would be a deal breaker for me, but it certainly makes the hotel “feel” less luxurious and lower end so I think overall this will cost them some major money.

    As usual, corporations have a bunch of dumbasses working for them….they took minibars out of hotels in a lot of places, have taken coffee pots out and good luck finding hotels that actually have decent food and/or room service anymore! You have to spend a lot of money or points to get things that a generation ago were considered a given. I remember being a kid, staying at hotels that had nice restaurants, all the essentials and if it was missing, you only had to ask. Rooms had coffee pots so your parents could drink their coffee in peace, take their time getting dressed and getting the fam ready, head down to the restaurant, etc. or if you came in after a long day, you could order drinks & food until at least 10 or 11…there are now tons of hotels and they seem to have less and less every year unless you are somewhere that rooms svc is $30 for a burger 🙂

  14. ghosterider5408,

    I stay in European hotels multiple times each and every month over many years. The top end hotels in Europe don’t do what Marriott is attempting to do while exploiting environmental concerns to save itself money. Even in the Scandinavian countries’ capitals, the highest room rate properties still tend to have small plastic bottle toiletries in the bathroom that aren’t affixed to the wall.

  15. This is a major safety concern. What prevents someone from tampering with the dispensers. Best case scenario someone could add Nair to the shampoo and you loose your hair. Worst case someone adds acid and causes permanent damage.

  16. Not friendly to older folks who lose strength in their hands (or have arthritis) and just can’t squeeze those big bottles. And there are a lot of us…

  17. Further proof, yet again, and in a different industry than airlines, of why BIGGER companies who acquire competitors ONLY benefits the owners & shareholders at the expense of consumers.

    It really is time for consumers to stop buying into the myths peddled by slick corporate & political sales pitches that distort the truth about the reasons why, in the past, it was NECESSARY to implement and vigorously ENFORCE anti-trust laws/regulations.

    Or in the case more and more in industries like our airlines (ESPECIALLY), and perhaps others, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that very soon it will be necessary to take a page from a few of our better presidents, and actually force divestiture of assets/divisions from these anti-competitive behemoths.

    Bigger is NOT always better.

    Our current oligopolist managed airlines are doing an EXCELLENT JOB proving this…

    …and now, it appears the newly bulked up Marriott brands, along with the other too big hotel cartel members, are proving this reality too:

    Bigger is NOT always better – for consumers, that is…

    …but for sure it’s ALWAYS **ONLY BETTER** for those very fortunate few who own these companies…

    That’s why they’re cutting out far more hygienic toiletries and replacing them with communal ones that numerous scientific studies, including the one from the NIH, have revealed as being UNSANITARY…

    When/why did our country forget about the virtues of good ol’ basic, American COMPETITION, that we used to believe is what makes our lives better?

    When did we decide to become a kleoptocracy, plutocracy, oligarchical society that allows for a favored few to own virtually everything and divvy up the spoils amongst themselves?

    And when did we all decide to become so gullible and docile that we just roll over and play dead when they’re doing this?

    Yet more and more, the “gospel” of bigger being viewed as benign, and better, is actually revealing itself as the corrupt and toxic beast that it really is – and ALWAYS has been.

  18. The real impact of this is that guests will generally just have to start bringing their own soap and shampoo when they stay Marriott. Because there is no freaking way my wife is going to use the shampoo from a dispenser that has been freely accessible to every random stranger that passes through the hotel over the course of several weeks. You think a suspicious curly hair in your bed is problematic? What do you imagine some sicko is going to put in the shampoo dispenser? I don’t think any of us want to know. But I can’t wait for the first lawsuit to be filed over un-named “bodily fluids” in the body wash dispenser.

  19. You think this is bad? Wait til you see what they do to your Platinum status next week! Can you say D – E – V – A – L- U-A- T – I- O -N ?

  20. Gross, avoid Marriott in future.

    @ghostrider5408 it’s definitely not the case in Europe “more often than not” any decent upper tier hotel in Europe (and all the major chains) still give individual toiletries. Personally I have also never seen this at a Hyatt.

  21. This is a terrible idea. The germ spreading issue is just one element, let alone paying $200+ a night, getting in a 2 AM and finding out the bottle is empty for your 5 AM shower. This Platinum Marriott member was never asked what I thought about this Motel6 style “service enhancement” of Arne’s. If y’all are worried about plastic shampoo bottles ending up in the ocean, use the blue recycling bin in the room. One more Marriott new nickel & diming trick to save $1k/per year for a 200+ room hotel?

  22. We stayed at a Homewood Suites during their opening week. They were in and out of the rooms finishing last minute touches but forgot Do Not Disturb cards on our floor till I asked. The manager did ask why we were using our own liquid soap and hand sterilizer. LOL. This remains our operating policy for automobile trips or International trips involving checked baggage.

  23. @Felipe you just might have figured out how we can push back against this. Buy Nalgene travel bottles and fill em up whenever you go to a hotel. My guess is enough people do this and hotels are actually going to see their toiletries costs go up instead of down. I’ll be sure to order a handful.

