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Book Your Hotel for its Bedding Options

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One of the things that can turn travel into a nightmare is lack of sleep — and the problem can begin before you even leave home.

Anxiety about getting everything done in preparation for your absence, and the rush to pack everything you anticipate you'll need while you're away, often causes sleepless nights before flight.

And, that's just the beginning. At the airport, already tired and perhaps a bit cranky, you find yourself standing on long lines to check in and clear security, and then sitting around in uncomfortable gate areas while waiting to board your plane.

You figure you'll get some sleep after takeoff. But it's not easy to sleep deeply when you're body is constantly reacting to changes in air pressure, the pains of sitting for several hours in a seat designed for someone else's physique and, most likely, in-flight dehydration. Flight is physically stressful, and stress is exhausting. So, even if you manage to doze, flying is tiring.

If you want to feel awake and energized enough to enjoy your journey, it's essential for you to catch up on sleep when you get to your destination. But, depending on circumstances and your habits, that might not be so easy either. You're not only overtired at this point, you're also so excited about exploring and enjoying a new place that sleep is out of the question — even if your eyelids are at half-mast.

So, you figure you'll get some sound sleep when — depending upon how many time zones you've jumped — night falls. But here's the real problem: Not all travelers find it easy to doze off anywhere. Many find it quite difficult to fall asleep in a new place with an unknown bed, a different pillow and an unfamiliar ambience. Another sleepless night can be a major setback. No fun at all.

Thank goodness the hospitality industry is addressing the problem: Many hotels are helping to resolve travelers' sleep issues by offering guests an accommodating, often exclusive, selection of bed and bedding options. Better bedding is a travel industry trend that began in 1999, when Westin introduced the appealing "Heavenly Bed," a firm mattress clad in spotless white sheets and draped with a freshly laundered white duvet, designed to be a sleeper's treat and better than any bed anyone had at home.

In fact, it's so comfortable, many Westin guests order the entire ensemble for their homes.

Westin's Heavenly Bed success awoke the industry to signature bedding's potential to distinguish hotels brands, develop guest loyalty and capture market share. Hoteliers put a lot of time — and money — into introducing a wide range of grade-A bedding amenities that set weary travelers up for a good, restful, restoring and reenergizing sleep.

At present, luxury chains and boutique hotels — such as Four Seasons properties worldwide or The Benjamin, a chic business traveler's retreat in New York — boast of lavish made-to-order 100 percent cotton high-thread-count linens and pillow menus offering a choice of headrests varying in shape, substance and softness.

The Benjamin even has a sleep concierge to shepherd you through your bedding options. And, if you're still up all night counting sheep because you find bed and bedding uncomfortable, the hotel will give you your money back.

Of course, for their nightly prices — from about $300 at The Benjamin or $400 at the Four Seasons at Beverly Hills — those establishments should guarantee a good night's sleep.

Fortunately, you don't have to pay that much for great bed options. For example, down the road from the Four Seasons at Beverly Hills, the sleep-friendly Radisson Hotel at LAX — a popular overnighter for transit travelers desperately in need of sleep — offers Sealy Sleep-by-Number mattresses made exclusively for Radisson for a $20 surcharge over the room rate (from a moderate $139 per night). The sleep-by-number's dual controls allows you and your mate to adjust each side of the bed to your liking. And, you choose from three types of pillows without extra charge.

"We offer many guest amenities, but guest surveys show great beds are high priority," says Deborah Lusby, Radisson LAX's marketing director. "Radisson's responding to guest demand by providing great beds for reasonable rates."

When you're tired, that's just what you want. So, always inquire about bedding options before booking a hotel.

To find out more about Jennifer Merin and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 JENNIFER MERIN

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



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