Supplier Roundtable: Bedding Down

There is now plenty for hoteliers to consider when choosing beds and bedding

Superior Room at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates.
Superior Room at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates.

The most important thing any hotel can provide a guest is a decent night’s sleep, and integral to this is the bed. But with advancements in technology and increasingly demanding consumers, there is now plenty for the hotelier to consider when choosing beds and bedding

Meet the experts
Sameer Ahmed sales director — MEA, Restonic.

Having spent more than a decade in the bedding supply industry, Sameer Ahmed joined Restonic 11 years ago. In his position as sales director Middle east and Africa, Ahmed is responsible for business development in these regions.

Bharath Swamy executive director, IASMO DMCC
Bharath Swamy is a qualified mechanical engineer with specialisation in textiles and 11 years’ experience in the field. He assists in trouble-shooting and conducting seminars on cotton linen and its care to a selected group of housekeepers. He also operates as a linen consultant to a chain of properties in the Middle East.

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Hassan Abbas Ali Al-Hazeem managing director and CEO, Intercoil International
Al-Hazeem is at the helm of Intercoil, a manufacturer, distributor and retailer of total sleep solutions in the MENA region. The company has a presence in 23 countries and manufacturing and distribution rights to premium global brands, Simmons and Therapedic.

Pamini Hemaprabha executive housekeeper, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
Having worked in India, Egypt, and the UAE, Pamini Hemaprabha has nurtured innovation in the field of housekeeping. She is currently employed with Kempinski Mall of Emirates as an executive housekeeper, regional rooms specialist for Middle East Africa,and master trainer for housekeeping essentials worldwide for Kempinski Hotels.

FranÇois Pugliese CEO and owner, Elite
Elite is a Swiss company which has been manufacturing bedding products since 1895. After a career in the automotive industry, François Pugliese took over the family-run company Elite in 2006.

Q: WHAT FACTORS SHOULD HOTELIERS CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING BEDS?
BHARATH SWAMY: They should think about the quality and specifications such as whether the fabric is cotton or poly-cotton as well as the feel of the fabric.

Then there are the comfort-related issues of softness or crispness. You also have to take into account durability and ease of turnaround for guest departures and arrivals.

FRANÇOIS PUGLIESE: For a hotel, even a three-star hotel, the quality of the bedding is part of the service, which makes a real difference. Unfortunately and paradoxically, in many parts of the world, even in Switzerland, hotel managers are tempted to cut corners on bedding quality. On the contrary, superior bed comfort should be the goal of any hotel.

If a hotel wants to stay in the game and attract clients coming from Asia, Russia, and the Middle East, it has to offer international standards such as boxspring beds, extra long beds, and extra large beds.

SAMEER AHMED: Most hotels emphasise high quality beds that offer comfort, durability and extended warranty from five to seven years, which means a reasonable return on investment. In addition to this, timely delivery and after sale service also attributes to their value for money.

PAMINI HEMAPRABHA: It’s imperative to provide guests with the best comfort and sleep when it comes to bedding. Mattresses usually last more than eight to 10 years and become a one-time investment in a decade. The best coil technology along with high performance coil systems help achieve a good night’s sleep.

It is also essential to choose the best fabric like Damask stretch knit fabric, which is super lightweight yet silky and soft. Luxurious knit fabric is both comfortable and soft and the circular knit design adds a gentle elegance to this resilient fabric. Providing a great pillow menu is always appreciated.

HASSAN AL-HAZEEM: I believe the hospitality industry is being driven by a return to basics, with comfort at the centre of it. Providing a positive sleep experience can go a long way to giving guests the value they expect, and a clean, comfortable bed is something guests should be able to take for granted. Industry surveys have found that more than 90% of respondents rated cleanliness and mattress comfort as two of the most important factors in selecting a hotel.

Q: WHAT ARE THE LATEST TRENDS IN BEDS AND BEDDING?
FRANÇOIS: There is a comeback for the box springbed case and the pocket sprung mattress after years of foam mattresses and slatted bed bases. The ‘sleep spa’ concept is also very trendy in hotels at the moment.

The client can choose the firmness and the size of the bed, they can ask for supplementary mattress overlays or special cushions and pillows. There are also special rooms and beds for house dust allergic individuals.
Increasingly, people want to measure their rhythm of sleep in order to wake up at the right moment. Some hotels offer sunrise simulators at the bedside.

PAMINI: Mattresses with built-in toppers boasting the best high-tech coil systems are in great demand. High rise mattresses also add beauty to the room and provide a soothing sleep.Colourful throws and cushions on the bed with embroidered pillow cases along with duvet covers are often the highlights and add a luxurious look to the room.

BHARATH: Mercerised satin sheen is highly popular among five-star properties due to the smooth finish on the bed linen. Jacquard fabrics are also attaining prominence.

