Hilton isn't playing games with its bedding

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The bed wars may have subsided, but it appears that hotels are continuing to take bedside manner to another level, tapping everything from simulated sunlight to homeopathic remedies to help guests drift off into dream land.

One chain has practically made getting a good nights sleep an Olympic event.

Hilton Hotels, which is an official sponsor of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, is modifying 160 athlete dorm rooms at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The project is called the Hilton Competitive Advantage Program.

Modifications include outfitting rooms with the upgraded bedding used in Hilton hotels across the U.S.

Sleep is so important and so basic that it could make the difference between winning the gold or the silver at the Olympic Games, said Mark Rosekind, a former scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and president of Alertness Solutions. Rosekind helped develop the Hilton Competitive Advantage Program.

A restful sleep, according to Rosekind, can help increase an athletes alertness and reaction time, which in turn bolsters performance.

In remodeling the athletes dorm rooms, Hilton replaced the existing, standard twin beds with a complete bedding package designed exclusively for Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels and Homewood Suites by Hilton.

The package includes a plush-top mattress that helps reduce tossing and turning.

Other room enhancements include sensory changes involving temperature and lighting.

Hilton also installed what it calls the worlds easiest to set alarm clock in each room to assure that athletes dont oversleep.

The clocks, used in Hilton hotels, automatically adjusts for daylight savings time and includes a connector for MP3 and CD players.

Speed skater Apolo Anton  Ohno, who won a gold and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, was among the athletes whose dorm room was remodeled.

It sounds simple, but getting the proper rest really does increase my confidence and abilities on and off the track, Ohno said.

Hilton intends to replicate the upgraded dorm rooms for the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Let the sun shine in

The Benjamin Hotel in New York, which years ago was one of the first hotels to introduce a pillow menu, is rolling out a new concept -- sun.

Guests at the hotel may now request a Port-a-Sun lightbox for their room. The lightweight, full-spectrum lightbox is designed to help refresh jet-lagged guests.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, jet lag occurs when the bodys biological clock is out of sync with local time. Jet lag lasts longer on trips eastward.

Thats where the light boxes come in.

The hotel said that by regulating light exposure, guests can essentially reset their biological clocks.

Otherwise, it could take about one day for every hour of time zone change to recover, said the hotel.

The light box is the latest sleep enhancement at the Benjamin. Along with offering its guests a selection of 11 types of pillows, the Benjamin features customized Serta Benjamin Beds with 400-plus thread count sheets.

It also launched an Executive Nap program a while back. Guests may even seek guidance from the hotels resident Sleep Concierge.

On top of that, the Benjamin offers a Sleep Guarantee -- a free nights stay if guests dont sleep as well at the hotel as they do at home.

Turndown tablets

Is this the end of the long-standing hotel tradition of placing a chocolate on the guests bedroom pillow during turndown service? It could be if Westin Hotels latest brainstorm catches on like its now much-imitated Heavenly Bed.

The Westin New York at Times Square unveiled a concept room called the Renewal Suite.

As part of the nightly turn down service, the hotel has replaced mints with Moondrops Homeopathic Sleep Therapy Lozenges, which are made with all-natural ingredients that help ease sleeplessness.

Thats not all.

The suite features a new minibar concept called the Purification Station that the hotel said is designed to enhance body, mind and soul.

Along with such familiar minibar items as wine, beer and cookies, the Purification Station has oxygen, energy patches and anti-stress spray.

Guests dont even have to stress over brushing their teeth thanks to Breath Palette East Meets West, a toothpaste kit that offers a sensory experience with a natural line of flavors tailored to specific moods.

New Park Plazas in U.K.

Park Plaza Europe, franchisor of the Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has two new hotels in the works for London.

The 395-room County Hall Park Plaza is scheduled to open in 2008, and the 930-room Westminster Bridge Park Plaza is planned for 2010.

Both hotels will be located on the south side of the Thames River.

Extended to Canada

Extended Stay Hotels has gone international, purchasing its first hotel outside of the U.S.

Located in downtown Ottawa, Canada, the 218-room hotel, formerly known as the Aristocrat Suite Hotel, was recently acquired by HVM, Extended Stays parent company. The hotel has been renamed the Extended Stay Deluxe Ottawa.

Extended Stay Deluxe is an upgraded, midscale, offshoot brand.

Amenities include full kitchens, free voicemail, wireless Internet access, laundry facilities and DVD players in all rooms. Extended Stay Deluxe hotels typically have pools, hot tubs or fitness centers, depending on the location.

Sol Searching

Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts updated its Web site, www.solmelia.com.  Among the colorful sites new features is a robust search engine that enables users to scan for hotels by either the guaranteed lowest online rate or by travel dates.

More rooms in N.Y.

New York expects toadd 5,000 hotel rooms over the next two years, boosting the Big Apples overall room inventory to 70,723 by the end of 2007.  

Cristyne Nicholas, president and CEO of NYC & Co., said that several hotels will be located outside of Midtown Manhattan.

Many of the new properties, in such diverse locations as Staten Island, TriBeCa, the Lower East Side, Queens and Harlem, will anchor the start of economic and business development in these exciting new neighborhood destinations and will introduce global visitors to new experiences in the Big Apple, said Nicholas.

Among the hotels slated to open over the next several months are:

  • The 65-room Hampton Inn Manhattan/Seaport, which will open in December in New Yorks Financial District.
  • The 357-room Residence Inn by Marriott, which will open in December on West 39th Street.
  • The 210-room Courtyard by Marriott, opening on New Yorks Upper East Side in early 2006.
  • The 90-room Holiday Inn Express, which is slated to debut in Brooklyn in early 2006.
  •   Kor buys Campton

    Kor Hotel Group, a Los Angeles-based luxury hotel operator, has acquired its first hotel in San Francisco, the Campton Place Hotel.  The four-star Campton Place is a 110-room property located near Union Square.

    Michael Milligan is Travel Weeklys hotel editor. E-mail him at [email protected].

     

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