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Sleeping in ‘The New Normal’

Guests will see quite a few changes during a stay, and probably most be in contact with the beds’ mattresses, pillows, toppers and duvets in their room. Jan Raycroft sought some peace of mind from experts.

All over the world, hospitality accommodation providers face operating in a new environment that has never been seen before. As the sector looks at adjusting to a new type of ‘normal’, there’s no doubt that building confidence and trust for guests will be of paramount importance. With that in mind, one thing that has remained consistent is that providing a safe, comfortable and sustainable night’s sleep is the absolute priority. Peace of mind and trust with guests is something that has always been a key focus for hospitality accommodation providers, but following the COVID-19 pandemic, this has taken on a whole new meaning. As Chris Ward, marketing director at Hypnos Beds, reveals, many established brands are facing a fresh start as they themselves look to prove that their products line is totally hygienic and reliable but remains as comfortable as ever. “We work closely with our hospitality partners of all sizes across the world to ensure they have confidence in a key component of a guest’s experience. Firstly, there needs to be absolute assurance in the integrity and hygiene of the products,” says Ward.

Every Hypnos Contract Bed comes with their anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-bed bug treatment on all sides. The beds comply with relevant fire retardancy standards and bases can be upholstered with water-repellent fabrics for additional protection. This provides extra assurances to not only the guest, but also the hospitality accommodation provider, adding a layer of trust with a five-year guarantee. The focus on sustainability will still be with us, says Ward: “Only natural and sustainable materials are used in all our mattresses, with no nasty chemical-based foams at all, making them completely recyclable at the end of their life. These kind of sustainable sleep solutions allow our hospitality partners to bolster their own green credentials which are vitally important to discerning guests. “Finally, and very importantly, brands know that their guests’ actual sleep comfort and experience will be a defining factor in how enjoyable their stay is, whether it’s one night or an extended stint. With our long history of providing true comfort to the best hotels, homes and palaces around the world, this is something that we’re able to cater for, providing not only comfort, but comfort with integrity.” One thing’s for sure, there will be no ‘unmentionables’ in ‘The New Normal’, even if guests don’t particularly want to talk about some aspects of bed hygiene. But rest assured they will be scrutinising their beds for all kinds of bug protection in the same way many automatically checked the recycling capability and provenance of those little bottles in their bathrooms.

It’s not surprising therefore that Gary Goldberg, founder and CEO of CleanBrands, is proud that his business was the first to gain CDC Level 4 virus barrier certification for their MicronOne waterproof fabric. It’s used in a number of products including their CleanRest PRO mattress encasement which comes with a 10 year warranty, the CleanRest PRO Max with its four sided protection for flippable mattresses, and the quilted and easy to remove CleanRest Platinum. Then there are mattress protectors and the CleanRest PRO Max Pillow Protector, a new product set to become a favourite for its combined antimicrobial, virus barrier, and waterproof but ‘breathable’ construction.

This solves the issue of pillow contamination and how to guarantee sanitation between guest stays. An internal vent allows air to escape so the waterproof pillow protector does not balloon. The vent creates a better sleep experience by allowing complete airflow ensuring a cool and comfortable night’s sleep. It also enables faster pillow insertion and ends the constant need for housekeeping staff to push air out.

Goldberg says: “Our third generation textile product inventor takes great pride in designing products that provide significant housekeeping operating savings. And we think this is even more critical as hotels plan to increase the laundering frequency of bedding layers due to COVID-19. We estimate CleanRest encasement time-saving design features will save £30 in reduced lifetime housekeeping labour costs.”

This includes the patented Zip-NClick zipper enclosure which just requires a snap to close, open and inspect, unlike difficult to use and unsightly zip-ties, or Velcro flaps which can create new nesting areas for bed bugs. Colour-coded size labels aid in sorting, while larger green zipper pulls are easier to find. Stretch sidewalls make the encasements “fit like a glove but go on like a sock,” says Goldberg. The optic white fabric aids in bed bug inspection, while vented ends on the PRO Max encasements inhibit ballooning during installation.

Vision has been testing and trialling an innovative antimicrobial technology for the past two years. It’s added to pillows and duvets at the point of manufacture, which they have branded ‘More Than Clean’. This is something quite different from what has been seen on the market before – a new type of ‘clean’.

They’ve known for some time that the technology has a 99.99 per cent efficacy against harmful pathogens including E-coli and MRSA, and the testing was done to ensure it could stand up within a commercial environment. Now recent test results of bed and bath linen show that it helps to protect against the spread of COVID-19, killing over 80 per cent more than untreated textiles.

Fraser Donaldson, group hospitality and marketing director, says: “With this knowledge, the business took the moral decision that all future filled bed linen should come as standard with the antimicrobial technology applied, providing the much need reassurance to hotel guests. We know many hotels are taking the steps to improve their cleaning programmes and our More Than Clean linen offer provides a simple solution to one of the highest touch points within a hotel.”

Additional benefits include eliminating odours and harmful bacteria which might cause illness. It is kind and gentle to human skin and free of restricted substances, sustainable, and proven to last 50 washes with over 95.6 per cent efficacy.

