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The Lap of Luxury: The Mansion at Forsyth Park Hotel

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The chic Mansion at Forsyth Park Hotel opened its doors in April, 2005,following in the footsteps of chains like Westin hotels who pioneered the Heavenly Bed® concept.

The 126 room hotel offers its guests only the best in the form of luxurious Belle Époque linens with a sky-high 400 thread count, 10" Simmons Beauty Rest mattresses, 3" Pillow Tex mattress covers, triple sheeting and two King and two Queen pillow shams on all beds.

 "We have never had anything but the high thread count and guest satisfaction is off the charts," says Jeff Fuller, general manager at the hotel. "You can't be in the ultra luxury market today and not have that luxury linen outlay."

But can you keep up with the Jones’ without huge outlays for new equipment in your laundry? This is the question that haunts a growing number of hospitality establishments.

In many upscale hotels and hospitals nationwide deluxe high thread counts of T-200 plus are replacing traditional T 130 – T-180 thread count for hotel and hospital fabrics.

Industry experts note that while the higher quality linens are pleasing to customers, they can often cause difficulties in the laundering process due to their size, thickness, easy wrinkling and sensitivity to bleach and high temperatures.

"A lot of hotels are on this marketing campaign of having better linens in their rooms – all the big hotel chains are doing it," says Rick Kelly marketing manager at Pellerin Milnor Corporation. "Then their choice becomes a) run longer hours to handle those linens or b) increase their laundry capacity on the flatwork and finishing side." While Fuller agrees that they have had to make some adjustments in the Mansion’s laundry to accommodate changes in the load size, he says that their laundry operation remains pretty similar to an operation handling traditional, lesser thread count linens.

"Because the luxury linens are 10 percent larger, yes it's true you cannot put as many sheets into a 50lb washer," he says. "And because of our linen quality we have a larger second shift of laundry personnel. For example, we have three people working instead of one. That's the 3pm - 11pm shift where they are keeping the washers and dryers going and feeding the ironer. And yes, our flatwork ironer is probably in use 30-45 more minutes a day because of these high quality linens."

But according to Fuller these are the only adjustments they've had to make to handle high thread count, luxury linens.

"The temperature is still 140 degrees on hot water which is what we would use on regular sheets and the chemical amounts are not different - it's all still the same," he adds.

Kamilah Jackson is the hotel's assistant executive housekeeper overseeing the hotel's laundry operation. She agrees the luxury linens are not difficult to manage.

"They aren't hard to press through the presser and they don't wrinkle badly," she says. "We use all of our lines on the same temperature - all of our machines are programmed at a temp. And chemicals are balanced for those washers to maintain our luxury linens so we do not do anything extra to care for them."

Durability and guest satisfaction afforded by these luxury linens greatly outweigh their 35 percent higher cost, according to Fuller. "It's like buying a quality dress, with the higher thread - the Egyptian thread - the comfort factor is 50 percent better," he says.

The Mansion's laundry is 24 x 50 ft and operates from 7am to 11:30pm seven days a week with two shifts and 8 employees. Their equipment includes three 55-lb Milnor washers, a 95-lb Milnor washer, two 75-lb Milnor dryers, a 120-lb Milnor dryer and a Chicago Flatwork ironer. The linens emanate from 126 guest rooms, a spa, health club, restaurant, cocktail lounge and cooking school.

All in all, for those laundries looking to up the thread count – Fuller’s advice on necessary laundry changes is encouraging.

"I wish I had more contrasting issues for you to write about but I don't," says Fuller. "I'm not sure how much difference there really is in processing these linens versus regular linens."

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Ecolab Receives Environmental Stewardship Award

AUSTRIA - An environmental stewardship award was recently given to Ecolab Inc. in Austria in recognition of the their efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of a local hospital laundry. The award is for implementing their PERformance SMART low-temperature at an Austrian hospital. The laundry program is said to reduce water and energy usage, in addition to shortening wash time.