By Don Douloff
“These days, travellers are educated on the correlation between sleep and health, productivity and energy. Work or leisure travellers value a good night’s sleep and expect nothing less. Guests decide to return again (or not!) based on the quality of mattress and overall sleep experience. A guest actually perceives the entire quality of the room as being higher if there is a luxurious bed (the combination of mattress plus pillows plus linens).”
Those words, from Jordanna Caine, national contract sales manager at Springwall Sleep Products Inc., neatly encapsulate the importance of a good night’s rest.
In fact, a good sleep experience can give properties a competitive advantage, according to Caine. “If a hotel is looking for excellent reviews and word of mouth, they need to ensure they fit out the rooms with luxurious mattresses and let the guests know what they are doing to create an incredible sleep experience. A hotel needs to be able to market the sleep experience to entice guests to choose their property for the initial stay and must follow through in order to retain that guest loyalty and reap the benefits of positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.”
A zoned pocketed coil is the perfect (mattress) construction, since it offers enhanced support while providing individualized contouring and is a much more durable system, said Caine.
COMFORT FOAM LAYERS
Equally important are the comfort foam layers. Hoteliers are looking for posturized foams, enhanced pressure relief for the guest where the body is heaviest — humans carry 60 per cent of their body weight in their trunk — and bringing added durability, she said.
Too, guests want a temperature-neutral sleep. “Specialty foams like aqua gel memory foam draw excess heat away from the sleeping surface and rather than remaining trapped in the mattress, the heat needs to escape — ventilated side rails allow this to happen.” Springwall’s signature brand is the Chiropractic Sleep System, the only sleep set recommended and endorsed by the Canadian Chiropractic Association.
Matt Carter, national hospitality sales manager at Tempur Sealy Canada, said hotels are committing heavily to creating a top-quality sleep experience. “The conversation is not of price, but getting a premium product,” he said. “Hotels are recognizing that it’s an investment that must be made. They’re looking to upgrade from what they’ve historically done.” Comfort is the most prized feature, followed by durability.
A higher-profile (that is, thicker) mattress — 13 to 14.5 inches in the case of premium styles — presents well and works as the centrepiece of a guestroom, noted Carter. Platform (i.e. mattress-only) looks are gaining in popularity. Pillowtops, including European models, remain strong.
To differentiate premium suites’ sleep experience from that of standard rooms, four- and five-star properties are offering adjustable beds, allowing guests to raise the head and foot, providing another comfort level when guests are watching TV or working on their laptops, said Carter. Tempur Sealy has moved to 100-per-cent gel foam, which is durable and more comfortable, providing a “deeper, denser feel.”
GUESTS’ FIRST INTERACTION
Montreal’s just-opened William Gray hotel has taken great care with its sleep experience, which is, “more often than not, the first real interaction our guests have with our rooms,” said Maria Antonopoulos, director, marketing communications at Le Groupe Antonopoulos, which owns William Gray. Keeping things local and highlighting the spirit of Old Montreal, William Gray commissioned Camdi design for its bed frames and headboards. Feathered duvets come from Quebec sleep masters Oie Blanc Canadien, while Royal Plus pillows and 100-per-cent cotton sheets “hit that sweet spot with a soft, 300-thread count.”
Choice Hotels Canada, in recent years, has refreshed Comfort Inn’s Truly Yours guestrooms, introducing 100-per-cent cotton sheets topped by a filled blanket “that gives the bed a full, lofty, look and feel,” said director of franchise services Brendan Gibney. The Truly Yours – Pick Your Pillow program supplies both firm and soft pillows on every bed. “We’ve already seen a lift in guest satisfaction scores for every hotel that has completed the Truly Yours update,” said Gibney.
