This month key bedding suppliers unveil the latest eco-friendly innovations plus the meaning of the latest fad behind a ‘pillow menu’ within a hotel.
Sameer Ahmed, sales director, Middle East and Africa, Restonic
Sudarshan Rai, marketing manager, Dubai Furniture Manufacturing Co. Inc.
Rabah Sakr, general manager, Hypnos ME
Hassan A. Al Hazeem, managing director, Intercoil
Eva-Maria Casagrande, managing partner, Mühldorfer
Matthew Go, sales contract manager, Silentnight UAE LLC
Dennis Bujack, vice president sales, Hanse Textilvertrieb GmbH (official supplier in the UAE: Bahraja General Trading)
What are some of the latest trends being seen across the beds and bedding market?
Ahmed: One of the major trends we have seen over the past few years is that the hotels invest in high quality beds to differentiate themselves from their competitors and offer a great sleep experience to their guest.
Rai: The use of turn free mattresses has become the ‘norm’ now, but one fad that is catching on is the ‘pillow menu.’ Many luxury hotels now keep a pillow menu for their guests, whereby they can choose from a variety of pillows on the menu to suit their personal needs. Another notable trend is the use of Visco Gel Mattresses and in line with this we have launched our Cool Action Gel Infused Visco foam technology mattresses known as the I series. The cool gel beads provide an open cell structure to the visco foam and keeps the mattress cool thus providing a comfortable surface for sleeping. these gel beads act as pressure reliving agents to the differential pressure zones of the body. These beads accumulate and provide additional support to the body where it’s needed the most. This technology is patented for Serta and has gained popularity in the US market.
Go: More people are favouring softer but supportive mattresses, like the pillow top mattress, pocket spring type and our exclusive range of Softtouch Pocketed, Ergo Coil and Verticoil spring system which gives more comfort and support during sleep.
Sakr: We are seeing more environmentally friendly, sustainable bedding solutions that do not compromise the sleep experience. Hypnos tackles this by providing alternatives that leverage more natural materials in the mattresses construction, reducing and eliminating materials containing chemicals and focusing on the overall health benefits provided by our mattresses.
Al Hazeem: Increasingly, hotels are focusing on the sleep experience of the guest as a key differentiator, and look for products and systems that will deliver the most comfort in the sleep environment. Previously, this was the unique proposition of a select few, but today the entire hotel sector is adopting this trend. While premium hotels ensure the ultimate guest sleep experience with successful bedding programs such as Heavenly bed and Sweet sleeper, even budget and business traveller hotels guarantee a minimum of a comfortable bed and a clean towel.
Casagrande: We are seeing that not only 4-and-5-star but also budget hotels now pirchase higher quality bedding items because 72% of all hotel guests say, a comfortable bed is the most decisive
factor in selecting a hotel. Ergonomics plays an important role for a good sleep and a well balanced pillow supports the perfect ergonomic position.
Bujack: When prices were on the rise, down and poly blends had become popular to stay competitive, but now, people are concentrating again on pure, natural materials. Today, the development is going towards fragrance-design, to match the optical design that is already taking place in hotels.
What are some of the most desired materials on the market at the moment and why?
Ahmed: High quality pocket spring mattresses, with a plush top and a combination of memory foam and latex are gaining popularity due to providing increased body support, mattress durability and resiliency. Our ComfortCare pocket spring mattresses concentrate more coils in the center third for 25% more support preventing mattress sagging, reduces motion transfer, eliminates partner disturbance and roll together for an undisturbed sleep.
Rai: Our King Koil mattress with encasements, our Serta Water and stain proof mattress protectors were pretty popular last year. The King Koil Mattress encasements wrap the mattress completely and provide total hygiene and protection.
Bujack: There is always the most luxurious material, which is the original Icelandic Eiderdown, but this kind of outstanding quality is very rare and also limited in availability. The most used material for duvets is duck down, as this material is most compliant with any traceability request.
Al Hazeem: CSR, environmental friendliness, and sustainability are the key driving factors in the hospitality industry and hence there is a trend towards eco –friendly products, and in favor of suppliers who are committed to these principles. Our latex foam is desired for its natural durable eco-friendly nature as it is both biodegradable and renewabl. Our viscose-memory foam is also extremely popular as it is more flexible than conventional foam, responding to body heat and regaining shape after pressure application at a much slower pace.
Sakr: The older bonnell spring core technology is coming out of fashion and we are seeing more pocketed core products.
Casagrande: Generally bedding items filled with down feathers are the most purchased products, Down is still the lightest, softest and the best temperature-compensting natural product.
Go: Memory foam, latex foam, pocket spring coils and our Soft Touch Pocketed Spring, Ergo Coil and Verticoil Spring from Legget and Platt are some of the most desired materials on the market at the moment because of their superb comfort, support and durability.
What key qualities do you look for when sourcing materials and why?
