Choosing the right duvet for your guests can be a tricky process. Here two high-end bedding companies discuss avoiding some of the pitfalls, and explain the lengths they have gone to produce a product fit for a luxury B&B, BILL LUMLEY, investigates.
For the consumer market buying a duvet has been a highly confusing procedure according to Jonathan Attwood, who co-founded high-end
bedding company Scooms with his wife Emily. Last month Scooms announced it had launched a trade department to supply the luxury B&B market. Explaining the move, Attwood tells Luxury Bed & Breakfast: “Going to a retailer a consumer might see 100 different items each purporting to be the best duvet. We decided to cut out all that clutter and asked: if you want the best night’s sleep, what is the perfect duvet?”
Often there are things out there that are not necessarily appropriate, he says. For example, he says, with anti-allergy bedding, synthetic material has more dust mites than natural material owing to the fact that it doesn’t breathe as much, and it traps moisture.
“There is a lot of misconception in the market, and our goal was to create the perfect duvet, at a reasonable price point,” he says.
In conducting their research and development they looked at the science behind what makes a great duvet and they came up with a list of elements they refer to as The Scooms Seven.He explains: “We found that natural materials were far better than manmade materials. Then we looked at temperature regulation, which is where natural materials come into their element. Down is the best natural mate- rial, because it has lots of small filaments that trap more air and keep you insulated in the winter, but at the same time there are lots of gaps which let moisture through, so the next thing is moisture control: people sweat an awful lot. If you have a luxury B&B you really don’t want lots of your guests sweating under a duvet. A synthetic duvet traps moisture and leads to dust mites.”
They also developed what they refer to as body contouring. Attwood explains: “Imagine two different-sized people in a bed. A duvet can ‘tent’ and go right over the top of one of them and thus feel neither as though it cuddles nor hugs you. We have developed the right mix of down inside the duvet in the right cotton casing so that it hugs your body. It sounds a small thing but it makes a vast difference,” he says.
Next, they looked at the whole construction so the down does not move. “It actually has a liner inside it as well, so the down is completely sealed in, preventing any small down from coming out, so it is very well protected,” he says. “Also, the quality of materials is great from a longevity point of view: down lasts a lot longer and can withstand washing and cleaning.
He adds: “When it comes to allergen resistance natural materials are a lot better than manmade fibres, they don’t give off petro-chemicals.”
The positive environmental theme does not end there, with all Scooms’ products’ down being washed in thermal spring water, thus proving very good for the environment.
Typically, Scooms supplies 4.5 and 9 tog duvets, so they can be used in summer or winter mixed and matched.
Attwood says: “They are designed with ingenious clips that fit the two together when they are doubled up for the winter season. We have found people like different tempera- tures – everybody is different, so particularly for the B&B market.
“In the weather that we have been enjoying this summer you just want a 4.5 tog duvet, but in spring and autumn you may prefer the heavier 9 tog. They two can be clipped
together or used separately.”
Underlying further the company’s green cre- dentials, the duvets also come in plastic free green storage bags, which during the summer months can keep the spare one protected.
“All our down is European single-sourced and ethically sourced, so we can source through the entire supply chain. We built the brand around high standards and ethics.
“All the duvets are delivered from the company’s UK warehouse and everything is delivered free the next day.”
Scooms is clearly the sort of brand you will expect to find in higher end B&Bs. Attwood says: “We are not in the business of making cheaper duvets, not least because of the high- grade materials we use.”
He insists that if you look in some duvets you can recognise that while they consist to an extent of – and purport to be – essentially down duvets, there is often a considerable amount of dust and other material.
Attwood claims: “We have found that when people across all age groups try our duvet they almost invariably come back and say it is the best night’s sleep they have ever had. Many peo- ple have tried lots of other duvets and struggled to find one that enables a good night’s sleep. We have had silver surfers, people who have had knee or hip operations who appreciate having just the right weight over them. People suddenly realise the importance of sleep and once they get our duvet they realise the difference it makes. If your B&B has phenomenal bed linen and duvet it makes a massive difference.”
He says the company is experience a highly positive reaction from the luxury B&B market so far. “People are increasingly realising the importance of sleep. We have found in the luxury B&B market they want a brand that is seen as being luxury rather than one that is any old sort of bed linen,” he says.
Once people try this bedding people want to get it themselves, he claims. Later this year the company will be launch a programme whereby the luxury B&B can have a card placed in the bedroom saying who the bedding is provided by and guests can order it to have delivered the next day to the B&B or to the guest’s own house. Combined with a commission structure, this provides some revenue for the B&B owner and may end up covering all the cost of providing the higher-end bedding.
