LAS VEGAS—It isn’t often someone gets invited to a party at a king’s palace—unless, of course, talk-show host Larry King is an acquaintance, which happened to be the case for Walter Pelaez, CEO at Sobel Westex. Upon his arrival, Pelaez looked out at the massive Beverly Hills property in front of him and thought, “Wow, it’s great to be a king. I’m sure he sleeps like a king.” On that March day nearly two years ago, the “Sleep Like A King” bedding concept was born.
“We literally spoke about that idea right then and there,” he said, recalling his conversation with Larry King and his wife Shawn at the gathering. “Then, we had subsequent meetings, planning and whatnot. It took a few months and various trips to their home.”
Pelaez had been in discussions with the Kings prior to the get-together. Sobel manufactured many of the bath and bedding products the couple had purchased over the years for their home—many of which they discovered during their stays at hotels.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the world and stay in some of the finest hotels,” Shawn King noted. “We’ve been able to bring small touches from the finest of those hotels we have stayed in into our home and now into our line.”
“It was a perfect combination of them wanting to bring the luxury of an inspired travel product to people’s homes, our hospitality knowledge and the phrase ‘Sleep Like A King,’” Pelaez said, describing the initial collaboration around the product line.
Launched first, the retail version of Sleep Like A King “was more complex and required more planning.” Being a known manufacturer and distributor of linen and terry in the hospitality industry, Sobel envisioned extending the bed and bath line to hotels, marketing their products to properties with villas and speciality suites in the country.
“Sobel Westex came to us with the idea and while we’ve never done anything like this, we thought it was terrific that we could be associated with them, especially after going to Las Vegas and seeing how they work and put it all together,” Larry King said.
Sleep Like A King offers hotels “very upscale, high-end” products, including towels, sheets made with high thread counts, throws and robes, Pelaez explained. Made of 100% cotton, the bath terry features Hi-Bloom technology, which allows for a fast-drying and softer towel after each wash, “so the towel stays soft for its duration.”
“Using those towels after a shower or bath is like a bit of heaven. It’s just so special,” Larry King said. “The quality is unsurpassed.”
The collection’s Baby Alpaca Throw is made from the wool of Alpacas from the mountains of Peru. In an exclusive agreement with DuPont, cooling technology, co-developed by Sobel and DuPont, is used in the line’s pillows, giving the “product longer longevity and greater comfort,” Pelaez said.
Having been “intimately involved” in the process, the Kings, fully committed partners with Sobel on the Sleep Like A King concept, have touched every aspect of the collection. “Every single color, every single design was brought to life and approved by Shawn and Larry personally,” Pelaez noted, stressing the importance of having the Kings on board.
“I love great design,” Shawn King said, discussing the synergy amongst the partners involved in developing the line. “Sobel gave me carte blanche in the designing process. I enjoyed every moment of putting my own special touches on every single product.”
“The first thing I appreciate about fine hotels is the quality of product in the hotel,” Larry King said. “You can have nice furniture, beautiful mirrors and surroundings, but the key is, how does it sleep? In other words, how do the linens feel, the pillows; how is the quality of sleep? It’s an experience everyone should have.”
Right now, Sobel is in conversations about Sleep Like A King with three hotel chains: one boutique and two national chains. Unable to disclose the names involved in the discussions, Pelaez did acknowledge the deals will “hopefully close very soon.”
There’s been a shift in what the typical hotel guest expects from a stay. Guests no longer want a “home away from home.” They seek distinguishable experiences of higher quality. “The hotel guest has become more demanding, and the hotel guest expects to have better sleeping amenities than they even have at home,” he said.
Along with Sobel’s team of designers, guests drive the inspiration behind many of the manufacturer’s products. “We cater to the special needs, and that’s what really makes the collection born, whether it be a particular look, specific size and weight of a towel, or particular pattern or feel they want to invoke in the room,” Pelaez said.
“We always find unique ways to meet the needs of our customers and this is just one of them,” he said. “There’s more things to come in 2017 with this same type of flavor.” HB