Christina and Ben started The Hotel Sheet out of love for family, Portugal and beautiful bedding. They lived happily ever after, or did they?
After growing up in Hong Kong, Christina's father (British) and Christina's mother (Chinese) retired to the quiet, rural life of Portugal in 1986.
Vila Mourisca was the name of the new family home, a humble Portuguese villa located within an abandoned vineyard. Horse-drawn carts, dusty roads and 'luxuries' such as hot and cold running water did not impress the 18-year-old Christina.
Moving from a city that never slept to a town barely awake was like, totally heinous for an 80's teenager. I mean, gag me with a spoon. Totally. So after a year, Christina abruptly ended her relationship with Portugal and moved to a teeming metropolis. Auckland, New Zealand.
Well, at least New Zealand had jazzercise and Auckland was also where she met Ben.
A love affair
After locking eyes at a hairdresser's party (yep), Christina and Ben went into the graphic design business, because that's what you do in a new relationship.
As love blossomed, the time came for Ben to face every boyfriend's worst fear, a retired Senior Superintendent Policeman and the rest of the Guy family in Portugal.
But Ben's intense fear evaporated after four pints and a bowl of homemade 'spaghettiboiledeggs'. Hey, Ben didn't speak Cantonese and the bolognese tasted great so Christina's mum could pronounce it any way she liked!
The two fell in love with Portugal on that first trip, discovering Portugal's wine, food and beautiful bedding, which dates back to a time when the European courts reigned.
After a decade travelling to Portugal, and learning that Portugal makes some of the highest quality textiles in the world, an ember of an idea formed.
In 2010, Christina and Ben went into the bedding business, because that's what you do in a long-term relationship.
Confident and self-assured, they met with Portuguese designers. Wanting the finest quality, they specified 1000 thread count sheets, 2000 if possible.
The Portuguese exchanged awkward glances, looked at the pair pityingly before politely explaining that super-high thread counts were considered an industry joke – what?
After a crash course in bedding quality, 300-375 thread count sheets were reluctantly ordered.
But it wasn't long before buyer's remorse set in because 1000 thread-count sheets were everywhere, nobody understood that lower thread counts are also good, and to rub salt in their wounds, a family member sent 1000 thread count sheets for Christmas. Ouch!
Then the notorious Portuguese sheets arrived. Unbelievably, they made the Christmas 1000 thread count sheets feel like cardboard, and that's when the real panic set in. How would beginners explain to a thread count obsessed market that thread count has nothing to do with quality?
For almost seven years, the company traded as Vila Mourisca, named after Christina's family home in Portugal. It was a sweet story, but nobody cared about Portugal, nor had a clue what Vila Mourisca did.
So in late 2017, the company was re-named after its most popular sheet; The Hotel Sheet. And it turns out that a hotel sheet is a classic sheet recipe which debunks the thread count myth, keeps you cooler at night, and offers best bang-for-buck.
Sharing is caring
Today we're still learning and are incredibly grateful to our Portuguese partners. After all, it was their time, skill and patience that set us on the right path, so we share what we've learnt.
Visit us at a home show near you and feel different kinds of sheets, you can even feel sheets after five years of wear (washed of course!).
Wishing you sweet dreams,
Christina & Ben