Marriott’s Move to Bulk Toiletries is Already a Disaster

Hotels encourage you to fly out for a visit while claiming to be going green by ditching plastic toiletries in favor of cost-saving bulk shampoo and conditioner – when if they cared about guest experience and the environment they would stick with single use biodegradable packages.

Marriott is moving to bulk toiletries worldwide by the end of next year. However we’re already seeing the problem for guests with this strategy. There are three basic issues.

  • They don’t get refilled properly and when they do get refilled hotels are more likely to use counterfeit products.
  • They’re germ magnets. They simply aren’t sanitized by housekeeping. Here’s a National Institutes of Health study on bacterial contamination of bulk-soap-refillable dispensers.
  • And guests have been known to put stuff in them you wouldn’t want there. Even where there have been safeguarding locks in place I’ve had rooms where those weren’t locked.

I stayed at a Marriott Courtyard last year where the shampoo was empty. I stayed at the same property a week later, assigned to the same room, and the shampoo was still empty.

One Marriott guest shared an experience much worse.

At this property, in the shower are three large toiletry bottles – soap, shampoo and conditioner. After using them for several days it was noticed that the soap bottle had the tamper proof bracket removed. On closer inspection, the bottle was filled mostly with water, and what looked like semen. This bottle was then compared to with the soap in the other room and it was very evidently tampered with. …

The bottle was taken to the front desk, and the associate was horrified and sent up a replacement bottle, and arranged an opportunity to meet with a manager in the morning. In the morning, a manager offered his sincerest apologies, as well as 5000 points and the option to switch rooms. He also said he needed to investigate further and meet with the team. The hotel is in possession of the bottle.

I don’t know what the substance was in the bulk toiletry and it really doesn’t matter. That these get tampered with in practice should be enough to stop the project in its tracks. And 5000 Marriott points as an apology for this is genuinely offensive. How can the hotel expect to charge for a room that is so poorly cared for by housekeeping, and that jeopardizes a guest’s health by allowing the toiletries to be compromised in this way?

Two years ago someone replaced the soap in dispensers at the Detroit airport with a disgusting bodily fluid making this the most easily predictable – and predicted – consequence of bulk toiletries imaginable.

Don’t tell me this is the price we’re expected to pay for the environment when hotels have the option to provide single use biodegradable packaging for toiletries instead of unsanitary bulk packaging.

(HT: Reid F.)

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. One off case, I have had no issues it is fine and Holiday Inn does the same…

    There are more bodily fluids on the downtown streets of American cities these days with all the homeless.

    5000 pts I weak for a one off situation, room night should be comped.

    Also have we all forgotten on their massive data breach? I wouldn’t stay there on that issue as they have not followed up to their customers to confirm improvements to their data of customer reservation information. Instead they launched dynamic hotel point bookings, and knock off to Airbnb, and this.

  2. Ridiculous and DIRTY CHEAP policy. Bring Back MinI Toiletries… CRAZY posts from Tree hugging green folks are just plain dumb. Instead of banning straws why dont you ban all plastic in your own homes and throw away your bins, garden hoses, cleaning products, appliances, picnic utensils, and more? Cmon, your “every little bit counts” mantra is getting old. Tell that to China India and Russia…the biggest abusers. Marriotts policy is cheap, dumb, anti consumer and DISLOYAL to members…especially to Titanium and Ambassador members like myself. Just take home the towels then each visit as a protest. Use them fir dish rags.

  3. @Birny said: “Whether you agree or disagree with environmentalists, they haven’t systematically murdered millions of people.” The environmentalists banned DDT in 1972 and have been systematically restricting alternative pesticides. From Yahoo answers: “It is estimated that since DDT was banned in 1972, more than 96 million people have died of malaria, a disease that had almost been eradicated in the 1960s.” Just saying.

  4. Marriott is the worst hotel company, it try imposing new thing just for hack of changes they don’t look into nitty and gritty of consumer point of view staff working this bitching company is leaving for good…this company is going to doom….

  5. @OtherJustSaying
    Taken directly from Breitbart ? ( Breitbart lists Rachel Carson with Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot).In any case, certainly from the Fruitcake Fringe. The issue with DDT was in its application, ie, the utterly absurd way in it was used as a cure all: kill everything. Malarial mosquitoes were already developing resistance to it at the time of the ban. Probably you’re one of those disappointed by the asbestos bans given it was so cheap and effective.
    There’s a huge irony in the inane ramblings of the Trumpster loonies: they bemoan the DDT bans but deny climate change and the FACT that malaria is going to spread even more widely as a consequence of that change, including to Sydney by 2050 or so.