Fairmont provides beds with pocketed-coil pillowtop mattresses. Beds feature “comfort flex” and “sim tech,” the independent coil construction that provides support. Guestrooms across the portfolio offer either a Sealy Posturepedic Luxury Plush Pillowtop or a Stearns & Foster Plush Pillowtop, both private label and exclusive to Fairmont, according to information provided by the company. White, high-thread-count linens add extra comfort. Finishing off the set are plush feather pillows and duvets.
At select Fairmont Gold locations, guests can choose from an in-room menu of specialty pillows. Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza, for example, offers the Perfect Pillow (isotonic for rejuvenating rest); the Four Position Pillow (for under the neck, behind or under the knees and behind the back) and the Snore Reduction Pillow (helps combat snoring by positioning the head and neck for maximum airflow). The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Pillow Concierge features Dreamsong White Down, Xanadu Bamboo Charcoal, Zen Fibre, Embrace Body, Maternity and Knee pillows.
At IHG, a number of things are afoot. In the Even Hotel brand, rooms feature a painted canopy over a Simmons BeautyRest bed outfitted with layered eucalyptus linens that provide a cooler sleep. Pillows cater both to guests who sleep on their side and those who sleep on their back. In June, IHG announced a $200 million investment in the Crowne Plaza brand for the Americas region. As part of the Crowne Plaza Accelerate plan, the brand will introduce a sleep solution for all hotels that includes a higher-quality mattress and new pillows. Additionally, the brand developed the WorkLife guestroom featuring an angled bed.
Marriott’s Renaissance brand has developed a bedding program offering lush sheets, upgraded pillows and a comfortable mattress. “For us, the bedding has to have a more textured, residential quality,” said Toni Stoeckl, vice-president, lifestyle brands for Marriott International.
The experience features a custom mattress, platform and headboard; Pacific Coast DownSurround pillow filled with down and feathers, cleaned to allergy-free level and swathed in 100-per-cent cotton leak-proof covers; 300-thread-count sheets in a 60/40 cotton/polyester blend; and Pacific Coast Light Weight Down Duvet, 230-thread count (and allergy free).
Following the enhancements Renaissance has implemented, “we see consistent improvements to our guests’ satisfaction in the room,” said Stoeckl.
At Chipman Hill Suites, in Saint John, N.B., the bed of choice is Beautyrest Bouvet Island Recharge Pillow-Top with EverNU replaceable top, according to Yves Maisonneuve, hospitality account manager at Simmons Canada.
The pillowtop “provides a more luxurious feel and look for a more homey feel,” while the EverNU zip-off top “allows hotels to refresh their guests’ sleep experience by replacing a mattress’s top upholstery layers. This helps maintain the original comfort of the bed and helps extend the life of the mattress,” said Maisonneuve. That bed also features Aircool foams “that helps air circulation and keeps the mattress sleep experience cooler.”
Anchoring the sleep experience at Sheraton is a custom-designed 13-inch Simmons mattress featuring a plush-top. Other mattress features include quilted fabrics and cushioning foams; individually wrapped pocketed coils; and reinforced edge support.
Of course, hotels must protect mattresses against wear, bodily fluids and pests. Mattress encasements are an important tool for protecting a hotel’s mattress investment as well as providing a healthy sleep environment. Johan Bosman, key account manager at Protect-A-Bed, manufacturer of quilted, waterproof mattress pads, offers five tips for selecting mattress protection:
Best-in-class, commercial manufacturing is critical to an encasement’s effectiveness. Products manufactured with quality control standards at the plant level guarantee production quality consistency.
Seams are one of the most vulnerable encasement features and double-stitched seams are critical for durability and moisture-proofing.
Miracle Membrane (polyurethane laminated layers) creates an air vapor porous, waterproof layer that is cool, comfortable and quiet.
A three-sided zipper ensures ease of installation and excellent fit.
Six-sided waterproofing creates a barrier between the mattress and guest, preventing bedbugs, accidents and allergens from penetrating the mattress on all six sides.
“The key is to use a product that will impact a guest’s sense of well-being, protect an owner’s asset and minimize maintenance,” said Bosman.