MINNEAPOLIS—Carlson Hotels’ revitalization of its Radisson brand has been a top priority for the company, particularly bringing its upper upscale Radisson Blu concept to the U.S. Later this month, the brand will bring a sustainable element into the mix with its launch of an environmentally-friendly bedding package.
The new bedding selected by Radisson is composed of Tencel+Plus Lyocell, which is a blend of Eucalyptus and cotton. Manufactured by Valley Forge Fabrics, the linens are part of the company’s Living FRESH bedding collection. According to Kris Lambrecht, director of brand program development, the Americas for Carlson Hotels, the bedding selection came about as part of a larger program by Radisson to test a number of sustainable products. “Back in 2009, we started trying out about eight to 10 environmentally friendly guestroom products and one of them was this bedding. It really piqued our interest, so we decided to do some further testing do see if it stood up to hotel use,” he said.
The Tencel+Plus Lyocell bedding is made from Eucalyptus trees that are grown in forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is protected from over-cutting. Additionally, Eucalyptus is a rapidly renewing plant. The fiber is the only FSC certified fiber that can contribute to LEED points. During the manufacturing process, 100 times less water is used to produce the cotton and an established reclamation program redistributes the products after their life cycle.
However, while the sustainable characteristics of the bedding were numerous, Radisson wanted to ensure it would perform either comparable or better to the bedding the brand had specified.
In addition to preliminary testing, Radisson then went on to conduct user testing by placing the bedding in guestrooms at the Radisson Plaza Hotel here. “We did surveys and the response came back very strong in terms of the hand and feel of the linens,” Lambrecht recalled. “From there, we had to put the products through durability testing to see how they stood up to the laundering process. Overall, we did more than a year of dedicated research. The [bedding]is a newcomer to the industry so we wanted to make sure we did our due diligence to ensure it would last. Testing showed that durability-wise, it had almost an identical number of lifecycles to the cotton/polyester blend bedding we currently spec.”
The sustainability and durability are just two of the Tencel+Plus Lyocell’s positive characteristics that attracted Radisson. Through the course of its research, the brand found the tactile and hygienic qualities of the bedding to be extremely appealing as well. “On the guest side, the bedding has a number of unique advantages. It is engineered to promote relaxation by being able to absorb moisture and wick it away so it creates a very dry and cool sleeping atmosphere,” Lambrecht said, adding the linen’s construction also results in a reduction of bacteria, dust mites and allergens.
He also commented on the luxurious feel of the linens, which reduces the need for using additional chemicals during the laundering process. “Compared to traditional linens, the new bedding has a much softer hand that is just part of its natural properties. Because it is an inherent characteristic that is maintained throughout its lifecycle, you don’t need to use all sorts of fabric softeners or other chemicals.” The bedding offers other laundering advantages as well including requiring approximately 30% less drying time compared to cotton linens. “That reduced drying time decreases costs for the hotel because they do not have to dry the linens as often. Because of their composition, they also require less pressing, which is great because not all hotels have the ability to press linens.”
Officially launching on Mar. 31, Radisson properties will then be able to begin ordering the bedding, which will start shipping this summer. Lambrecht reported the Valley Forge bedding will be standard only for Radisson Blu hotels in the U.S. Radisson properties will be given the choice of upgrading. “We didn’t want to force Radisson hotels to have to replace their bedding. This way, they can keep the cotton/poly blend linens they have, but for those who might want to improve they have the option of trading up to the new linens,” he said.
The Tencel+Plus bedding package for Radisson includes a duvet cover, a flat sheet, a fitted sheet and pillowcases. Continuing the long-running industry trend, Lambrecht noted all of the components will be white. He also acknowledged the bedding does come with a higher price tag compared to what the brand currently specifies. “In total, the new bedding carries about a 20% premium compared to the cost of the linens Radisson currently specifies.”
The Radisson Blu in Chicago, which is under development and is slated to open by the end of the year, will be the first property to debut the new bedding and Lambrecht is confident the new linens will be well received by the guests. “The new bedding makes sense for the hotels and it is definitely something guests will notice. They will have a wonderful night’s sleep—they may not know the particulars of why—but guests always remember a great experience. That’s marketing you cannot put a price on,” he said.