Between The Sheets

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Celebrating 50 years in the textile industry: Robert Lancaster-Gaye

This month we've been celebrating our co-founder Robert Lancaster-Gaye as he celebrates 50 years working in the textile industry, which we are sure you'll agree is quite an accomplishment!



With 30 years of his career as one of the founding directors of Tradelinens (Tielle's parent company), ethical supplier of textiles to the luxury hotel sector. Tradelinens supplies some of the most well-known names in the hotel industry with bed, bath and table linen, including The Dorchester, The Pig Group, Firmdale and Nobu.

In 1970, Robert swerved a degree in architecture for a job in a small textiles warehouse in London, from where he grew his career to become one of the industry’s go-to experts in luxury hotel linen. As well as being the man who made a million beds, Robert’s achievements include introducing Tradelinens as the first UK member of the Better Cotton Initiative.

He passionately believes in providing the best quality through the finest fabrics and unrivalled industry experience and knowledge. To mark this golden milestone, Robert has shared his thoughts and secrets on the luxury linen industry…past…present and future.


What’s the trends luxury hotels should be looking out for?


The wellness trend remains huge for 2020, with consumers seeking out luxury hotels for rest, retreat and rejuvenation. The luxury hotel needs to deliver on that level for the guest, providing a very personal service that makes every guest feel special. Another way to deliver a wellness experience is through plenty of green spaces, both inside and out. Allowing guests to connect with nature will ensure they feel rested and give them relaxing memories of their stay. Of course, the property also needs to ensure it’s meeting the sustainability expectations of these discerning, educated guests as well. This expectation cannot so much be called a trend but is now an essential way to conduct business. Hotels need to ensure they’re going above and beyond to do their bit to meet climate change targets. Some of our customers are starting to insist on zero plastic in any products they receive, and this is something we’re expecting to see more and more in the months ahead.


How is Tradelinens staying ahead of the game to keep the luxury hotel goers coming back?


The company vision is to help people around the world have a great night’s sleep. We believe that we truly deliver on that due to the unrivalled service that we provide. We don’t ever compromise on quality, and our whole team has the knowledge and expertise to offer genuine service and advice to all our customers. This is where we think we really standout in the marketplace.


What’s your biggest career highlight?


That’s a tough one, there have been so many! Being asked to do a presentation on quality to the managers of 35 of the top hotels in the world at the Ritz in Madrid was certainly up there.  It was such a privilege for Tradelinens to be acknowledged as a leader in quality products amongst such a prestigious audience. It’s also a massive, on-going highlight to think that we’ve had some of our relationships with the incredible hotels that we have for so many years. It really is testament to the whole team’s hard work – we must be doing something right!


What would your best piece of advice be to anyone starting out in the hotel business?


I am so proud of the team we have here at Tradelinens and I think having the right people around you is absolutely key. Get your team right and everything else will follow. Nurturing this your passion for people expands into how you look after your guests as well.  Love them, don’t compromise and they’ll keep coming back.


What’s the biggest myth about hotel bed linen?


High numbers in specifications!  Bigger doesn’t always mean better! High thread count or weight are specifications and not a guarantee of quality.


What should the industry be doing to help the climate crisis?


This is a huge matter for debate and such a sensitive topic but one that must be confronted head on and quickly. New build hotels must lead the way with energy and water conservation, and waste management and need to think creatively about using the space and facilities available to them to help to become more environmentally friendly. Planting inside and out is one way to do this, and using roof gardens in a creative way, so that they become multipurpose and more than simply a selling point. Hotels are also starting to ask for a reduction of plastic in packaging or no plastic in packaging.  We are already developing new paper and cardboard packaging.