HASSAN: New comfort technologies like Simmon’s Advanced Pocketed Coils provide back support with hundreds of individually-wrapped springs that adjust independently to the weight and contour of your body, while offering unmatched motion separation for an undisturbed sleep. Other innovative technologies include Micro Diamond Infused AirCool memory foam, which draws on the conductive properties of diamonds, helping move heat away from the body for a cool, comfortable sleep.

Q: HOW IMPORTANT ARE AESTHETICS?
BHARATH: Aesthetics play an extremely important role in bedding since the initial appearance of the bed leaves a lasting impression about the property on the guests. It becomes imperative to use a minimum 300 TCI linen satin sheen to provide a luxurious feel.

HASSAN: I believe design is more important than ever as guests increasingly seek the surprise element, creativity and cosiness. The classic bed-table-locker combo is no longer enough to make a hotel room inviting. There are new elements that help add personality and make a hotel stay a memorable experience: spa-like features, local art, stunning views, colour and texture, and a ‘heavenly bed’.

Unexpected touches that add to their personal comfort are the most appreciated — a universal adapter and easy access to power points, a scented candle, fresh fruit, and a choice of pillows.

FRANÇOIS: Aesthetics are very important as you cannot see the quality from outside. Our top mattresses aerators are gold plated and the handles are hand-stitched. This will not influence the function, but it gives the object a special appeal.The detailed finish is of great importance as well as the general appearance of the bed. The choice of the fabric is crucial; soft textures and beautifully finished products add a bit of glamour.

Q: WHAT FOLLOW-UP SERVICES SHOULD SUPPLIERS AND MANUFACTURERS OFFER?
BHARATH: They should follow up with the property within two months after the sale to receive feedback. If there are any issues they need to be attended to or rectified by analysing the washing procedure and cycles in the laundry.

It is also imperative that the suppliers and manufacturers educate the relevant personnel on washing care and instructions on handling the linen to extend the longevity. Cotton bed linen should sustain 200 to 220 washes before any visible deterioration.

FRANÇOIS: With our business model ‘Smart Lease’, Elite lends its high quality beds coupled with an annual bed sterilisation service on a long-term basis, and charges a fee according to the guest’s overnight stay. Elite remains the owner of the bed, while the hotel has no big investment to plan, and can outsource a big concern to a bedding expert.

HASSAN: At Intercoil we offer a 10-year warranty for all the products we sell and we are currently working on implementing a new concept — ‘Mattress Housekeeping’. It’s a service included in the initial price of the mattress, including a full cleaning and sanitising process one year after the products have been purchased.

SAMEER: Restonic considers any input, ideas and suggestions from concerned departments, which allows us to supply customised products to raise room standards and deliver the ultimate guest sleep.We provide regular follow-up services for frequent mattress inspection and ensure that their staff follow the mattress care manual for overall performance of the sleep set.

Q: HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN THE BALANCE BETWEEN PRICE POINT AND QUALITY?
PAMINI: Quality always takes the upper hand over price, but sourcing reasonably priced beds that match the same quality is vital. Good market studies of the same products help us achieve the best understanding of the situation. We expect suppliers to provide us with best quotations to achieve budget lines without compromising on quality.

BHARATH: The bed linen for five-star properties needs to maintain a balance between functionality, feel, and pricing. It is pretty unnecessary to increase the TCI of the linen just to get a better feel when the pricing is going to be exorbitant and maintenance difficult. A 300 TCI mercerised linen or even a 220 TCI percale crisp weave would be adequate for five-star properties as long as the yarn is ELS and has been processed in a reputable factory.

HASSAN: Striking a balance between the cost and quality of bed products is always a challenge, yet we make sure to never compromise when it comes to quality. Instead we invest in the latest technology, adopt sustainable practices, and tighten up our production processes to increase our efficiency.

Q: WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU USE, OR LOOK FOR, WHEN CREATING OR SOURCING BEDS AND BEDDING?
PAMINI: Durable bed base upholstery is easy to maintain and to clean in the long run. A mattress with hi-tech coil and spring action is a must, along with a comfortable mattress topper. Mattress protectors, comfortable pillows with pillow protectors also add charm. Using 100% cotton linen with 400TC minimum will give a good finish to bedding.

SAMEER: The material used in our beds and mattresses include fabrics with ‘Outlast’ technology, natural latex and VisCool foam comfort layers, British standard steel wire for increased support, cotton felt insulators, and kiln-dried Canadian pine wood for a stronger foundation. All the components are procured from the leading companies in Europe and the Far East.

BHARATH: The linen needs to be extra-long staple (ELS) cotton and a minimum of 300 TCI yarn. It also needs to be combed cotton so that impurities are removed from the yarn with a shrinkage level of less than 5%. Stitching should be perfect and no lose strings should be observed after the wash.

FRANÇOIS: Elite mattresses are made of natural padding such as organic cotton, tussah silk, wool, horsehair, and cashmere. We also use renewable materials such as lyocell, soy fibre, ingeofibre and sisal. At Elite, we believe that natural raw materials are healthier than cheaper but synthetic fillings. We promote pocket springs because we believe that they offer the best comfort and the best ‘breathing’ ability.

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