Ahmed: We choose leading companies in Europe and in the Far-East for sourcing materials. We strongly emphasise on using organic fabrics in our mattresses, sustainable materials in comfort layers, British standard steel wire for increased support and kiln dried Canadian pine wood for stronger foundation.
Sakr: Our first priority for sourcing is to ensure the long term performance of the material to deliver
a sustained performance of the final product. Secondarily, we look for products that deliver alternative benefits around health, environmental impact and recyclability.
Rai: Mattress are manufactured using various raw materials, right from the spring wires to the mattress ticking. Each raw material’s quality is judged by technical parameters to identify its strength, durability and flexibility before purchasing. Raw materials are only purchased from ISO certified suppliers and we evaluate them under our vendor evaluation system which is as per the ISO standards. We at DFMC source raw materials only after the supplier is accredited.
Al Hazeem: At Intercoil, we keep abreast of the latest innovations globally to offer products that deliver the best possible safety and comfort, as well as the greatest operational efficiencies for hotels by reducing waste and managing costs. We provide hotels with products featuring innovative technology that include detachable mattress tops so that comfort layers can be replaced without discarding the entire mattress.
Go: Quality reputation and the history of the company, consistency of products and price.
Bujack: Our materials must always comply to the strict European Norms, the EN 12935 and labelled according to EN 12934.
Casagrande: Mühldorfer uses 100% natural products for producing bedding. We only buy high quality raw materials of Down feathers from controlled and certificated farms with the most luxurious filling material of Eiderdown. Cotton quality is important as the cotton should be as
long-staple as possible, min. 4.5 cm, so that finest cotton qualities can be spun. We use 100% cotton, washable at 60-95°C, tumble-resistant, down-proof, preshrunk and equipped with hydro-transport system.
How do you ensure a product is aesthetically appealing to sleep on whilst maintaining the upmost levels of comfort?
Rai: There are there main attributes to a mattress: Support, comfort and feeling. We ensure that our mattresses meet these three parameters first, then the aesthetics are considered. Our objective is to make the mattress looks inviting, for which we mattress ticking alongside eye catching quilting designs. Matching border ticking and tape edge is also used to give a final finish to the product.
Ahmed: Attention to detail in designing the beds and mattresses by adding plush quilting designs and using high quality materials.
Go: We make sure the finest materials are used on our products and these are tested in Silentnight UK certified laboratories to ensure its quality and durability. Our Fire Retardant Mattresses are also tested in the Silentnight UK laboratory and a certified UK independent testing laboratory to ensure the product complies to British standard on fire retardancy.
Al Hazeem: Hotels have an elaborate process in place to evaluate their suppliers, using sample mattresses in hotel rooms to test our product over a considerable period of time. In some cases, this process can take up to 24 months, with feedback from hotel guests playing a key role in the final purchasing decision.
Bujack: We always try to find the right balance of luxury, combined with durability. Hotels must be able to regularly wash and clean our products, without them losing their comfort. All our products are equipped with precise care instructions and we do hold “cleanliness classes” for any of our customers interested on a regular basis.
What qualities are guests looking for when staying in a hotel bed, and how have demands shifted over the years?
Ahmed: We see guests looking for personalised mattress toppers and a pillow menu that is individually tailored to suit their comfort level.
Rai: Customer demands have not really changed but due to competition, mattresses have gained increased importance for hoteliers and therefore hotels have upgraded their mattresses and opted for high end mattress grades.
Al Hazeem: A good sleep is the result of several factors, including: The sleep environment, light, sound and a comfortable sleep system, a mattress and matching foundations. All of which are qualifiers for a hotel guest.
Casagrande: A good sleep is top of the list for guests, and a supportive and well-balanced pillow for better positioning for neck and back has come into play with the offering a Pillow Menu with different types of pillows.
Go: Guests are looking for well organised, clean and comfortable beds alongside good quality pillows and covers. The demands over the years have shifted to upgrading the mattress to pocket spring types with the use of sprung-bases and add-ons, such as the use a mattress topper and selecting a pillow from the menu.
What should housekeepers and purchasing managers know about beds and bedding products before purchasing items?
Ahmed: Most of the hotels require high quality beds which offer comfort, durability and extended warranty between five to ten years which is a good return on investment. In addition to this, timely delivery and after sale service also attributes to their value for money.
Rai: Purchasing managers and housekeepers should correctly profile their guest clientele, secondly they should profile the property type and thirdly they should collect market feedback on various mattress brands available. By doing this they will be in a position to choose the right product in line with their hotel and clientele expectations.
Casagrande: We provide housekeepers and purchasing managers with all necessary and important information, such as: Washing instructions: recommended washable temperatures and how to keep our bedding items hypoallergenic.
Go: They should be aware of the latest bedspring technology, materials and fire retardant regulations on beds. They should also conduct factory visits to check the quality of the products before procuring them.
