First Hotel in Country to Deploy Virus Killing Robots

The Westin Houston Medical Center Pioneers Hospitality Industry’s Response to COVID-19

Houston, TX – March 12, 2020 – The Westin Houston Medical Center is the first and only hotel in the U.S. to utilize LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robots™ to sanitize and disinfect its guest rooms and common areas to help combat the threat of coronavirus.

The room disinfection technology, provided by San Antonio-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 purchased two of the decontaminating Robots, which are already 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. Hundreds of healthcare facilities use LightStrike Robots to disinfect their facilities as part of their comprehensive infection prevention program and several hospitals have published peer-reviewed studies showing 50%-100% reductions in their Clostridium difficile (C.diff), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and surgical site infection (SSI) rates after they used LightStrike Robots and Xenex’s 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.”

The LightStrike Robot uses intense germicidal UV light to disinfect rooms by quickly destroying microscopic bacteria and viruses that may be missed during the manual cleaning process. Operated by hotel staff, the Robot uses 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.

Dr. Sarah Simmons, Xenex Senior Director of Science, DrPH CIC FAPIC, said, “Xenex is honored that The Westin Houston Medical Center has invested in LightStrike Robots to provide a superior level of cleaning for its guests. Our LightStrike Germ Zapping Robots have been successfully used for years to disinfect healthcare facility rooms, and we are glad to be able to work with Pearl Hospitality to provide that same level of cleanliness to hotel guests.”

Along with utilizing cutting-edge robotic room disinfection technology, The Westin Houston Medical Center is implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols including:

  • All public areas and guestrooms are disinfected using hospital-grade cleaner (Ecolab’s TB Disinfectant 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.
  • EcoLab’s 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 hotel has also created immune-boosting food and beverage offerings including:

  • A special immune system boosting menu packed with antioxidants, vitamins, probiotics and prebiotics for guests to ensure continued health.
  • Immune Booster Kits – Energize Kit and Travel Kit with tinctures and Airborne products.

The 273-room Westin Houston Medical Center hotel is located at 1709 Dryden Road, between Main Street and Fannin Street. The newly opened hotel is situated in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, which attracts more than 15 million annual visitors. For more information, visit www.westinhoustonmedicalcenter.com.

About Pearl Hospitality
Founded in 2000, Houston-based Pearl Hospitality is built on the belief that by investing in the growth of its people, it is investing in the future of the company. Pearl Hospitality has a proven track record of acquiring distressed properties and converting them into top-tier hotels. The focus on both personal and professional growth of the Pearl team results in a level of performance that far exceeds industry averages. Unlike many hotel companies, their integrated model offers a turn-key service approach, providing development, construction and operations. For more information visit, www.pearlhospitality.com.

About Xenex
Xenex is a world leader in UV technology-based infection prevention strategies and solutions. Xenex’s mission is to save lives and reduce suffering by destroying the deadly microorganisms that cause hospital acquired infections. Xenex is backed by well-known investors that include EW Healthcare Partners, Piper Jaffray, Malin Corporation, Battery Ventures, Targeted Technology Fund II, Tectonic Ventures and RK Ventures. For more information, visit xenex.com.

According to the CDC, “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline Coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal Coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of Coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.” Xenex: The LightStrike robot has been proven effective in laboratory testing at quickly deactivating Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus but has not yet tested against COVID-19.

Credit Kim Manganello