Hoteliers have more choices than ever when it comes to selecting materials for their bedding, with sheeting options ranging from polyester blends and microfiber to classic cotton, and other materials offering protection from moisture and bedbugs.
Greg Eubanks, group VP, hospitality sales & marketing at Standard Textile, said that cotton sheets are still king in most hotels—but microfiber is gaining ground in some economy properties. "It is very inexpensive [to purchase] and it's very inexpensive to process because it's all polyester,” he said, acknowledging that the fabric, when brushed properly, can feel soft, but has a limited lifespan. It also does not absorb moisture well, he added, making it less comfortable between washings.
Eubanks said, the “Holy Grail” of hotel linen is to have something that feels and gives the experience of 100 percent cotton, but performs like a synthetic in terms of durability. Standard Textile has a proprietary product the company calls Centium Core Technology, which features a microfilament core surrounded by cotton. The microfiber, Eubanks explained, gives the sheet “a tremendous amount of strength while the cotton is absorbent and it feels terrific to the skin.” Hybrid products like this, he said, could be the wave of the future.
Higher Thread Count Doesn’t Mean Higher Quality
Linen manufacturers have been promoting thread counts as a metric of quality for years, but numbers can be deceiving. “A lot of people play games with thread counts, using double-pick insertion or twisted yarns to elevate the thread count,” said Chris Gowdy, VP of Riegel Linen. “But really, a T-300 to T-400 is really all you need when it comes to luxury because it's going to give you a nice soft feel [and] it's going to last a long time.” Riegel Linen’s 60/40 cotton/poly blend T-300 sheeting is a “real workhorse” for luxury hotels, he added. "It's really the proper blend. If you get a lower [thread count] than that, that's more of a low end [sheet and] not proper for a hotel."
With 200 threads per square inch, the DreamCotton linens in Mascioni’s Hotel Collection may seem to have a low thread count, but Angelo Fugazza, the collection’s brand manager, argued the percale can stand up to industrial laundry machines while remaining crisp and smooth. The sheets are made with 100 percent Supima cotton that does not require ironing and dries 50 percent faster than regular percale sheets, making it a greener option for hotels, Fugazza added.
Protecting the Bed
With some hotel beds retailing at $3,000 and higher, hoteliers understandably want to protect their investments. "Most people can replace their traditional mattress pads with mattress encasements and then they get longer life out of the mattress itself," said Eubanks. Older encasements, however, can be hard to fit onto the mattress, can radiate heat back up to the guest and can have a loud "crunchy" sound if made with plastics. "The new technology is twofold," Eubanks said. Not only is the material as silent as regular linens, the pieces are easy for a housekeeper to remove and add to the laundry. "As the average age of housekeepers continues to go up, back injuries are the No. 1 injury in housekeeping," he said. "You don't want them having to lift mattresses, so having a mattress encasement that zips off and zips back on is really convenient."
Protect-A-Bed’s Miracle Membrane is a proprietary fabric that Nicole Pasik, director of marketing at Focus Products Group International, describes as being like a film for a mattress. The product is air permeable, but repels water and prevents bed bugs from biting through. The protectors, Pasik said, are tested to withstand up to 200 washes and are designed to last as long as a typical hotel mattress lasts, between seven and 10 years.
While preventing bed bugs certainly should be front-of-mind for hoteliers, waterproofing a mattress is no less important. “Even if [guests] don't spill anything, the average person sweats considerably at night,” Pasik said. “It's just human nature. And so as you lose that moisture while you sleep, that moisture—if there's not a waterproof barrier between the sleeper and the mattress—will seep into those fibers and it'll start to break down the fibers over time.”