A selection of immediately available products within Vision’s stock which already feature the new antimicrobial technology, include the V233 Microfibre pillow (Arlington) with its blend of non-allergenic microfibre filling giving the nearest feel to natural filling, whilst providing guests with a sumptuous option suitable for all. It features a 233-thread count, 100 per cent cotton cover and piped edges with twin needle stitch. Also available is the V233 Interblend duvet (Lanesborough) featuring interblend technology and stylish trends to produce a sumptuous, lightweight and luxurious duvet. It has a 233-thread count 100 per cent cotton cover with a special down interblend filling. The More Than Clean linen collection is available immediately at a small percentage increase, but with clear benefits.

As a UK bed and mattress manufacturer, Mattison Contract Beds have a distinguished history in providing products to the hotel and contract market. MD Stephen Eccles openly admits: “It would be egregious of us to suggest that the purchase of new beds and mattresses is a silver-bullet, particularly when considered in context that cash flow for many businesses has been, at worst, nonexistent for months and, at best, severely impacted.” But with Mattison as a nominated supplier of CleanRest products to the UK market, Eccles sees this as a very worthwhile financial investment that won’t break the bank while taking the best actions you can to protect guests. Of course, some businesses had budgeted for necessary bed or mattress replacements this year and if you have funds available this will impress guests. Eccles says “Beds within our hotel range offer varying levels of natural and hypoallergenic fillings, which offer some degree of protection against COVID-19.” They recommend their Natural Comfort and Natural Supreme mattresses, coupled with a mattress encasement for additional peace of mind.

Mattison keep a close watch on bed cleaning news and noted that Gem McLuckie, a microbiologist for Dyson, revealed that we should be vacuuming our mattresses on both sides once a week. Speaking to the Daily Mail, the expert said that because the virus causes respiratory infections, it’s important to properly clean the areas where we sleep. Nigel Smith, sales manager at Mattison Contract Beds, adds: “No action taken alone will be sufficient to give your guests confidence, and a package of measures will be required. From small measures, such as mattress and pillow protectors, to more significant measures such as replacing mattresses and bed bases, these will need to be backed up by robust cleaning and sanitisation processes.”

Star Linen, who also supply the full range of CleanBrand protection products, point out that guests can tell immediately if pillows and duvets have had their best day as they lose their volume and begin to look flat and tired. Naturally, this will now lead to other unwelcoming concerns for the guest. On duvets they recommend a 10.5 tog as is great all-rounder for all UK seasons and, considering when your new ‘peak bookings’ might be it’s time to look at the filling options available. Hollowfibre filling is a great choice for warmer months as it is lightweight and the space between the fibres makes the duvet more breathable which is perfect for summer. Star Linen’s Hilltop range of pillows and duvets are hollowfibre filled with a smooth and soft microfibre cover, making it easy to load into the pillowcase, not to mention the price point is easy on the wallet.

Microfibre, with its more tightly woven fibres, helps to trap heat so may be more suitable for colder nights, creating warmth without the weight. Star Linen’s Clarence range includes all seasons duvets and pillows. The finely coated siliconised fibre ensures that they can move through the duvet and the T230 cotton cover makes the duvet breathable, so hot air can escape and help to maintain the sleep temperature. It also has the added advantage of being hypoallergenic so will delight any guests with allergies.

Richard Haworth have introduced some innovative products to keep both guests and staff safe, right down to The Personal Protection Pack which includes a disposable face mask, pair of comfortable gloves and a hygienic cleansing wipe. But as a major supplier of bed, bath and table linens, their focus is firmly on ‘the hidden essentials’ within hotel rooms, with their Sleep Guard products designed to protect bedding from germs and damage, yet also providing a great night’s sleep that guests remember.

Their Jersey mattress protector has three layers of polyurethane for ultimate protection against bacteria, dust mites and microbes, and can be washed up to 90 degrees. It features a cotton jersey skirt that holds the protector perfectly in place and, as there is no PVC, guaranteeing a blissfully quiet sleep. The protector is also available in a fully enclosed mattress option, providing maximum protection and a pillow protector to keep pillows fresh and damage free.

Richard Haworth duvets have been designed to stand up to the wear and tear regular hotel use brings and include natural and synthetic options. Their bestselling microfibre duvet features a beautiful 100 per cent cotton percale cover and top quality filling to provide the synthetic equivalent to a down duvet. The Tencel duvet contains an eco-friendly combination of softer Tencel and comfy polyester fibres.

Their best-selling Clusterfill pillows are non-allergenic and feature a fine denier filling that makes them a super soft bounce back pillow. David Stockton of Richard Haworth says: “Neither synthetic nor natural pillows are designed to withstand the volume of washes it would take to wash after each guest, so a pillow protector is an additional barrier to protect the pillow and also avoid passing anything on to other guests. Our Prima Pillow protector is made from a revolutionary plain weave cotton rich fabric which allows it to be washed at high water temperatures to sanitise, features a handy zip closure to fully protect the pillow and is rustle free for a peaceful night’s sleep.”

Sherry Textiles have a range of competitively priced protectors with a choice of polycotton or microfibre cover, with the option of a waterproof backing, each offering an additional layer of comfort. Their protectors are easily laundered and provide a quick and simple solution to providing a clean and fresh bed every time.

In addition, Sherry Textiles offer green tint pillows that are totally wipeable, allowing housekeeping staff to simply wipe down with an antibacterial solution to maintain high levels of cleanliness. These pillows have a polypropylene cover with a hollowfibre filling and are flame retardant to BS7175 Ignition Source 5. This 450g pillow measures 48cm x 71cm and is sold in pairs.

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