Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team

Mystery of Mattresses Uncovered

As an innkeeper and homemaker I have always been baffled by the mattress industry. Did you ever have a mattress salesperson give you a straight answer? The more you shopped, the more confused you got.

Recently Rick and I ventured out to buy a new mattress. Just by chance we stopped in at America’s Mattress in Scarborough, Maine which just happened to be next door to a golf shop, (guess where we shopped first)? We were greeted by a salesman who turned out to be the answer to my mattress shopping dreams. He was smart and boy did he know his business. He had great questions which helped us narrow down our choices to three mattresses and we were able to make a choice and purchase within 30 minutes. Hallelujah!

Because I was so impressed with our salesman, Ed Walters, I decided to give him a call and interview him for this blog posting. I thought if he could be helpful to individuals choosing a mattress than he would most likely have some good advice for innkeepers when purchasing mattresses for the wide variety of body types that seek that ‘heavenly, blissful and perfect sleep’ in your inns.

Question: “What is the main ingredient innkeepers should look for in purchasing a mattress?”

“Support is # 1 and comfort level is # 2. The mattress should be a combination of the two. Innkeepers need to satisfy a host of different people and personal preferences. A very firm or a very soft, cushier feel may not be the way to go. A medium firm spring (support) and a medium compression topper (comfort level) is a good way to go.”

Question: “The longevity of mattresses seems to vary widely. How long should a mattress last?”

“A good quality mattress should last from 8 to 10 years, an entry level mattress will only last 4 to 8. All mattress manufacturers give you a warranty. For example a good ‘rule of thumb’ is a mattress that offers a 20 Year Warranty will last at least 10 years.”

Question: “So what you are saying is pretty basic, the more expensive, or higher level mattress the longer it will last?”

“Not more expensive necessarily, but yes, a good quality mattress built with quality materials.”

Question: “This leads into my next question. Innkeepers are generally shopping with a budget in mind while looking for good value but not skimping on quality. What do you recommend for innkeepers?”

“I have good long time relationships with my hospitality customers. When we have sales or when we need to clear out our floor samples, I will call these customers and work with them and their budgets.”

“This sounds like a win, win situation. You clear out your floor samples and the innkeepers get good deals. Just like innkeepers need to build personal relationships with their guests, you are building relationships with your loyal customers with your personalized service.”

“Sounds good to me!”

Question: “In the May 2010 Consumer Report magazine, a ‘sleep specialist’ says you might want to avoid memory-foam mattresses if you sleep ‘hot’, that is tend to be warm in bed. What is your opinion on that statement?”

“That is a broad statement. Memory Foam is a ‘closed cell foam design’ which restricts air flow and can be very warm. Latex is an ‘open cell design’ which can be temperature regulating and can offer better ventilation. A firm coil spring mattress with a natural foam latex topper is a good combination. Also, nothing lives in latex (like germs, bacteria, etc.) and latex doesn’t pack down as quickly as fabric.”

I had many more questions for Ed, but decided to keep this blog posting short and not too complicated (like mattress shopping!). What I got from his statements is that the main ingredients to consider when purchasing a mattress is support, comfort and durability, all three of equal importance. Also, looking for a good quality medium firm and medium compression topper is a smart choice for the many body types that seek a comfortable sleep in your inn’s beds. And don’t skimp on the quality, you don’t want to have to replace your mattresses every 4 years! But a very important ingredient in our viewpoint at The B&B Team is finding a person like Ed who gives great customer service and a company you can trust and feel comfortable working with. This is something we at The B&B Team also strive for. Time is a most precious commodity with innkeepers and having the service that Ed provides for his hospitality customers is priceless and timeless.

Thanks Ed!

Do you all know what fairytale the picture depicts?


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3 Responses to “Mystery of Mattresses Uncovered”

  1. Mary White says:

    Great article Janet about two important things…good nights sleep and good customer service. Had the princess in the Princess and the Pea been sleeping on mattresses that Ed recommended she might never have been able to prove herself a true princess.

  2. Bill Sheehan says:

    Back several decades ago every mattress ad shouted Super Firm, Xtra Super Firm, up to Super Dooper ultra Firm as everyone wanted to avoid the sag in the middle (especially if the man outweighed his wife by 100 plus pounds and Queen was also the new size to get. Innkeepers with antique beds enlarged these to full and had one or two queens in top-of-the-line rooms. Now everyone wants softer and softer and kings are the norm in upscale homes so guests no longer will sleep in full size beds no matter how soft or firm they are.
    We eliminated most complaints by adding 2 inch “Swedish foam” toppers and put the thickest cotton pads on top (to stop sweating). To replace 13 mattresses at once was a budget killer but this temporary fix has held up for more than 10 years. We only buy the best Sealy pillow tops to replace old mattresses with the foam tops and have no complaints anymore. When guests ask where they can get such great foam pads we say both K-Mart and Wall-Mart sell these same foam toppers now for about $100 depending on the thickness you need. So if your old mattress is still firm and not sagging (plywood fixes this problem) just buy the topper and save yourself up to $2,000 per bed.
    Bill Sheehan
    Prospect Hill Plantation Inn
    Charlottesville, VA

  3. One other thing to consider are the health concerns related to traditional mattresses (mattresses made with flame-retardant chemicals). Latex or organic mattresses and bedding are a great, natural option and they do a great job providing the three key aspects of any mattress – support, comfort durability.