Heavenly Bed Promotion By Westin Spurs Others In Industry To Make Changes

NATIONAL REPORT? Ever since Westin Hotels and Resorts launched its Heavenly Bed promotion late last summer, other hotel companies have been bemused at the attention it?s brought to the core element of every hotel room, the bed. The Westin promotion included creative marketing antics that saw cities across the nation with Westin properties doing just about anything to promote the new upscale Heavenly Bed accouterments, which include a Simmons Beautyrest pillowtop mattress set; a down blanket; three sheets with a thread count that ranges from 180 to 250; a comforter; duvet and five fluffy pillows. Starwood Chairman and CEO Barry Sternlicht himself played a heavy role in the publicity efforts in New York City by bringing one of the beds to the New York Stock Exchange, where he rang the bell to start the trading that morning. A few hours later he was seen in Grand Central Station, surrounded by Heavenly Beds and models clothed in pajamas designed by Cynthia Rowley. ?I have to give them credit,? said Les Bentley, president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. ?It was a great public relations deal,? he added. Bentley said ironically, Wyndham began working on upgrading its bedding a year-and-a-half ago but didn?t choose to promote it in quite the same fashion as Westin. ?We selected new beds and bedding and pillowtops a year ago,? said Bentley. ?We tried to do a combination of what the retailers sell, something comfortable but something that will hold up over a period of time.? Bentley said that Serta came up with a bed that is ?nice and comfortable with a pillowtop but will last longer than a couple of years. So it?s comfortable and economical.? The beds are being used throughout all of Wyndham International?s brands, he said. Bentley said the fact that Wyndham owns 80% of its assets makes a task like replacing beds that much easier. ?We have a few, select franchisees who are good partners and so it is less of an issue.? So will we see Les Bentley in Grand Central Station soon, showing off Wyndham?s new bedding? Not likely, he said. ?We will look more at the whole Wyndham experience,? he said, noting that Wyndham is about to add other elements to its guestrooms as well, including portable phones and high-speed Internet access. Meanwhile, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. said it has been adjusting its bedding for the past two years based on feedback and customer surveys. The hotel company has now switched corporate-wide to 100% Egyptian cotton sheeting, said Jim McManemon. In warmer climates, bedding will now consist of Italian mercerized Egyptian cotton with a down blanket; top sheets will consist of 300-count Frette linen, said McManemon. Similar Frette bedding ensembles at the retail level go for $1,400, he said. In cooler climates, duvets will be utilized, he said, noting that although duvets can be used inwarmer climates, Americans tend to think of them as being heavy. ?But this is a feather duvet which is surrounded by a 300-thread count cover.? ?We have also enhanced the type of feather pillows we use,? he added. ?What we have now is a 98% non-allergic feather pillow made of goose down and goose feathers.? McManemon said that the 10 to 11 properties opening in the near future will have all of these amenities. With all this fancy bedding, what happens to the laundering costs? It is much more expensive, said McManemon. ?You have to take into account the special needs. The process is different. If you have the right amount of inventory levels you will be able to maintain and rotate the linen without overusing it.? Duvets and featherbeds require additional work, he added, although featherbeds are clothed in covers that are 90% water resistant, so if spills occur, it?s the just cover that needs cleaning. Why are fancy linens all the rage right now? McManemon said it?s because upscale clientele are interested in buying more luxurious bedding for their homes. ?It?s no longer about white sales. They want a comforter and matching sheets,? he s

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