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The bed is back at the centre of the room

What is a good bed? The question is crucial for the hotel industy when the clients are more and more concerned by the quality of their sleep. In a month the Parisian trade show Equip’Hôtel will be a perfect opportunity to feel the trends. In the meantime, we offer you a first review of the new products that will revolutionize the night...

A good night sleep that is cosy and reviving: this is what hotel guests expect first and foremost. That might seem obvious. So obvious that this fundamental detail was no longer used in sales pitches. But the sector, after considerably developing annex services, has been returning to this essential point for some years. “Heavenly Bed” by Westin, “Grand Bed” by Hyatt, “My Bed” by Sofitel, “Sweet Sleeper Bed” by Sheraton or “New Bedding” by Marriott... each has its own concept for casting a spell on the night. All these concepts have become prestigious logos that are synonymous with maximum comfort, and consumers have responded very favourably to these attempts to return the bed to front stage as the primary room equipment. Consequently, after North America, the entire world – and no longer exclusively upscale hotels - is progressively renewing its equipment: mattress, pillows, blankets... “There has been a real increase in awareness,” confirms Yannick Raissac of the company Epeda-Bultex whose division especially dedicated to the hotel industry is 25 years-old already. The result: supply met the increased demand for innovation and diversification. To such an extent that today it is a bit difficult to understand the wide array of solutions and materials available.Today, thanks to a variety of campaigns for building awareness about backaches and the importance of sleep, hoteliers through their own bedding-related campaigns have all the means for attracting more clients who have become very demanding in this area.As far as bedding is concerned, two factors must be considered: comfort and health. Both are very closely related, but a bed that is welcoming at first does not always leave good memories after a few hours... This is where technology comes in to ensure optimal support without compromising the sensation of softness, or, as Yannick Raissac summarizes: “a firm core beneath a soft shell”. There are two primary types of mattress: with springs or alveolar. In both cases, what characterizes a good product is its ability to offer good comfort (it hugs the body the best) while avoiding compression of an infinite number of small blood vessels and capillaries in the back.In this regard, Alain Moiso of the company Sealy Pirelli, the first worldwide supplier managing international contracts with major chains, evokes the Posturepedic suspension system of its new “Eden” range. This patented solution plays on an innovative idea: coils with a high carbon content “to provide progressive adaptation. In short, the mattress truly adapts to the body’s shape to offer custom comfort.” Another procedure with the same effect is Simmons’ Sensoft pocket spring system offering progressive comfort thanks to individually wrapped pocketed coil springs. This technology has existed since 2004 and is now being introduced to the hotel industry for the first time. “The upper part of the springs is more flexible and gives at the slightest pressure to delicately welcome the sleeper,” explains Corinne Lemoal. “The central part of the springs is more reactive, and is solicited next, progressively adapting to the body and ensure more firmness. During sleep, the Sensoft system absorbs the body’s slightest movement and adjusts support to the position of the sleeper.”With all the choices, how to chose ? Springs or alveolus? “In 3- and 4-star hotels, springs take the lead,” explains Yannick Raissac of Epeda-Bultex, which specializes in the two technologies. “It’s a traditional method that has stood the test of time. But the cell solutions constitute a good ecoeconomic alternative while maintaining a high level of comfort. Corporate operated 2* hotels in particular are very interested in cellular mattresses: the products are more simple and have slipcovers.”Simple, this is another key word, more so for the hotelier than for clientele. The idea is to make life easier for housekeeping with products that soil less easily, or at least that are easier to handle and clean. To meet this need, Simmons presents its No-Flip mattress, with an “all-season” side that acts like a microclimate by adapting to temperature changes. No more mattress turning in the summer and winter (a demanding exercise that many hoteliers often forget). The Cosmos range by Sealy Pirelli is also a part of this same idea, but this time using a 6 cm thick mattress topper with a special surface that in addition to increasing comfort, eliminates the need to handle the mattress. Personnel will be the last to complain! In addition to questions concerning maintenance, the topper has won further praise recently as it also increases the height of the bed. It is no longer rare to see it more than 50 cm high whereas in recent years its height had been diminishing. “The causes are mostly aesthetic,” explains Yannick Raissac. “Instead we are seeing an increase in the width and length due to the fact that the morphology of the population is evolving. While models measuring 1.90 m continue to be most common it is no longer rare to see mattresses measuring 2 m and even 2.10 m. The same is true for width, we are increasingly heading toward mattresses measuring 160/180 cm, in keeping with the North American model.” Thus, magnitude is on the menu, but only within the limits of what the room permits. It is therefore not surprising that this trend mostly concerns the upscale hotel industry.While it may be key to a fine journey in the arms of Morpheus, the quality of a mattress is not the only parameter that comes into play. “Without a good pillow even a very good mattress is useless,” reminds Jean-Philippe Metge, manager of the hotel division at the company Lestra, regretting that all too often the rest of the sleeping equipment receives less careful attention. With its offer of pillows with feather/ down as well as synthetic filling, Lestra is counting a great deal on its Dacron 95 model. “It offers perfect relaxation and optimal long-term comfort, whereas the pillow supply normally needs to be replenished every 1000 nights, or very three years. Moreover, it may be washed at 95° without losing its filling power, which is perfect for housekeeping. At this temperature normal pillows lose 20% of their volume. Dacron 95 prevents the fibre from bunching inside, which deforms the pillow, quickly making it uncomfortable.” But Lestra’s major warhorse at present is comforters, which having conquered followers in two-thirds of French homes are making a strong entry into hotels. “It is a true revolution in bedding,” enthuses Jean- Philippe Metge, whose company presented the first French comforter in 1974! A good dose of patience was necessary before the hotel industry would leave sheets and blankets by the wayside for the latter... but the movement has been well under way for two years. “In France, most hotels are still very traditional in this regard, but they are coming around because foreign clientele prefer quilts. Nordic countries have been familiar with its virtues forever and the model is broadly disseminated.” But what are these famous virtues? “The cocooning aspect and the cosy nest is a must, as is hygiene because the comforter is protected by a cover and thus it does not enter into direct contact with anything. For housekeeping personnel we have created a system that makes it possible to change the cover much more easily. Finally the comforter enjoys a modern image that may be of interest to those hotels wishing to update their style.”One thing is clear, things are changing in this sector. “It is true that the trend is strong,” observes Alain Moiso of Sealy Pirelli, “but hoteliers must stand up for themselves: hotel bedding has different requirements from that in private homes. One had best address specialists in the sector because it’s not a simple matter”. As far as clients are concerned, they increasingly expect suppliers to advise them in order to determine the range that best meets their needs and budget, and all within a sea of choices. Following the example of the great international chains, new hotel categories are very interested in improving the quality of their guests’ sleep because nothing is better for developing loyalty than a good night’s sleep. “We have more and more independent 4* hotel chains, such as Relais & Chateaux,” confirms Alain Moiso. “That is where things are headed. Similarly, many 2* hotels that don’t want to upgrade to 3* nonetheless offer their guests midrange bedding. The same is true for 3* which are increasingly offering 4* quality bedding...” According to Yannick Raissac, of Epeda-Bultex “the entire independent hotel business is a market that hides a wide margin of development. Not a month goes by that we don’t ship bedding across Europe.”Another promising market: residence hotels, which are also starting to outfit themselves en masse. “Clients sometimes stay for one or even two months, so a bad bed will necessarily have sequels. It is impossible to cut corners in this domain!”Today, thanks to a variety of campaigns for building awareness about backaches and the importance of sleep, hoteliers through their own bedding-related campaigns have all the means for attracting more clients who have become very demanding in this area.

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