To Combat the Threat of Coronavirus, The Westin Houston Medical Center Deploys Robots to Disinfect Guest Rooms

The room disinfection technology was developed by two epidemiologists in Houston, with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as their first customer.
By HTN Staff - 3.15.2020

Imagine a future when robots will use intense germicidal UV light to disinfect rooms by quickly destroying microscopic bacteria and viruses that may be missed during the manual cleaning process. The robots will use pulsed xenon (a noble gas) to create intense broad-spectrum UV light, unlike older technologies that use mercury bulbs (mercury is toxic) to create continuous, single spectrum UV light.

At one hotel, in Houston, Texas, the future has arrived and the robots, dubbed LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robots, are now a reality. The Westin Houston Medical Center is the first (and, so far, the only) hotel in the United States to put the robots to use in sanitizing and disinfecting its guest rooms and common areas to help combat the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The room disinfection technology, provided by San Antonio, Texas-based Xenex Disinfection Services, was developed by two epidemiologists in Houston, with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as their first customer. The Westin Houston Medical Center has purchased two of the decontaminating robots, which are now at work sanitizing rooms inside the building.

LightStrike robots have been proven to quickly destroy viruses, bacteria, and fungi using intense pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light. The robots have been successfully used in the past to disinfect healthcare facility rooms. In fact, according to press statements, several hospitals have published peer-reviewed studies showing 50 to 100 percent reductions in their Clostridium difficile (C.diff), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and surgical site infection (SSI) rates after they used the robots and recommended protocols for room disinfection.

“We are taking significant proactive measures, along with following CDC guidelines, to minimize risk while also keeping day-to-day business momentum,” said Archit Sanghvi, Vice President of Operations for Pearl Hospitality, the hotel’s owner and operator. “Wellness is at the core of our business and with the LightStrike technology, we saw a distinct and innovative opportunity to create a well-prepared environment for travelers within our hotel.”

In addition to utilizing cutting-edge robotic room disinfection technology, The Westin Houston Medical Center is implementing a number of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols as is the case with a fast-growing number of the world’s hotels in response to the current public health crisis.

These include:

  • All public areas and guestrooms are disinfected using hospital-grade cleaner.
  • All guest room consumable amenities (bath amenities, coffee & tea) and items such as the remote control are disinfected on-site and placed in sealed bags for guests.
  • Removal of all non-essential (magazines, collateral, decorative pillows, etc.) items in guest rooms to ensure a continually clean, disinfected environment.
  • Disinfectant cleaning protocols in all areas of the hotel including public areas, guest rooms and back of house areas (i.e. kitchen, etc.)
  • Dedicated team member to use enhanced sanitization methods on all guest-facing public areas – 24 hours coverage.

The newly opened 273-room Westin Houston Medical Center is situated in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, which attracts more than 15 million annual visitors. It’s no surprise that a hotel associated with a world-renown medical center would be the first to utilize the new robotic technology. In conjunction with other technologies, the LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robots may become widely adopted by hoteliers as yet another way to help their employees and guests stay healthy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related: For Hoteliers, the COVID-19 Health Crisis May Be an Opportunity to Focus on Technology Improvement