May 6, 2015

How hotels orchestrate a good night of sleep: It's all about the mattress.

Daily Briefing

    We spend nearly one-third of our lives in bed, so a comfortable bed that allows for maximum rest is one of the most important elements of a bedroom. But for the hospitality industry, the importance is magnified—and some hotels are going to extreme lengths to create the ultimate sleeping experience for guests, Laura Lipton writes for the Wall Street Journal.

    A Gallup poll conducted last year found that more than 50% of hotel guests staying in high-cost accommodations say they would pay more for a better bed. In addition, the majority of respondents cited a comfortable bed as the most important feature of a hotel room, beating out other amenities like Internet and attentive customer service.

    "The best hotel bed feels more like home than your home," says will.i.am, a musician and environmental advocate who has worked with the W Hotels chain to bring ecofriendly linens to its hotel beds.

    The Westin was the first hotel chain to capitalize on consumer desire for a luxurious bed experience. In 1999, the chain introduced the Heavenly Bed at its hotels, which consists of 10 layers of pillows and padding. After the bed came a line of other "Heavenly" products, like duvets, dog beds, and candles that were for sale directly to consumers.

    Other hotels began to follow suit:

    • After surveying U.S. and foreign travelers in 2013, the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts introduced a Simmons Bedding Company mattress with a heat-absorbing center to keep sleepers cool and three different mattress toppers so sleepers can select the firmness of the mattress.  (The survey found that nearly 50% of respondents had a desire for "medium" firmness, while 33% wanted "firm" mattresses and a small percentage opted for "soft.")
    • The Corinthia Hotel London last year began advertising its beds as mattresses "fit for a queen," because the manufacturer of their beds also provides the beds for the British royal family.
    • The Best Western Hotel Duxiana in Helseigborg, Sweden built its entire business model around its collaboration with Swedish mattress-maker Dux, whose products can cost nearly $15,000. 
    • The Hampton Hotels family also offers its all-white bedding on its Clean and Fresh Hampton Bed to consumers looking to replicate their hotel sleeping experience for between $2,450 and $2,890.

    Can hotel beds ever be replicated?

    Lipton says the hotel sleeping experience can be hard to replicate outside the hotel.

    For instance, companies do not typically sell every part of the bed that makes the experience so luxurious. They might sell the mattress, but not the sheets, and the commercially available mattresses might not have the exact qualities of those provided in hotel rooms. For example, the Heavenly Bed mattress in the Westin rooms includes a zip-off pillow top, but the one consumers can buy has a permanently attached pillow top.

    An extra hour of sleep could increase your earnings by 16%, researchers say

    In addition, the laundering that the linens undergo is much more intense than what a typical consumer's washing machine could offer. Four Seasons New York uses a company called Ecolab to monitor the detergent balance and water temperature and ensure maximum whiteness for its sheets. And many luxury hotel chains use 100% cotton sheets that move through massive ironing machines to come out sans wrinkles—a feat almost impossible to replicate (Lipton, Wall Street Journal, 5/1).

    The takeaway: Hotel chains are focusing a significant amount of time and money on improving the comfort and luxuriousness of hotel beds—even designing linens and other items for direct-to-consumer sale in the marketplace. But can the hotel sleeping experience truly be replicated?

    More from today's Daily Briefing
    1. Current ArticleHow hotels orchestrate a good night of sleep: It's all about the mattress.

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