I remember watching an appealing TV commercial produced by Cotton Incorporated, an organization dedicated to increasing the demand for cotton. The catch phrase from the song in the ad was, “Cotton, the fabric of your life.” I thought the writer could have easily added, “and the fabric of your luxury vacation.” It seems that travel consultants are adding fluff to their sales consultations in the form of cotton, Egyptian that is. It’s not unusual to hear an agent talk to a client about a luxury vacation emphasizing suite size, dining choices and of all things, thread count!
It shouldn’t be surprising though. Pampered royalty have always enjoyed the luxury of thread count, and they’ve always known that Egyptian cotton is the cashmere of cotton. Legend has it that Queen Victoria’s handkerchiefs were made of thread counts so high they would float in the air like feathers. Egyptian cotton is a breathable fabric, doesn’t produce lint, has a luxurious feel and softens with age. But how did Egyptian cotton get from the Queen’s hand to the St. Regis Hotel or a Silversea ship?
The trend to high quality bedding as part of a travel package began on land in 1999 when Starwood’s Westin brand introduced its Heavenly Bed. The chain realized that executives staying at their properties were sleep deprived, so as a strategy to keep them rested and happy, they introduced luxury bedding.
Ironically, even though luxury ships were already using superior bedding, it was the mass market brand Carnival who introduced the Carnival Bed Ensemble to cruising in 2005 highlighting the importance of sleep comfort at sea. Now, luxury bedding brands like Frette, Anichini and Pratesi are outfitting lavish beds and berths with linens worthy of aristocrats.
And, luxury doesn’t stop with sheets and pillow cases. Many upscale ships and hotels now offer a menu of pillows to choose from. In the case of luxury cruises, the pillows are delivered by butlers. According to J. D. Power & Associates, a comfortable bed and pillow choices are must-haves for travelers. Beds and pillows weren’t even in the top five travel desires just a decade ago.
It’s definitely worth educating clients that, whether in a luxury hotel room on a pre or post cruise package, or on the ship, bedding is an amenity worth noting. And don’t forget to mention that cotton itself is historically known as a traveler. The cotton seed is so tough it has survived floating thousands of miles across oceans on the wind. That’s why, even though the plant is considered native to America and was only introduced to Egypt in the nineteenth century, botanists aren’t really sure where the first plants came from.
Perhaps Egyptian cotton was always destined to be part of the luxury travel market specifically. After all, the name cotton means fancy fabric. And, while its scientific name is Gossypium barbadense, its common name is as fitting to the luxury market as the beds and berths it hugs. It turns out Egyptian cotton is better known as Sea Island cotton.
In addition to who buys luxury vacations, why they buy them, and how to sell them, luxury bedding is just one of the fun things you’ll learn about on an accredited Platinum Seminars Workshop at Sea.
By Barbara Mangini