  6. Man a lot of hate in the comments. I always find it ironic when someone pulls a comment from a story, takes it entirely out of context, and then bashes the entire article based on their false context.

    That aside I stayed in a high dollar Residence Inn last week for a meeting and they had the dispensers. After shampooing and conditioning I went for the soap and it was out. So whoever was saying there’s “no new data to support the headline”, there’s your new data.

    Not the end of the world, but it does get under my skin that Marriott is trying to hide a cost-cutting measure by virtue-signaling.

  7. I can attest to the problem of bulk refill. I stayed in Residence Inn at WTC last year for a week and during the entire week, the shower gel was empty! That was despite my 2 reminders that it should be filled up.
    2 weeks ago I was at the Towneplace Hawthorne again with the same problem. I wonder who’s been stealing the soap. It is not fair to put the blame on the guest. Perhaps we should start packing our soap in the future.

  8. People do horrible things no matter where you stay. I always bring my own soap,and lotion. Housekeeping need to step up a little to make sure they are sealed tight and refilled when needed. We need them to do there job better and I understand their pay is low, but they knew this when they accepted the job. Do more receive better tips.

  9. Nasty. My first thought was some dude is going to jzz in the bottle and of course there it is, the first thing that happened. There are plenty of recyclable or biodegradable containers they could use.

  10. This is a tertible article.
    Why? Finally there is done something against environmental pollution, where by good reasons, many folks are complaining. Instead to add addutional activities or give them some merits – other people stand up and start complaining again about possibilities. Personally I want to aid that if everybody will take action and stop complaining a big piece of the problem will be solved. Me? Of course I started …

  11. I can attest to the problem of bulk refill. I stayed in Residence Inn at WTC last Nov for a week and during the entire week, the shower gel was empty! That was despite my 2 reminders that it should be filled up.
    2 weeks ago I was at the Towneplace Hawthorne again with the same problem. I wonder who’s been stealing the soap. It is not fair to put the blame on the guest. Perhaps we should start packing our soap in the future.

  12. How great will it be for the environment when we all check a bag and add weight to the plane, because women can’t get by with the tiny bag of itsy bitsy soaps we’re allowed to carry on? Ridiculous. I work events/ promotions where I watch them give out thousands and thousands of plastic tcotchkes that go straight in the trash.. sunglasses, reusable water bottles, tote bags no one wants at the end of a day. But we should all share liquids that go on your face and body in a time when everyone is a pervert and a prankster.

  13. I stayed in Four Points Sacramento on Friday night and the conditioner wasn’t refilled. It’s just going to get worse.

  14. Bring your own toiletries. Ask for a credit for not using the hotel products due to concerns of contamination.

  15. The only option is to bring your own toiletries. Especially with states now outlawing mini bottles.

    The only place I’ve used bulk toiletry bottles has been in high end spas where attendants immediately clean after each use.

  16. @Paolo. You threw a lot of ad hominem attacks my way. Put a lot of words in my mouth that I did not say. Attributed my comments to a hated news source that you want to ban. Tied it into the President. Typical anti-fact condescending liberal. Enjoy your bubble.

    Yea, I grew up being taught that Rachel Carson was like the Bible. Save the planet, save the whales, save the bees, save the trees, worship Rachel Carson, ban DDT. Rachel Carson’s book was a very emotional appeal based on analogy rather than science. In other words, pseudo-science. At the time they banned DDT, EPA studies said that DDT was safe and there was no need to ban it. Yet EPA head, William D. Ruckelshaus banned it anyway for political reasons. Politicized-science and pseudo-science are a chicken and egg type of thing. Hey, I have an idea. Let’s call it FAKE SCIENCE.

    Further, at the time they banned DDT, the EPA stated that there were perfectly viable alternatives. In other words, typical lie: zero cost banning: pure halo building. Actually, all the alternative were worse than DDT. Then they banned or restricted those alternatives. The environazis are still working hard to ban the remaining pesticides.