Bujack: Duvets and pillows look all “white, fluffy and square”. On paper, they also seem to be easy to understand, as a duvet is a “duvet”. However, there are many different variations with regards to the product-styles, fabrics and filling materials, so it is worthwhile, going into great detail and really comparing “apples with apples”, like for like.
Sakr: Housekeepers and purchasing managers need to consider the long term durability, performance and health benefits of the materials used to construct the mattresses. It is our responsibility within the bedding industry to ensure that educating the stakeholders is a priority so that they can make the most informed decisions when sourcing for their hotels.
Is there a demand for more sustainable products, if so how do your products comply and cater to meet demand?
Ahmed: Our latest initiative focuses on eco-responsible products and as a social responsibility programme towards green hotels we now incorporate natural latex , natural cotton, natural wool and organic fabrics in our mattresses, which reduce overheating and provides thermal compatibility for a better sleep experience.
Rai: Environmentally friendly initiatives have been a noticeable trend in the industry and we maintain strict standards in this regard. In line with this we ensure the use of Mega Foam or Green Foam and we ensure the use of eco-friendly foam manufacturing techniques. There are different types of foam available on the market today and during the manufacturing processes of these types of foam, harmful agents are released into the atmosphere which affects the Ozone layer. We use German technology and manufacture Mega Foam or Green Foam by avoiding the use of Methylene Chloride which is an Ozone depleting substance which nullifies deleterious effects on the environment.
Al Hazeem: Most definitely. Industry surveys show that 90% of hotel guests would rather stay in a “green hotel”, which indicates a huge shift in environmental awareness. The steel we use is 100% recycled, and we ensure that our suppliers adopt sustainable practices. The fabrics we use are mostly cotton and thus 100% eco – friendly. The foam used in the upholstery layers is mandated to environmentally friendly practices and ensures hazardous emissions are kept to minimum. The foam is manufactured using eco-friendly Co2 instead of conventional processes that involve the use of hazardous chemicals. In addition, all of our divan beds are made of wood that is taken from environment certified managed forests.
Casagrande: Yes, there is always the demand for ecological quality and sustainable products.
Therefore we have created our ecological Bio-Nature product line, these are selected downs covered in the finest untreated cotton. This new product line is produced on the basis of carefully chosen 100% cotton qualities from pesticide-free farming, which are subject to a particularly gentle process unbleached and undyed, no chemicals are used for yarning.
Bujack: Sustainability is a big deal with duvets and pillows. We are basically looking at three different sectors: the renewable source of feathers and down, being collected as a by-product of the
meat-industry (in comparison, synthetic poly products are oil-based and accordingly limited in resource) as a first sector, then the process of “green manufacturing” (washing with water recycling, bio-degradable detergents upon washing, renewable energy for all electricity needs) and lastly the aspect of waste management: our naturally filled duvets and pillows are 100% compostable, whereas synthetic products will still be around for a 100 years, not really in the same quality and with the same comfort though…
Go: Yes, there is definitely a demand for more sustainable products. We use sustainable materials such as natural latex, coir fiber and cotton pads in our products of which we procure from sustainable sources.
What advice can you offer to housekeepers, hoteliers and laundry managers to ensure the upkeep of bedding products?
Ahmed: We work closely with hoteliers to help them design and manufacture new products in line with new trends in the market. Restonic considers any input, ideas and suggestions from concerned departments that allows us to customise products to raise their room standards and deliver a whole new level of luxury and comfort all geared towards a great night sleep for the guest.
Rai: A mattress is the most used piece of furniture in a hotel room, therefore maintaining it is of upmost importance. Mattresses are vulnerable to dust, dirt, bugs and mite which can cause allergies and asthma. The key factors should be: Dusting: Remove dust from the surface of your mattress and base with the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner.
Removing stains and cleaning soiled surfaces: You can use an upholstery shampoo strictly as per the directions given on the shampoo labels. Alternatively, you can use dry suds, made by beating up mild detergent in warm water with an eggbeater; apply only the dry suds to a small area at a time using a soft brush or sponge; wipe with sponge wrung out of warm water. Do not get padding inside the mattress wet. Dry the area completely before covering or using the mattress. One can avoid all these hassles by covering the mattress by mattress protector or mattress encasement which will ensure a longer life for the mattress.
Go: Instructions and care guide advice should be followed, such as the standard use of a waterproof mattress protector on every mattress, regular rotation or turning of the mattress.
Sakr: A well designed mattress should provide a great sleep experience over its lifetime with minimal upkeep. Turning or flipping the mattress regularly and using a mattress protector to preserve the integrity of the mattress surface will go a long way to ensuring the upkeep of the bedding products.
Al Hazeem: With such high usage rates, hotels must ensure beds and bedding products receive regular upkeep – and that’s not just the sheets! Intercoil is introducing an exciting new mattress care program to support the hoteliers that includes periodic mattress cleaning to maintain cleanliness and hygiene at the highest level.