The swimming area — pool or beach — is of premier importance for summertime guests at a hotel, resort, country club or spa. To give them an exceptional experience, it's essential to have these outdoor areas stocked with the perfect terry supplies.
This article discusses some of the considerations that hospitality businesses must keep in mind when selecting pool towels and other complementary items.
DIFFERENT PROPERTIES, DIFFERENT SOLUTIONS
The first step to defining the "perfect" towel is identifying your type of business. For hotels and water parks that cater to families and large groups, the primary considerations will be those of high volume, high frequency purchasing. Towels in these settings are laundered more frequently, resulting in a shorter lifespan. As well, they are often lost or stolen. The result is that keeping sufficient towels on hand takes precedence over luxury-level quality. The need for economical towel options leads this type of business to choose a towel with a weight of 9 to 12 lbs.
On the other hand, a high end, luxury hotel or spa will prioritize guest experience over price considerations. With fewer guests — and especially fewer children — at any given time, this type of business experiences less inventory shortage and is better able to afford top quality towels. They offer their guests a premium, memorable look and feel with loftier terry loops, 15 to 24 lb. weights and larger sizes.
Once you've decided where your property sits on the budget-to-luxury scale, the next step is to consider the characteristics of the towel itself.
SIZE MATTERS: FOR DRYING OFF, LYING ON OR WRAPPING AROUND
Guest use their pool towel in all these ways, so its proportions need to be generous. A larger size impresses guests with its more luxurious look. It covers a larger area of the lounge chair (if no chair covers are provided), which makes guests feel more comfortable. And in our new COVID-19 reality, it makes them feel more protected from germs, too.
On the down side, larger sizes come with higher price tags, both in initial purchase and in upkeep costs. They weigh more, take longer to dry and require more storage space. Each hotel must determine its own best option.
The typical smaller pool towel size is 30"x60". In some cases it can be as small as 27"x52", which may significantly affect the quality of the guest experience but may help with the price. Larger towels are usually 35"x70" and come in variety of weights. This is the size that many luxury properties use as a standard, and there's rarely a need to go bigger than that.
WEIGHT MEASURES: WHAT MAKES IT THICK AND FLUFFY
When purchasing pool towels for your hospitality business, you'll see them identified by their weight — for example, 9 lbs./dz. (a dozen towels weighs 9 lbs.) We give you that information not just for shipping costs, but because it tells you how thick and plush the towel will feel to your guests. A number of factors contribute to weight.
Yarn construction is the first determiner. A 1-ply loop is composed of one strand of yarn; this makes it appear more fluffy. In a 2-ply loop, two yarns are twisted together to form one thicker strand; this gives it a more stable, dense feeling. Opinions are divided on which type is better, as it is a matter of taste.
However, we find that the ground fabric of the towel (not the loops) is more durable when it is made of 2-ply yarns. Both our Traditional and Ritz pool towels have this 2-ply ground construction.
The number of loops per square inch also affects weight, and even more importantly, how fluffy the towel looks and feels. Loop length can enhance the effect, with longer loops appearing more plush.
When comparing towel weights, you can expect to see economy towels in the 9 to 12 lbs./dz. range, and luxury towels ranging from 15 to 20 lbs./dz. If you're more familiar with the gsm (grams per square meter) metric, that would translate to a range of 300 to 400 gsm for 9 to 12 lbs./dz. and 400 to 500 gsm for 15 to 20 lbs./dz.
ABSORBENCY PRIORITIES: BALANCING FEEL AND FUNCTION
Of course, the primary purpose of a towel is to dry yourself off — and for that, you need excellent absorbency. Cotton is generally recognized as the best absorber of water. A natural cellulose fiber, it wicks moisture through capillary action, with each fiber acting like a sponge to hold water. Individual fibers are spun together into yarns, which are then woven into fabric.
If asked, nearly all guests will say they prefer 100% cotton, not just for its absorbency but also for its softness. An example of a 100% cotton towel is our Traditional Pool Towel.
For our budget-conscious customers, we also offer an innovative alternative in the Ritz Pool Towel. It is indistinguishable in feel from pure cotton because its 100% cotton loops are what touch customers' skin. The stripe fiber is polyester, retaining bright color that will not fade in the sun. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that enables faster drying, increases towel durability and reduces the purchase price. Polyester takes dye exceptionally well, allowing for more vibrant colors that don't bleed in the wash.
STYLE MILEAGE: HOW TO CREATE LASTING MEMORIES
The pool towel is another opportunity for a hotel to extend its branding and maintain a consistent look throughout the property. The inviting, fluffy look, coordinated colors and signature details all play a role in making that all-important first impression.
Color is the first thing you notice about a pool towel, so choosing one with good color retention is very important. Preventing fading in the sun or the wash depends on the dye and the dyeing method.
Vat dye is different from the other dye types because it isn't water soluble and can't be directly applied to the fabric (the fabric and dye is put into a vat). Its advantage is that it provides superior fade resistance to both UV sunlight and chemicals such as chlorine, soap and other laundering products. This type of dye is used only in the hospitality industry — though not every manufacturer uses it because it costs more. We pride ourselves in making all our towels with vat dyed fabric.
Solid colors are the easiest to integrate into an overall decorating theme. That's why we offer our Traditional Pool Towel in a range of shades, from bright to classic to neutral.
Dashing stripes are another style choice offered by our Ritz Pool Towel. This timeless look works with both classic and contemporary design themes. It can also be coordinated with solid color towels for a unique fashion statement.
PRICE MATCHES: MAINTAINING PAR LEVEL ON A BUDGET
Price plays a big role in towel selection. To maintain a proper par level, you need to consistently refill your stock. Lower inventory can result in poor customer service. In addition, insufficient inventory leads to overuse of towels, thus shortening their life span and requiring even more frequent replacements.
Our Plunge Towel is a great solution for budget conscious shoppers. The 2-ply loops, 100% cotton construction makes it very absorbent, while the bold awning stripes complement both fun and classic decorating styles.
As discussed above, hotels must take into account the losses due to guests knowingly or unknowingly walking away with towels. On average, hotels lose 5% to 20% of their towel supply every month. A new solution to this problem that's making waves among hospitality businesses is to have RFID chips attached to the towels.
RFID (radio frequency identification) tags track the item through radio waves to the base reader/antenna. They facilitate record keeping of inventory activity, which in turn enables hotels to plan their inventory needs. It costs a bit more up front, but the system pays for itself over time in reduced losses. We have multiple customers — including prominent hotel brands — using this technology, and we are happy to work with you to craft the perfect solution.
WELCOME COMPLEMENTS: PUTTING TOGETHER A COMPLETE LOOK
Now that your pool is all set with towels, you can move on to choosing the other items that will elevate your guest experience.
A signature look is important, and here T-Y Group & Harbor Linen can help. We work with hospitality businesses to create exclusive, custom designed branding, including coordinated lounge chair covers, embroidered logos and other amenities for guest comfort.
Lounge Chair Covers add luxury in both appearance and comfort to the pool area. As well, guests will be happier knowing that a clean chair cover is protecting them from potential contact with germs and microbes.
Oshibori — single-use, pre-moistened microfiber towels — are a delightful extra gesture of hospitality for guests arriving in the pool area. Refrigerate the oshibori before serving to make a refreshing, cool wipe of face or hands on a hot day. The same towels can also be microwaved for a comforting warm cleanse before dining.
READY TO DIVE IN
This article covers the basics of selecting towels and other soft furnishings for the pool or beach area of a hospitality business. Feel free to call us anytime for more information or assistance in getting your facility ready for summer fun in the sun!