    Most of the current bug infestation, would be controllable with better pesticides like DDT. To take this a step further, the remaining pesticides are controlling pests that would otherwise kill the food the world eats. Banning all pesticides would cause mass starvation. Yet environazis are working towards such a ban. If they achieved such a ban, they will celebrate, while the world starved. Just like they celebrated while people died of malaria, mostly in third world countries. Just like the lefties celebrated when they prevented Nixon from entering Cambodia to prevent the communist idealist Pol Pot from taking over. Aren’t environazis wonderful?

    Some other things environazis are against.
    –Fossil fuels which makes modern day civilization possible.
    –All plastic, which is a subset of banning all fossil fuels.
    –Bio-engineered crops (which can make the use of pesticides less necessary).
    –Dogs and other pets, because they are not carbon neutral.
    –Electromagnetic waves (read cell phones and 5G) because they might cancer.
    –Humans because there are too many of them.
    –Babies because they are little humans. In fact, some environazis openly talk about forced sterilization of lower classes and poor people, especially in third world countries, to reduce population levels to sustainable levels.
    –Actually, the list of things environazis want to get rid of is almost infinite.

    The environazi’s are Luddites of the worst kind. This type of movement has been in history forever. Sir Thomas More wanted to kill all the sheep in England in the 15th century because the wool industry was destroying the natural order of life, ie subsistence farming. He wrote a book entitled “The Utopia”. He was sainted, got a real halo, if you believe such things.

    If evironnazis/luddites ever got ultimate power in the world, people would die: In the billions.

  17. I always bring my own face soap and small travel size of bath gel and shampoo. Don’t need to use theirs so if they disappeared, would not bother me. Some people take them (sometimes also off the housekeeping cart) to use in charity packages for homeless and veterans.

  18. Think this is the exact reason why I don’t use any of the hotel’s toiletries.. even the mini bottles I’m a little skeptical of, considering you can’t see inside them till you use it. Probably the bar of soap is the only thing that ever gets used when I stay.
    If I’m checking a bag, I pack my own shampoo, washcloth, and bar of soap… if I’m travelling carryon only, I’ll stop by a local pharmacy or supermarket and buy a small set of toiletries.

    I could be a bit paranoid, but in today’s world, a little bit of extra caution can go a long way.

  19. @Other Just Saying is a true example of fake news and cognitive dissonance. S/he decries ad hominen attacks while engaging in numerous such attacks. S/he presents conspiracy theories as facts. From Wikipedia with references to actual scientific research:

    Criticism of restrictions on DDT use

    A few people and groups have argued that limitations on DDT use for public health purposes have caused unnecessary morbidity and mortality from vector-borne diseases, with some claims of malaria deaths ranging as high as the hundreds of thousands[132] and millions.[133] Robert Gwadz of the US National Institutes of Health said in 2007, “The ban on DDT may have killed 20 million children.”[134] These arguments were rejected as “outrageous” by former WHO scientist Socrates Litsios.[102] May Berenbaum, University of Illinois entomologist, says, “to blame environmentalists who oppose DDT for more deaths than Hitler is worse than irresponsible”.[102] More recently, Dr. Michael Palmer, a professor of chemistry at the University of Waterloo, has pointed out that DDT is still used to prevent malaria, that its declining use is primarily due to increases in manufacturing costs, and that in Africa, efforts to control malaria have been regional or local, not comprehensive.[135]
    The question that … malaria control experts must ask is not “Which is worse, malaria or DDT?” but rather “What are the best tools to deploy for malaria control in a given situation, taking into account the on-the-ground challenges and needs, efficacy, cost, and collateral effects—both positive and negative—to human health and the environment, as well as the uncertainties associated with all these considerations?”

    Hans Herren & Charles Mbogo[136]

    Criticisms of a DDT “ban” often specifically reference the 1972 United States ban (with the erroneous implication that this constituted a worldwide ban and prohibited use of DDT in vector control). Reference is often made to Silent Spring, even though Carson never pushed for a DDT ban. John Quiggin and Tim Lambert wrote, “the most striking feature of the claim against Carson is the ease with which it can be refuted”.[137]

    Investigative journalist Adam Sarvana and others characterize these notions as “myths” promoted principally by Roger Bate of the pro-DDT advocacy group Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM).[138][139]

  20. @Greg’s idea of asking for a toiletry credit is a good one. If enough frequent travelers do this, it will become a pain in the ass for hotel front desk operations and perhaps they will move back to small packages toiletries. Otherwise, expect hotels to use “green environmentalism” as justification for cutting back on services. What’s next? Do we bring our own clean sheets?

