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Trash or Treasure? A Second Life for Hotel Furniture

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I love hotel remodels—the gleaming bathroom fixtures, the springy pillow-top mattresses that feel improbably cushier than any I’ve owned. But as someone who gets guilty throwing out a paperclip when it could be reused, I've always wondered: What happens to the original (perfectly good) furniture when a property decides to revamp?Are the superfluous fittings recycled, or tossed in a landfill where they’ll form en suite mounds of trash?

According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, there are nearly five million hotel rooms in the U.S., and most have their mattresses and couches updated every 6-8 years (it’s every 12-13 years for less worn-and-torn “casegoods,” like headboards and dressers). When they do get replaced, the majority of hoteliers sell their old furniture to liquidators, who then hawk it to the general public (In the market?Try Hotel Surplus Outlet near Los Angeles for glass-paneled armoires from the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows, and Chicago’s Fort Pitt Hotel Furniture Liquidators for Four Seasons headboards).

Thankfully, though, more and more properties are combining décor overhauls with philanthropy. Recently the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton, Connecticut, remodeled and gave holdover furniture to local charities. They donated over 300 beds, 285 sofas and chairs, and 500 floor and table lamps to people living without them. Now, doesn’t that help everybody rest easy?

Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is a freelance editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Sasha Panasik

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