Hawthorn Suites/Wyndham

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Mar 16, 2019
My business partner and I stayed at Hawthorne Suites in West Palm Beach, Florida in February 2019. We were working in Palm Beach and needed an overnight stay to return to finish our work the next morning. I was surprised to find a $250 charge to my credit card after our stay. When I contacted the hotel, the front desk receptionist informed me that I had been charged a smoking fee and that they had pictures of our trash cans that supposedly had evidence of smoking. She also indicated the housekeeping staff reported a smell of smoke. Well, neither of us ever smoked in the room and I was flabbergasted at what I perceived as a shakedown, of sorts. I asked to speak to the manager of the hotel and was transferred to her. I asked her to send us a copy of the pictures the hotel was referencing to justify the erroneous charges. At first the manager refused, citing that the pictures were “hotel property”. I indicated that I was very upset and confused by the situation, especially because it seemed we were being stolen from. The manager told me she would email my business partner, who’s email was on file at the Hawthorn suites. We received an email detailing their smoking policy, which were aware of before we checked into the room anyway, but there were no pictures sent.

We were on a work trip and would never violate hotel policy. I have disputed the charges with my credit card company, and the dispute is in it’s second level, that is, Hawthorn did respond with pictures that are, according to the credit card company, very unclear. In fact, the credit card company representative in the disputes department said she could only see a Perrier water bottle in a trash can. The credit card company has asked for more information from Hawthorn Suites, they have less than 39 days to respond at this point.

I read an earlier article by Elliot in the Chicago Tribune where he resolved the same issue for someone else involving a Marriot hotel. He talked about contacting executives at the company as a way to resolve this situation. Since I’ve already disputed the charges with my credit card company and the hotel has responded to the dispute, is it advisable to contact the executives at Wyndham company about this issue? Will the CEO and CEO of administration really care about this at all or be able to help? I’d really appreciate some expert input on this situation.

Thank you for this site - it is really fantastic. I appreciate any help on this!

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Unfortunately, you shouldn’t have filed a dispute yet, that’s the last thing you should do.

The article usually tells you how to fight these charges. Which is to use our Contacts and write to the corporate offices using the instructions in this:


At this point you really have to wait and see what happens with the chargeback. If it’s not granted, then you can start writing using that thread.
Apr 3, 2016
I assume at least one of you is a smoker that smoked outside of the room/hotel. Smokers can bring lingering odors on their persons into the hotel room. This in turn can amount to a smoke cleaning charge if the hotel smells the odor. While it might not be fair, the only real way to ensure that you are not charged the smoking fee is to not smoke at all while the hotel room (or rental car) is in your possession.


Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
Maui Hawaii
" neither of us ever smoked in the room ". This statement implies that one or both of you are smokers. As a smoker, your sense of smell is desensitized to the smell of smoke that is carried on your clothes wherever you go. If you sat on an upholstered chair or on the bed you will have transferred the smell, and possibly ashes to the room leaving a residual smell of smoke that is readily apparent to a non-smoker with a reasonable sense of smell.
If housekeeping smelled smoke in the room from your clothing they will need to clean the room and appropriately charge you for same. The same will apply to a rental car.
Google "Locard's exchange principle"
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Sep 19, 2015
well I have mixed feelings about this --first of all I am sensitive to smells in enclosed spaces (smoke, perfume, incense) and have a strong sense of smell -- mostly an issue of what bothers me -- I do not have any life threatening allergies or reactions -- so it is not a health related just something that bothers me. I also dislike overly perfumed detergents, lotions etc.

But .... in terms of work travels, especially in foreign countries, I come across people of varied backgrounds and often I talk to them in their homes -- and many of them smoke. Now the truth is that I am the one that needs something -- usually information, to look at old documents etc, but they are doing me a favor -- so I am not going to complain -- so there are times I go back to my hotel room (where smoking is prohibited by law and hotels can and do charge a fine) and I am sure that I smelled of smoke. Once I missed the last train back to the city (oops my fault completely) and someone gave me a ride so I would not be stranded -- and they smoked in the car -- an older sub sub compact (Lancia over two decades old) so it was a small space. I was pretty umm "fragrant" once I got back to the hotel -- to put it mildly -- but as the old saying goes, beggars cannot be choosers.

Should I be fined because I transferred smoke? For being around smokers?

On my last London trip (earlier this year) I had to wait out a bad dump of rain and wind after exiting Paddington Station. And one of exit areas with an overhang is also the designated smoking area -- so not only did I smell a bit but I also ended up with chewing gum and cigarette butts on the bottom of my shoe. Ugh. Back in the hotel I got rid of the garbage on my shoe as I was packing for departure the next day. After reading this forum I went back to the garbage and took tissue and removed the butts and gum from the bathroom garbage and left the hotel to dump this in a garbage can on the street so I would not be charged because of 'evidence'.

I find this issue of "transferring smells" problematic as it is something that could happen to me. If that is the case, the hotel should say "no smokers allowed or anyone that has fraternized with smokers".

Did housekeeping notice the smell during the stay or afterwards?

I am curious as to why the hotel will not send a photo of the evidence. I would think that would be normal, whether for a hotel damage or car rental damage.

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
And that’s where the hotel is wrong. They said they had proof - so send it. They are going to have to send it now that a dispute has been filed.

Remember the story awhile ago about the cigarette “proof” that was faked by the hotel- the writer looked at the photo the hotel sent and saw paperwork for someone else behind the ashtray picture. And if I remember when they looked carefully the dates on the paperwork it was a couple of days either before or after the dates the consumer stayed.

That’s why I am always suspect when the hotel refuses to send “proof”.
Jan 6, 2015
Based upon the clothing transfer statements here, I researched a bit and found that Febreze FABRIC Heavy Duty Crisp Clean is highly rated for removing the smell of smoke. Alternative is regular Febreze, with either sprayed directly on the clothing.

At least that's my reading of what I found. Should be easy to obtain in most USA cities I expect . . .
Apr 23, 2018
A No Smoking policy means No Smoking. It should not mean you are obligated to do everything humanely possible to ensure that an odor that might be interpreted as smoking enters your room. If it did, one consequence would be that hotels would have to prohibit their housekeeping employees from smoking anytime, anywhere, on or off the job, and of course this is something they cannot do.