Jeanette Sadler is hospitality business manag- er at The Fine Bedding Company Hospitality Division She says that there are factors that luxury B&B owners should consider when buying guest room duvets for luxury rooms.
“There are more considerations than ever before,as many hotels are now actively looking to convey environmentally-friendly messages to guests as well as meet consumer’s high expectations in terms of quality, comfort and hygiene,” she tells Luxury Bed & Breakfast.
“Often the first decision is whether to opt for natural filled products – often associated with really high-end bedding – or to cater for the hundreds of guests that might need fibre-filled products that won’t aggravate allergy symptoms. Many fibre-filled products are now so advanced that often guests cannot tell the difference between feather and down and synthetic fibres, one such example is with our new Smartdown duvet that mimics the finest Goose down on the market. This product also has exceptional environmental credentials, made from recycled materials and in an ECO factory.”
Another key consideration she says is the practicality of the products, for example the cost and ease of regularly washing duvets, pillows and toppers, and whether twin beds need to be turned into a double or king size.
“Housekeepers require products that have been developed specifically to meet the demands of busy commercial environments and high turnover rooms: products that are easy to use but don’t compromise on quality, that are effortlessly washable, preferably in-house, and are extremely long lasting (maintaining loft and structure). This is why our Spundown and Boutique Silk ranges are so popular.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FINISH
“The quality of the product – not only how it feels – but how it is finished is important. Qual- ity seams and edging will enhance the luxuriousness of the product and ensure products withstand regular use without deteriorating.
Choosing year-round duvets can provide a great deal of flexibility she says, especially in the UK where the weather can be unpredictable. “Altering the tog can help the quality of sleep in environments that might be too hot or too cold when the UK is experiencing weather extremes,” she adds.
She says there are key characteristics of the Fine Bedding Company Hospitality Division that differentiate the duvet products the company supplies from other brands.
An example of this she says is the company’s two-in-one Zip and“The company is part of Trend- setter International, which has over 100 years of expertise in filled bedding, and we manufacture and supply its own exclusive product ranges, designing and innovating in partnership with hoteliers’ needs in mind, delivering comfort, high quality and environmental credentials hotel guests will love. Being the manufacturer also means that it can custom make and tailor orders to specific requirements,” she says.
Link Dual Layer Topper. “This product has been created from the feedback received from hotels around the issues associated with Zip and Link beds. The solution provides the upmost comfort and a product that can convert in seconds from a super king topper to two twin toppers. No storage is required as it eliminates the need to have multiple toppers. It’s also, fully washable!” she adds.
“We have also created our own Smartfil micro fine fibre. Our duvets are created to be light, luxurious and breathable but offer the same tog as heavier duvets. They wash and dry incredibly well and wrap around the body.”
As with Scooms, the Fine Bedding Company has strong environmentally friendly credentials. The company’s award-winning Eco Factory uses 100% renewable energy sources and has a 19% lower carbon footprint on key product ranges compared to an industry standard duvet. The majority of cotton used is from BCI sources (Better Cotton Initiative – ensuring sustainable, ethical cotton production).
Sadler adds: “Our natural fill products also carry the highest standards and certifications in the industry regarding ethical sourcing.
These globally recognised quality assurances certify no live plucking or force-feeding practices occur in creating our feather and down duvets and pillows, and products are fully traceable.”
There are several common mistakes hospitality owners make that can be avoided when purchasing duvets, she says.
“A common perception is that heavier duvets are warmer than lighter products, which isn’t the case as it’s the tog rating is the indication of warmth. The weight of a duvet is about preferred comfort for the guest, for that tucked in feel, but there is a shift in the consumer market towards lighter more breathable bedding for quality of sleep,” she explains.
“The second scenario we experience is that there is an assumption that feather and down is better, and this may have been true 10-15 years ago, but most of the time hoteliers now prefer the practicalities of fibre-fill knowing that they are not compromising on the guest experience.
She says a single product will never meet expectations across the board, but there are products that tick a lot of boxes for most hoteliers and guests.
“Offering alternative pillows can often be enough of an option to meet guest’s sleeping preferences and choice can even be extended to different options of duvets. The choice of products in our collection generally means we can meet everyone’s requirements and, at the end of the day, it is generally down to their individual preference and need.”
This is clearly where B&Bs like The Mowbray in Eastbourne are offering guests a valuable service by giving them a pillow menu – a selection of five pillows from which to choose the one that promises guests the best night’s sleep.
This feature was first published in the August 2018 issue of Luxury B&B Magazine