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Mr Slim Dunk

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When Starwood Hotels & Resorts International introduced Westin's Heavenly Bed program five decades back, it generated a Goldilocks effect--now more hotel organizations are rethinking their beds and creating their own bedding futon mattress programs to find one that is just perfect.

 Going back before the Heavenly Bed, Four Seasons has been Recognized for beds, '' said contract manager of marketing and sales for Sealy, Leo Vogel.

 "Isadore Sharp, the c.e.o. [of Four Seasons], always emphasized that," Vogel said. "He said that in a great resort, you have to have great company, a excellent clean room, fantastic beds and a fantastic shower. What we've noticed is that consumers respond to that. By boosting the Heavenly Bed and now the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper, Starwood improved their occupancies and [average daily prices] and consequently the most important thing."

 For many years, futon mattresses were chosen by the resort sector based on cost, based on Bob Malin, v.p. of merchandising and mind of Serta's contract division.

 "The less costly the mattress, the better for the resorts, Because they buy a lot of," Malin said. "There has been a significant change in the mattress industry concerning contract bedding within the past ten years. That is because hotels accomplished guest satisfaction is of primary importance, and the most precious thing that they must sell is a fantastic night's sleep."

 Hoteliers are realizing that people are demanding a mattress equal to or better than the mattressthey have in the home, even if they're Traveling, said Randy Loebig, v.p. of sales and marketing to Spring Air.

 "For years and years, that has been overlooked," Loebig said. "There was the mentality that if people traveled they arrived to the resort, but spent most of their time from the room working or doing actions. The comfort of the bed wasn't as crucial. That's not the situation, and what they're doing and finding is taking the lead of what Starwood did. Now more and more other flags have taken steps to enhance the quality and comfort of the futon mattresses that they have."

 Malin said resort operators need comfort for guests, however Need futon mattresses that will endure. He pointed to Serta's Comfort Quilt, a quilting of convoluted foam and fiber in the cover of the mattress in the sleeping surface, he stated provides guests a more restful sleep. A continuous wire unit at the box spring leaves the bedding more durable.

 One of Sealy's comfort attributes is its UniCased structure system.

 "We use a polyolefin perimeter that is welded to a base That interacts very well with the the box spring," Vogel said. "It provides you an encased futon mattress so it's the structural integrity. If you are feeling that the side of the mattress, you do not feel the coils, you are feeling that the foam. It gives greater support round the perimeter. When folks sit on the mattress, they don't feel the boundary wire. That is gone because the foam is there."

 You can really bend the mattress without Damaging it, making it easier for installation, Vogel said.

 Spring Air enlarged its higher-end futon mattresses using more plush pillowtop and Euro-pillow-top designs. This helps cater to an aging population.

 "If you look at the traveling people now, the baby boomer Creation has more leisure time and more disposable income and, because of their age, demands futon mattresses that are more conforming and more comfortable," Loebig said. "When you are younger, you can pretty much adapt to some sleep surface, but when you get older, it doesn't work like that."

 Safety is also directing mattress technology. Regulations in California that take effect Jan. 1 require retail mattresses and box springs manufactured for sale in California to be open-flame resistant. Prompted by California's Technical Bulletin 603, mattress manufacturers are creating new products for resorts.

 Serta is adding open-flame resistance protection to all of its own Hospitality futon mattresses with a method named FireBlocker. The new mattresses already are being used in some resorts.

 "We've made a commitment that every mattress that we manufacture for hospitality, Starting Jan. 1, 2005, will possess the FireBlocker system, and that is not only in California, it's across the entire United States," Malin said. "Serta is going to the added expense because we want to supply a safer mattress"

 The company also wants to be more proactive because a national law Likely will be passed shortly, he said.

 The eventuality of a federal fire code standard, likely in 2006, and ecological concerns are impacting product design at Sealy, Vogel said.

 "I visit the continuing evolution of improved technologies as far As foams and fibers," he said. "If you take a look at what is available now compared to even 3 years back, it's almost day and night."

 Fire codes have also helped influence the trend One-sided mattress construction.

 "What that Permits You to do is have a tighter match between The mattress and the box spring, and this can be critical to the fire testing and also the fire codes," Vogel said.

 Additionally, It allows manufacturers to put more upholstery materials on The side of the mattress that the guest sleeps on, which elevates the comfort levels, he added.

 The ability to place more upholstery layers onto one side instead of Than either side also helps producers to make more stable futon mattresses and avoid height issues.

 "If you are continually building up either side of the futon Mattress, pretty soon you receive a mattress that is so thick you can't find sheets for it or it's so heavy you can't flip it over," Vogel said.

 In the future, Malin jobs that mattresses will probably be even sexier.

"When you Speak to hoteliers today, one of the things They're considering is, 'How do I make my mattress seem plusher when guests walk in the room?'" He said. "Among the things we are considering is how can we make the mattress set look thicker without causing problems for the sheets, dust ruffles and bedspreads."

 Loebig said he thinks the lavish look and feel will be able to be Achieved with less depth.

 "We have kind of exhausted how large and we can Make mattresses," he explained. "We could still make mattresses comfortable, conforming and plush, that feel fantastic but don't need to be quite as thick. I think you're likely to see the beginning of the slimming down of mattresses. Only the practical side of this informs you that it's very difficult for housekeeping to rotate the mattress, or if it's a two-sidedmattress, flip it. It is very hard to do since they're heavy."