By Kristy Dorsey

Aberdeen’s Skene House has become the first of an expected string of accommodation providers to adopt a cleaning system that uses NASA technology to give visitors the highest level of reassurance in their safety from contracting Covid-19.

Room to Breathe has been developed by Insite Specialist Services, part of the Glasgow-based Insite Group of businesses. The system claims to be the only one of its kind that uses technology originally developed by NASA to purify air and apply antimicrobial coatings to surfaces in spacecraft.

Room to Breathe is currently being trialled by family-run Skene House Serviced Apartments, which operates 49 four-star residences at Whitehall, 46 apartments at Rosemount and 35 suits in the Holburn area of Aberdeen.

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The six-step Room to Breathe process covers all hard and soft furnishings using a synthetic copy of a natural fungicide, viricide and bactericide in the place of chemical disinfectants. This is said to eliminate 99.9 per cent of mould, allergens, germs, volatile organic compounds and influenza, as well as the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the air purification system purges the atmosphere of harmful contaminants. Testing and swabbing in collaboration with experts Andersen Caledonia, the UK’s largest supplier of infection control and medical testing services, ensures the targeted application of the system at Skene House properties.

“Delivering services of the very highest standard, including cleanliness, has always been central to what we do but it is important to constantly seek new ways of raising the bar and enhancing the customer experience,” proprietor Charles Skene said.

“As lockdown eases, guests and clients are looking for as much safety and certainty as possible to increase their travel confidence, and we feel that the partnership of Room to Breathe’s innovative system and Andersen Caledonia’s testing protocol provides that.

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“We are delighted to receive confirmation of the effectiveness of our own cleaning regime which, coupled with the installation of the Room to Breathe system, means that we are really good to go.”

Gordon Bruce, who set up Insite Specialist Services with group owner Scott McMillan in 2017, said there has been a surge of interest in the Room to Breathe system as hospitality venues have geared up for re-opening. The company has been in discussions with a number of other high-profile establishments such as Crieff Hydro, Marr Hall and Cameron House Hotel, as well as smaller boutique venues.

“The system initially came about to create a hypoallergenic room experience in the hospitality sector, spearheaded by the contaminants found in indoor environments,” Mr Bruce said. “At the beginning, it was seen as an opportunity for those who suffer from allergies or have immunity issues to buy a room which would match their needs and give them peace of mind.

“However, Covid-19 increased people’s awareness of the dangers that are present and, because our product kills coronavirus and the system can work in any indoor environment, the interest in what we do has been significantly greater.”

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A former surveyor on behalf of an insurance contractor, Mr Bruce became interested in the impact of mould after noticing that his own health was affected by spending time in properties damaged by flooding. The Room to Breathe system is based on the work of Yorkshire-based Dr Chris Pearson, whom Mr Bruce met in 2010.

After attempting to set up his own business while still in full-time employment, Mr Bruce met up with Mr McMillan, and Insite Specialist Services was established in 2017.

Mr Skene said he was “delighted” with the test results from the Room to Breathe service.

“Being the first hospitality provider in Scotland to offer this service was irresistible,” he said. “It offers an augmentation of the deep clean and disinfection protocol that has been the standard hospitality ‘go to’ for re-opening.”

Set up in 2004, Insite Group is made up of five independent contracting service businesses. It employs 100 people and works with clients such as Savills, Knight Frank, the NHS, Ryden and CBRE.