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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let’s Get into Bed: Hotel Beds

by Roderick Eime
HM - Hotel Management Magazine

Julia Roberts just loves getting into bed. And she’s even prepared to admit as much on the top-rating Oprah Winfrey Show. In particular, she prefers the Four Seasons Hotel variety complete with custom Sealy mattress and double duck down pillow.

Four Seasons Hotel Celebrity Bed
If ever we overlooked the importance of the hotel bed, that priceless piece of PR reminded us of the value of an outstanding mattress and pillow. Hands up everyone who’s stayed in a hotel, even a fancy one, and got up the next morning feeling, well, secondhand because of the mattress. Would you stay there again? Thought so.

And if ever we needed reminding about finicky customers, Tom Butler from NZ’s award-winning Grasmere Lodge, reminded me of just how demanding customers can be.

“This one lady was quite adamant about how her bed was to be made,” says Tom, “she stood over our terrified housekeeper as every minute instruction was delivered; mattress with thin down topper, but sheet first, then second sheet, and so on. Everything had to be just so.”

“I wrote all this down and forwarded to the rest of the lodges on her itinerary who thought I was playing another one of my pranks. ‘No, this is for real’, I said. It all worked out in the end and she was happy, but clearly some people take their sleep very seriously!”

Sleep is the new sex, according to an investigation by Forbes magazine.

"Sleep is something everyone needs and wants," said senior editor Melanie Wells. "We have to have it, and we have trouble getting it these days. And increasingly people are paying a lot of money for relief."

UK Times journalist Susan d’Arcy reports that “the trendy Cotswold House Hotel, in Gloucestershire, has taken the search for slumber to another level, installing a bed that costs £14,000 — and it doesn’t even have a mattress. Instead, the Ammique King comprises almost 10,000 vertical rods, each topped with a plastic cap no bigger than a thumbnail and suspended, snug as sardines, in a wooden box. The rods, covered by three padded sheets, contour precisely to your body, thus providing the appropriate support for a perfect night in the land of nod. According to the hype, the Ammique King can ‘turn your dream of quality sleep into a reality’. So, I’m dreaming about being asleep? Oh, never mind.”

Even though beds may not be the first thing a most hotels promote about itself, savvy operators are well aware of the crucial link between a good nights’ rest and a repeat customer.

Back in 1984, the Four Seasons commissioned a specially designed mattress and matching box spring exclusively for their guests. Once perfected, this superbly comfortable bed was installed in every Four Seasons room worldwide, and became so popular with well-rested clients that the design has been made available for purchase so that guests might re-create the Perfect Sleep in their own homes.

Perfection demands meticulous attention to detail. In developing the ultimate sleep experience, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney (and every other Four Seasons Hotel) uses only the finest bed linens, with duvets filled with 100-percent goose down 230TC Cotton and a 290z filling, pillows are 25 per cent duck down, 75 per cent duck feather (small end feather) and sheets are 100 per cent cotton and 300 thread count.

Sally McCann from Sydney’s Four Seasons confirms that customers regularly enquire about taking home one of the specially-made king bed sets after a night on one.

“Andrew Raiss, our Director of Purchasing, even has a form letter to send out to guests who enquire. Because Sealy make each bed to custom order in the USA, we have get payment in advance and it is delivered to the hotel,” says Sally, “Some guests are apparently impressed enough to write a cheque for $6000 – plus delivery.”

Not to be outdone, the W Hotel, for instance, sells a plush Simmons mattress called "The Westin Heavenly Bed." According to New York journalist, Gersh Kuntzman, a king-sized mattress, box spring, frame, pillows, pillow cases and that thing called a duvet will set you back US$3,000.

Westin Heavenly Bed
The hotel claims its "Heavenly Bed" goes headboard-to-headboard with the Four Seasons Hotels' famous "Four Seasons Bed," a souped-up Sealy that costs $2,000 and features 933 individual coils (that's a lot of coils). The Four Seasons in New York sells a dozen a month alone, thanks to recent testimonials by noted bed user Julia Roberts and noted reader Oprah Winfrey.

"We even have one guest who bought one and asked us to store it for him so that every time he stays here, he can sleep on his own bed," said Susan Zaki, the US hotel's purchasing director.

The Sealy bedroom swagger continues with the “Sheraton Sweet Sleeper”, a custom Posturepedic® launched by Starwood in 2003 and now in over 70,000 rooms across the globe. Take home price: $1300.

Even though the Sealy Four Seasons and those for global brands like Starwood, Rydges and Hilton are made offshore, Sealy still caters to the needs of local hoteliers by consulting and manufacturing according to their own wishes.

Sealy of Australia National Commercial Account Manager, Antony Raiteri says, “We have developed an exclusive range of products for other major national customers such as Mirvac and boutique standalone properties like Crown Casino Melbourne, Emporium Hotel Brisbane, and Versace Hotel Gold Coast. As a result this has enabled us to develop commercial bedding products reflecting the latest in technology and performance to the greater accommodation market in Australia.”

Even though it may be funny to imagine upright purchasing managers taking flying leaps onto mattresses to test them out, that’s pretty much what happens. So which one do they come to rest on?

“The Sealy " Posturepedic® Dynasty Range" is our premium offer and almost always where the bouncing stops. This signature range offers customers the most luxurious commercial bedding products in Australian and is preferred by both the five star international hotel chains and the boutique properties.”

Case in point was the recently opened Emporium Hotel, catering to Brisbane’s elite and transiting glitterati. Raiteri recalls this as “a rather intense process of trialling numerous products looking of market trends, speaking to customers and listening to feedback.”

“Being positioned at the very high end and as a boutique property, we wanted a superlative product, “said GM, Peter Savoff, “Sealy were able to deliver us their best available commercial product at a price we could afford.”

Who else sells beds to hotels?

Another Australian brand, Sleepmaker, with seven manufacturing plants and over 500 employees across Australia and New Zealand lists Accor, Toga, Hyatt and Stamford among their A-list of hotel brands. As part of the massive Pacific Brands group, they offer Sleepmaker, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, Lullaby innercell, beds and bunks, Tontine accessories, feather and down accessory products.

Sleepmaker are responsible for the Sofitel 'My Bed'. The approved and preferred standard is provided to all Sofitel properties in Australasia. The most recent installation is Sofitel, Collins Street, Melbourne. Simmons ‘Heavenly Bed’ at Westin is also supplied by Sleepmaker Commercial.

Okay, so you’ve chosen the springs and bedhead, what next?

The Australian Actil Commercial brand and their bed linen assortment have built a solid reputation for servicing the finest hotels, resorts, luxury accommodations, as well as catering for boutique bed and breakfasts and more modest style accommodations.

With 100 per cent cotton sateen and 300 thread count, this is where you should start for your sheets and pillow cases. Collections include St Francis, Peninsula and Azumi.

And the pillow fight?

Again, Sleepmaker Commercial can supply Tontine Fibre and Feather and Down with everything from pillows, mattress protectors and quilts.

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