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A new brand of hospitality

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, March 5, 2001

You never know anymore where you can pick out the stuff you want for your home.

How about the hotel where you checked in for a business trip and admired the chairs, the bed or other furnishings?

Well, it's definitely happening. It started a few years back with some of the grander hotels offering their softer-than-soft terry robes-at a price. Or if you pilfered one, it just got added on to your bill.

Today, the offerings have expanded from soaps and fragrances to the towels, sheets, picture frames and even lamps and furniture.

Nowadays, all you have to do is relax in your hotel room while on a business trip or vacation and look the room over. If you like the stuff, you probably can order it. This could well be the most interesting distribution channel, as far as consumer product testing and buying is concerned.

Nothing like having a few nights' sleep on a possible new mattress. Liking it a lot and ordering it from your hotel room-along with the luxury sheets that actually fit the mattress, and are readily available. Or curling up with a book or watching TV from a chair that could find its way into your home.

It's become such a part of hotel life that a couple of weeks back The New York Times did a special feature on ordering home furnishings from hotels' decorating schemes.

The trend has progressed to the point that the stuff is being merchandised in catalogs from right in the hotel rooms-ready for ordering. Both W and The Ritz-Carlton have had catalogs featuring not just the home furnishings but accessory items.

And the ubiquitous lobby stores in many other hotels have expanded their offerings beyond the kitschy souvenirs, conventional T-shirts and resort wear to a variety of stuff for the home.

This trend could well mean lots of business for the hotels beyond their basic function-providing a good night's rest. For consumers it is a chance to really try out the furniture before they buy it; and there's a certain cachet in having stuff from a classy hotel with its brand approval. And delivery apparently is not an issue.

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