  24. First time I see this at a Ritz is the last time I stay at one. They’ve already almost pushed me away with removing minibars in many properties. Marriott & Renaissance are already unstayable because of the room service in a bag with plastic cutlery concept and millenialized room redesigns. Ugh. Race to the bottom.

  25. Why is Marriott working so hard to make me hate them. I just switched my 100+ nights a year to them from IHG this year. They are set to announce new “improved” loyalty levels and now this. What’s next, chaining the remote to the night stand?

  26. Why not just throw a small ad on the bottles for whatever and subsidize the price of the toiletries so save that huge $1k-$2k a year per hotel.

  27. Why not switch to paper boxes? Seriously, they have done it for water and other liquids.

  28. Typical Marriott….nickel and dime merchants. If pennies were still made of copper, they would shave them before handing them back out as change. $1,500 on average per hotel * 450 hotels is $675k saved overall, not a small sum. How much business will they lose as a result? Probably not that much. Too bad that there are few/no alternative choices where I travel…

  29. >James:
    >This is a major safety concern. What prevents someone from tampering with the dispensers. Best case scenario someone could add Nair to the shampoo and you loose your hair. Worst case someone adds acid and causes permanent damage.

    If only there were some way for the property to know who stayed in your room before you did.

    That said, I am also against communal toiletries. Makes me feel like a cost center instead of a valued guest.

  30. What if someone puts bleach or acid in the dispenser?

    Sure hope my future hotels are near Dollar Tree, so I can get some toiletries for the duration of my stay.

  31. Some of these comments are making me laugh. I sale a name brand shower amenities.
    Here are some of the funniest ones I have heard so far.
    People putting body fluids in them.
    LOL, if the person does get the cover off, they will destroy the dispenser, there is no way to put something in the sealed cartridge, the reservoir only holds .7ml.
    The dispenser has germs all over it from everybody touching it. How about the door knob, how about the dispenser at the lobby restroom. How about the front door handle.
    Lets just pump it all into a bottle, so that they will be losing money.
    First off Popeye, it will take you your whole stay to empty one of ours. They last about 6 to 7 weeks. The tourist area that we are in loves them.
    As for your housekeeper not replacing the cartridges, well sorry but that is just a lazy housekeeper, not the fault of the dispenser.
    Now that I have said what I wanted to say, I will sit back and let keyboard warriors take over.

  32. Seriously, doesn’t anyone care about all those plastics? Read this to get some perspective. Yes, hotels should have locked, clean, topped off dispensers with quality products inside. Some hotel owners actually care about these things. If you’re so freaked out about germs on cleansers, for Pete’s sake, you probably shouldn’t even be staying in a hotel and sleeping on, gasp, common products shared by other humans. Or bring your own darned shampoo.

  33. This is right up there with Marriott banning the use of straws at their properties….This is simply a way to save money and to hell with the customer. Studies have shown that straws represent .02% of plastic trash and many disabled people need straws to drink from.
    Shame on Marriott!

  34. This is right up there with resort fees a in the middle of New York City…They simply don’t give a damn about frequent stayers and are willing to push us to the line; because they realize ‘where will they go’?

    SHAMEFUL to all who do this.

  35. Not just Marriott now. I just stayed at Hilton riverside in New Orleans and the shampoo and conditioner were in those refillable wall dispensers.

  36. I read the article you posted but it does not appear to be totally applicable to your argument.
    There is no mention of hotel or motel use of dispensers in shower spaces, only “public restrooms” which would mean places like restaurant, mall and gas station bathrooms where the study found “approximately one in four dispensers in public restrooms are contaminated.” That means 75 percent are UNcontaminated.

    The study also specified the units where the soap is poured directly inside the unit as opposed to dispensers that have BAGS of soap inserted which would be way cleaner.

    In a hotel/motel setting, we can all agree that ALL surfaces of the bathroom should be wiped down, including the soap dispensers. Not to say this always happens, but folks, you’re staying in a hotel where someone else was sleeping and living in there the night before. All surfaces have been contaminated and all surfaces should be wiped down using a hospital grade virucide type cleaner.

    Also, if you are so dependent on getting the little freebie soaps, yikes. You need to get a hobby. LOL. There are so many more joys to life than taking home a half used bar of soap and a container of conditioner that you probably won’t use anyway. If you didn’t use it at the hotel, you won’t use it at home.

    Too much single use plastic is an issue and I, for one, am willing to make some small sacrifices to do my part to keep the plastic discards down to a minimum. It’s kind of like wearing a mask – no biggie.

  37. Hugely in favor of this move and I think that all hotels should follow. Millions of amenity bottles flood landfills per year. It is evident from some of these comments that several individuals do not believe that we should preserve and protect our environment. I have several Airbnb Condos and we are moving to wall units in all of them. It is the right thing to do, versus making guests bring their own bath amenities and not offering anything at all, except a comfy bed and a roof over your head.

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