A truly comfortable bed linen speaks luxury to the guest. When today’s travelers climb into bed, they expect a clean, luxurious and relaxed experience that would create a memorable and personal stay. “The hotel business is probably the most personal experience you can give someone,” said Jannice Cameron-Chapital, SVP of marketing for Hollander. “With so many choices in hotels; comfort, luxury and the experience are important to make the guest return again and again.”
Since the economic downturn, hoteliers have additional capital expenditure for guestroom refurbishment including bed linen upgrades. Top-of-the-line hotel linens are not just sought out after by just luxury hotel brands or five-star resorts, noted Walter Pelaez, CEO of Sobel Westex. “People are looking for a better night’s sleep in the hotel room,” he said. “Hotels such as Super 8, Travelodge and Howard Johnson now have more sophisticated bedding.”
Comfortable bedding has become the iconic symbol and focal point of a hotel’s hospitality—immediately transmitting something about the hotel brand identity and “what the customer can expect about the standards of the establishment,” said Jon Bryant, sales director of hospitality, Sferra. “It tells guests that the hotel has gone to great lengths to ensure that their stay is memorable.”
One such hotel, noted Bryant, is the newly opened Quin Hotel in New York City. “From the bedding to the bedside slippers, from their towels to robes, you know they have addressed every level of detail to create the most comfortable experience,” he said. “One way you know you’ve done it right is when guests want to purchase the very sheets that they’ve slept in on the bed—you’ve given them such a wonderful experience that they want to duplicate it at home.”
Cynthia Puccio, director of hospitality of Frette, echoed Bryant’s observation, noting that guests want to recreate the luxury hotel bedding experience in their homes. “Hotels are now thinking of the bed as an entire idea and luxurious experience,” she said. “White is still the go-to color for many hotel bed linens. Many properties are using more color when adding accents to the bed with throws or pillows.”
For hotels that want to sell a pure, clean image, white bedding is the way to go as it reflects cleanliness and crispness, noted Amber Gapinski, marketing manager of Valley Forge Fabrics. “Sometimes there will be two-line embroidery in an accent or coordinating color,” Gapinski added. “White shows stains and can be more difficult to care for, but when you see an all clean and white bed it gives the perception a sanitary and stable environment.”
A notable trend, for some linen companies, is dressing up the plain white bed. Sferra has received more requests for stain-stitch embellishments on bedding—even as many as 10 rows of stitching on some duvet covers. “For instance, the addition of a bed end/bed scarf adds a nice pop of style and color to the bed,” said Bryant. “We also feel there’s a movement towards jacquard fabrics, and we’re seeing the growing importance of a matelassé coverlet on the bed along with a duvet cover.”
Some linen manufacturers have noticed a significant elimination of top of bed components such as bed scarves. “A major trend has been to simplify the top of the bed by eliminating multiple components; this allows for a clean and fresh bed appearance, which many guests tend to prefer,” said Karen Nilles, hospitality product development manager of 1888 Mills. “Hotels can ultimately save money by not having to purchase and launder these products.”
Design and color can still be integrated into top sheets through the utilization of print technology. Beyond Impressions by 1888 Mills is a top sheet product made from JetSpun polyester. Using a specially formulated dye, the company is able to print a wide array of designs and patterns onto top sheets that can withstand a commercial laundry.
“Textured top of bed products are becoming increasingly popular among hoteliers,” said Nilles. “These products are easy to maintain and are a perfect fit for a property that does not have internal ironing capabilities. Textures also provide another option for a hotel that wants something different than a traditional plain or tone-on-tone weave.”
Within various hotel segments, cotton is still the most sought after linen fabric. “Nothing beats 100% cotton for bedding,” said Puccio, “hoteliers are looking to add a jacquard pattern to their duvet cover and keeping the simple and clean white look on the rest of the bed.” For the luxury hotel market, “cotton is still king—100% cotton is the preferred material for most luxury properties,” added Bryant.
In addition to cotton, some hoteliers are requesting fabrics and linens that are made from renewable resources. Linens made from blends of Tencel+Plus Lyocell fibers, according to Gapinski, such as those offered by Valley Forge Fabrics provides various sustainable and health properties.
A new growing development in the U.S. hotel industry is the movement toward domestic manufacturing, suggested Cameron-Chapital. Hollander launched a campaign last year to increase manufacturing in North America. The company recently increased its manufacturing plants from six to nine plants in the U.S., and 100% of its foam pillows and toppers are now made in the U.S.
When selecting linens for a guestroom, today’s interior designers are looking for products that balance form and function. “Designers are looking for fabrics and looks that will be operationally feasible for the property and long lasting,” said Pelaez. “The product should represent value for the hotel while meeting expectation of guests.”