Even in one of the most polluted cities in the world, the air at the Fairmont Beijing hotel is always clean – all 222 rooms have been fitted with Blueair air purifiers.

Clean air is a precious commodity in many parts of the world. On a bad day in Beijing, the air quality index may well be over 300 PM 2.5, which is downright hazardous. Inside the Fairmont Beijing hotel, however, it’s seldom above 20. In fact, it’s often in the single digits, according to Michael Ganster, general manager at the luxury hotel.

Under AccorHotels’ sustainable development programme Planet 21, the partnership with Blueair aims to enhance the experience and wellbeing of guests at Fairmont Beijing. The 222-room hotel is in the Central Business District, which means a lot of corporate customers who expect a high standard of comfort and service. All of the rooms and public spaces have Blueair air purifiers. First-time visitors to Beijing will notice the poor air quality immediately. “If you’re sensitive to it, it’s like hay fever. When you come back to the hotel, you can feel the difference. It’s a sanctuary from the outside,” Ganster says. “Guests are extremely positive towards the Blueair Zone.” In the world of luxury hotels, where high-tech gadgets, elegant interiors and excellent service is paramount, it seems that clean air can also go a long way in attracting guests.

“We are already seeing a high number of returning guests and the Blueair Zone is a big contributing factor alongside the outstanding service we offer at Fairmont Beijing. Furthermore, our guest satisfaction keeps rising and our TripAdvisor ranking is improving. We see ourselves as trendsetters. In the future, clean air will be a basic expectation for guests at luxury hotels.” Not only does better air quality mean fully booked conference centres and a superior dining experience, it also means a better workout. “You’re expanding your lungs, getting as much air in there as possible, and it has to be good quality. Our guests are willing to pay about 10 times more for a gym membership here,” Ganster says.

According to Ganster, several hotels in Beijing have air purifiers, but they are connected to the air conditioning. Equipping rooms with their own air purifiers was a conscious decision by the hotel, so guests could see for themselves the green light indicating that the filters are working. Beijing’s notoriously poor air quality may be improving. Ganster has been the general manager at Fairmont Beijing since 2012 and he’s noticed a difference. “My personal assessment is a 180-degree turnaround. The Chinese government has worked hard to improve air quality, including moving a lot of factories out of the city. In 2012 there were at least 20 days when you couldn’t even see the sky. Now it’s blue. Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s no pollution, but at least it’s improved.”

As for design trends, Ganster says the emphasis is still on sleek, minimalist interiors. The open-room concept continues to be popular as a way to maximize space for guests. “For example, you pass through the dressing room to get to the bathroom. The aim is to create an airy feeling. But as much as hotels see the importance of design for the well-being and comfort of their guests, few actually offer the clean indoor air that might be expected of them.” Ganster knows from personal experience how important an air purifier is for a rejuvenating stay in Beijing. “I have a Blueair air purifier in my bedroom at home – and I get a very good night’s sleep.”