Be­tween the sheets

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

EST any­one think a bed’s a mere bed in the world of hos­pi­tal­ity, there’s what amounts to mat­tress wars afoot in five-star ho­tel land. Per­ish the prop­erty that doesn’t ap­pre­ci­ate the im­por­tance of puffy-fluffy beds that look like layer cakes with their cloud-soft mat­tress top­pers, high thread-count cot­ton sheets (Egyp­tian, please) and du­vets filled with squishy-soft feathers, prefer­ably hand-plucked by pix­ies from the breasts of just-born duck­lings and goslings.

Then there are the de rigueur pil­low menus, with cus­tomised styles that read like fac­tory-fresh cars with their eco-friendly fea­tures, neck-sup­port cham­bers and ‘‘ 800 fill power’’.

Hy­poal­ler­genic, stom­ach-soft, snore-re­lief, over­filled firm (firm but not hard), su­per-sized cud­dler, the cradling ma­ter­nity model, mem­ory foam con­tour (de­vel­oped by NASA for as­tro­nauts) and a pil­low filled with buck­wheat hulls, cy­press chips or even wa­ter . . . where will pil­low op­tions and the at­ten­dant bedding hype all end?

Well, it started for the Westin Ho­tels group in 1999 when it launched its ‘‘ 10-layer’’ Heav­enly Bed, ‘‘ an icon that [has] in­spired count­less im­i­ta­tors [and] jump-started the ho­tel re­tail phe­nom­e­non’’. Westin re­ports that in the past decade more than 75 mil­lion guests have ‘‘ tucked them­selves into Heav­enly Beds at Westin ho­tels around the world, in­clud­ing US pres­i­dents, Hol­ly­wood royalty and pro­fes­sional ath­letes’’.

There are about 97,000 Heav­enly Beds in about 65,000 Westin gue­strooms world­wide. Ap­par­ently more than 30,000 beds, 32,000 sheets and 100,000 pil­lows have been sold to guests and it’s this try-beforeyou-buy ex­ten­sion of the ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence that must have given con­ven­tional mat­tress re­tail­ers the shakes.

Of course, com­peti­tors have fol­lowed Westin’s charge and other branded ho­tel bedding kits in­clude the Mar­riott Re­vive, Sher­a­ton Sweet Sleeper and Sof­i­tel MyBed. It has to be ad­mit­ted that af­ter a week­end of happy se­ques­tra­tion at the Sof­i­tel Queen­stown, in New Zealand’s South Is­land,

ac­quired the Sof­i­tel MyBed: not the ac­tual bed but the mat­tress top­per, du­vet and pil­lows. In win­ter it’s di­vine, like sleep­ing in a bowl of warm whipped cream, but it’s too hot for the Syd­ney sum­mer, when it’s more like be­ing squashed in a waf­fle iron, so off it all goes, looking like a de­feated souf­fle, to the top of the wardrobe.

has been out of her cot for so many long years she can re­mem­ber when du­vet was a for­eign word. mother spoke reg­u­larly of ‘‘ doovers’’ when she couldn’t find the word she was search­ing for, be it a small kitchen ap­pli­ance or pow­der puff. It there­fore took Lit­tle a while to work out a du­vet was a feather-filled bed­cover and not a miss­ing doover at the bot­tom of mother’s ca­pa­cious hand­bag.

Westin’s mer­chan­dis­ing suc­cess has been so far­reach­ing that items are not just tai­lored to grown-up guests. There are Heav­enly Cribs for wee babes and, as the ul­ti­mate in in­dul­gence, the Heav­enly Dog Bed, billed as a ‘‘ soft, re­lax­ing place for one lucky dog;

Il­lus­tra­tion: Tom Jel­lett

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