OperationsAn Inside Look at Mattresses: Delving Into the Technology Prior to Procurement

An Inside Look at Mattresses: Delving Into the Technology Prior to Procurement

A high-quality mattress promotes the restful sleep that is one of the fundamental offerings of the hotel industry. But even top-tier mattresses eventually need replacing, and at that point procurement will need to investigate the products in the ever-evolving bedding market. Given the variety of products in terms of price point and features, it’s best to start this exploration well before the warranty expires on the hotel’s current mattresses, advised David Wiles, director of Tempur Sealy’s Hospitality Division. “Our goal through testing is to keep a consistent sleep experience throughout the life of the product installed in hotels,” he said. “But I would say [hotel operators] probably need to start reviewing the product and guest satisfaction around year eight, with the intention to start budgeting the replacement and looking at all the new products, because it takes time.”

Acquiring an understanding of the nuances in mattress technology is often part of that time-consuming review process. To help buyers make informed choices, Wiles and Karen Goossens, marketing manager, Denver Mattress, shared their insights into two key mattress components—springs and foam—as well as cooling technology, a feature that is growing in popularity.

Open Coil vs. Pocket Springs

Open-coil springs are connected by a wire to form a unified support system, while pocket springs are isolated from each other and individually wrapped, thus offering more zoned support and responsiveness to body weight and shape. “I have seen hoteliers focus more on the individually wrapped coils,” observed Goossens. “The coils in that support system are not tied to the other coils and the rest of the mattress, which minimizes the motion transfer.” She added that pocket-spring mattresses range from “the budget line all the way up to the luxury line. We’ve focused on getting more of our models for hospitality to include individually wrapped coils because it is a feature that people really like.”

Wiles noted that not all pocket springs are created equal, explaining that both pocket and open-coil springs can be engineered to varying degrees of quality. The gauge of the metal, number of turns in the spring, the material of the wrapping, whether the wrap is sewed or glued (and how much glue is used) all factor into the durability of a pocket coil. Another issue to keep in mind is the greater weight of pocket-coil mattresses. “There is a huge push either by unions or executives to lower weight within products that are being produced because of the impact on housekeeping and operations,” Wiles said. “Just to provide some perspective, a King open-coil unit that we produce is going to be around 85 pounds, while a King individually pocketed coil unit is going to be around 120 pounds.”

Foam Properties

The higher the foam density, the more support and durability, which especially favors side sleepers as it can relieve stress on the hips and shoulders. “High-density foam provides better pressure-point relief, and it holds up better over time as well,” said Goossens. Memory foam, a type of high-density foam, is slower to bounce back to its original state (retaining the “memory” of the body impression) than the standard gel polyfoam.

But it’s inaccurate to assume that the popularity and greater expense of high-density foams means they offer superior comfort across the board. “I wouldn’t say they are better; I would say they are different,” said Wiles. “And the reason is that some individuals are not a fan of really deep foams. We all sleep very differently; our bodies are different.” Differences in preferences can also be cultural; international guests from Asia, for example, are often accustomed to very firm mattresses. “Ultimately, we try to create a product that works for the masses in hospitality,” said Wiles, adding that Tempur Sealy studies on some of its brands have yielded a 93 percent guest satisfaction rate. “It’s not 100 percent, because it’s impossible to get to 100 percent.”

Phase-Change Materials

For guests who “sleep hot,” PCMs are a welcome advancement in mattress cooling technology. Incorporated as a gel, these materials change their phase (solid, liquid, or vapor) to absorb or release energy and thereby regulate the mattress’ temperature. They are especially useful in higher density foams. “Memory foam can be great for pressure-point relief, but it can tend to sleep a little bit warmer because it’s a super-dense foam,” Goossens noted. “So, usually cooling features are added when there’s memory foam.” Because searching for a cool spot on the mattress will tend to interrupt REM sleep, the less often a sleeper must adjust, the better. “The particular area that you’re adjusting to essentially has fresh PCMs that weren’t impacted by your body,” Wiles explained.

Quality Vendor Partners

Sourcing a new mattress product requires not only an understanding of mattress technology and guest preferences, but also a knowledge of the business and service practices of the mattress supplier. For example, Denver Mattress, the country’s largest factory-direct mattress retailer, is focused on accommodating hotel clients’ time constraints for mattress delivery and installation. “Anytime a hotelier is purchasing mattresses, it’s a big project because they’re trying to work around their own schedule of having the rooms available for installation,” Goossens observed. “And so, we try to work with their timeline. If they can tell us when they’re needing them, we’ll plan to produce them and ship them on their timeline.”

Another aspect is the sustainability practices of the vendor, which is an increasingly important criterion for hotel supplier partners. Tempur Sealy, the world’s largest mattress manufacturer, releases an annual ESG report to ensure its clients are aware of its practices and achievements in this area, such as the use of 100 percent renewable energy in all the company’s wholly owned logistics and manufacturing facilities worldwide. “We also said we’re going to achieve zero percent landfill waste coming out of our manufacturing facilities in North America by 2023, and when we put out our annual social values report in 2023, we said we accomplished that goal,” Wiles noted. “We also have future sustainability goals that we are working toward from a manufacturing standpoint that we’ll continue to track and report.”

The “Robotic Test”: Tempur Sealy Goes the Extra Mile to Ensure Mattress Durability

The longer a mattress can provide a quality sleep experience, the more ROI the hotelier gets on that product. Thus, mattress manufacturers deploy tests to ensure their product will deliver on its warranty and encourage clients to purchase the product again. David Wiles, director of Tempur Sealy’s Hospitality Division, noted that the standard for such tests should be higher for mattresses intended for hotel use. “We test our products to a higher level than the industry standards. On the retail side, we test to 100,000 cycles, but for the standardized testing in hospitality, we take that testing up to 150,000 units or testing cycles,” he explained. “We do that because hotel beds are used differently than you would use them in your home; the impact is greater than in a residential setting.”

The two traditional tests are the Rollator and Cornell, developed in the 1910s and 1950s, respectively. The former involves a 240-pound hexagonal roller that is passed back and forth along the full width of the mattress, while the latter uses a dual-sphere shaped, 230-pound head that repeatedly impacts a spot on the mattress. Both tests are conducted with enough cycles to simulate 10 years of use. “We have developed a proprietary ‘Robotic Test’ that goes above and beyond these methods,” said Wiles. The 180-pound, sensor-equipped robot has a human shape and can apply both rolling pressure (like the Rollator test) and sitting pressure (like the Cornell test). But unlike these classic tests, the Robotic Test replicates the pressures of an actual human body and is thus much closer to the wear a mattress will undergo in a real-life scenario. Ultimately, “we want to make sure that we see a low level of foam density loss and no breakage within inner springs or edge-support failures,” Wiles explained. GS

George Seli
George Seli
George Seli is the editor of LODGING.