  21. Even though my husband and I are Marriott Elite members, we have decided to leave the Marriott family. There have just been so many changes over the last year or so and now every time you try to book online, they up the amount of points needed and up the price between website visits. The room that I was looking at went from 35000 points to 55000 in less than an hour after logging out and logging back in. Then, they told me I couldn’t use my free night certificate because it wasn’t available at that time, even though it was available the hour before. Also, the price had jumped from $184 to $289 in less than an hour! I can’t believe what’s happening to the Marriott company. Not only are we switching our Marriott credit cards, we will rarely stay in Marriotts ever again due to their recent dishonest practices. So DISAPPOINTED!

  22. Every major religion, along with ethical humanists, value kindness and enhancing the common good. The so-called libertarians who oppose much needed government regulations to save our planet and make it hospitable for everyone, regardless of income and geography, espouse ideas that are inherent to the philosophy of Ayn Rand: selfish to the core. Everyone of good will needs to oppose libertarian policies that undermine the common good and destroy our planet by worshiping the unregulated use of fossil fuels and plastics and idolizing those wealthy evil doers who, being financially invested in such, use their wealth power to directly and through various co-opted fronts to further their cause.

  23. Not wading into any controversy about environmentalism, however, the scientist in me just has to respond. There is no chicken/egg controversy. The egg came first but it wasn’t laid by a chicken.

  24. @Birny. I find Wikipedia handy, but it is hardly reliable, and definitely far left leaning. In any case, I have been following the DDT issue before 1972 and do not need left wing sites to program my brain with talking points. Rachel Carson was just a purveyor of pseudo-science. Junk science is promoted 24/7. Everyday there is a new story. It was politicized-science that led to DDT and other effective pesticides being banned or restricted.

    WTH. if DDT was not banned, the New York Times could use it to get rid of their bed bug problem. Instead, they have to run around with a dog and try to find a bedbug area and freeze it. If they miss one bedbug area in the whole building, they have to repeat the process in couple of months. If they actually get rid of the bed bugs, when they interview another liberal lunatic that has not washed in a month, about how evil Trump is, and whoops, bedbug problems are back. Start over.

    BTW. One such loony leftist is Ira Einhorn was the founder of Earthday. According to friends, his apartment had a really weird smell that he was proud of. He even taught at University of Pennsylvania. So one day, he goes out and kills his girlfriend. Puts her body in his apartment. It rotted for 18 months in his apartment, but nobody noticed because his apartment smelled too bad anyway. This is the type of expert that goes to the New York Times and causes bedbugs, which they cannot get rid of because they have gotten rid of pesticides.

    @VaCavalier. Are you watermelon? You sure sound like one.

  25. @NoOne. No argument here. However, I totally believe a non-turkey was running around, got radiated, and then transformed into a turkey. Then she laid the first turkey egg. So in the case of the chicken, the egg came first. But in the case of the turkey, definitely the turkey came first.

  26. You travelers are nightmares for hotels. Honestly asking for a credit because you didn’t use the soap. And you “elite” members have a sense of entitlement that makes me sick to my stomach. All point programs should be eliminated. Trust me you make hotel staff hate the public.

  27. Aloft has had “bulk” toiletries forever and I’ve had zero problem with them. It helps that they’re actually good products. Bulk means I’m not twisting and squeezing single use containers six ways from Sunday to get the last drops out. Perfectly happy with the move to apply this to the greater brand

  28. I work for a Marriott hotel and at the front desk and when a guest needs a refill or replaced item. I have a special key to unlock the locked in products. They are brand new never been open till I get to room. We don’t refill them that Takes to long to refill. Plus we buy cases of each item. If there is any product left I leave the bottle and let the guest use it up. Other wise the bottles get thrown away.

  29. I stayed at Mama Cuchara in Quito recently. Their bulk items are in clear containers, so you can see what is in them and how much is left. Used the shampoo and conditioner and both seemed fine. And they wait until they are empty to replace them – both shampoo and conditioner were down to maybe 20% full. Not Marriott affiliated but effort seems to be working at least at this hotel.

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