Allergy-Free HolidayPeople with allergies might look for the best allergy-free holiday destinations, to find some relief from their symptoms. For instance, the grass pollen season is earlier in the Mediterranean so going there in the summer has the dual benefit of holidaying in a relatively pollen-free atmosphere and avoiding the pollen season in the UK. Furthermore, dry climates, particularly at altitudes higher than 1,000 metres, are associated with very low levels of house dust mite allergens.

It's also possible to go a step further in seeking an allergy-free holiday – by choosing accommodation which is specially designed to deliver a high standard of air quality with a low allergen burden. Allergy-free hotel rooms have been around for a while but now the latest development is the allergy-free/friendly cruise ship. Some cruise companies have ultra-luxe hypoallergenic staterooms using a seven-stage air and surface purification process. The process comes from PURE Marine Solutions, which is part of a company that is specialised in developing hypoallergenic environments, like hotel rooms, for the hospitality industry.

The seven-step process used to produce hypoallergenic stateroom goes like this:
1. Deep Clean of Air Handling Unit. The heating and air conditioning in each room are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
2. Surface Clean. Every surface in the room, including furniture, curtains and carpet, is deep-cleaned and sanitised, using special vacuums.
3. High Ozone Shock Treatment. Particles, viruses, bacteria and odours are removed with advanced shock treatment.
4. Shield. A bacteriostatic barrier is applied everywhere in the room, which can block bacterial growth for up to two years.
5. Tea Tree Oil Cartridge. Tea tree oil is a natural antimicrobial disinfectant and the cartridge is placed in the room to maintain its sanitised environment.
6. Air Purification System. An allergy air purifier is installed in the room for 24-hour ongoing protection against allergens. The air purifier is medical grade and takes 100 per cent of microbes out of the air that passes through the system.
7. Allergy-friendly Bedding. Microfibre monofilament mattress and pillow encasements are used to protect from allergens like house dust mite as the room's occupants sleep.

The purification programme does not stop with the seven steps as housekeeping staff are trained to maintain the air quality in the rooms. Every six months, the rooms will be inspected by specialists to ensure that standards are being kept up.

The benefits of cruising in such a room could include:

  • fewer allergy symptoms like wheezing, coughing, sneezing and watery eyes
  • a better night's sleep
  • relaxation and recuperation that comes from breathing really fresh air
  • no cleaning chemical odours lingering in the room

A hypoallergenic room will be of particular benefit when allergy sufferers return to the ship after an offshore trip to a polluted city – say Bangkok or Rome – on a hot day. There is certainly a demand for this kind of development; a survey carried out by Cornell University in 2012 revealed that 62 per cent of respondents would pay more for an allergy-friendly environment (though some cruise lines offer this at no extra cost) and 81 per cent wanted to be informed by travel agents of the availability of such accommodation when they book their holiday.

Image: Crystal Cruises