For those who work out regularly, constant travelling can throw a wrench into their routine.
But just because it’s hard to stay fit on the road doesn’t mean travellers don’t want to try.
When Jason Moskal, vice president of lifestyle brands for hotel chain EVEN Hotels, spoke to guests, he began to realise a need that the hospitality industry hadn’t completely met.
“One thing we heard from travellers was, I have a real tough time staying focused in terms of my well-being — whether it be fitness or rest or productivity — when I’m on the road,” Moskal said.
“It became clear that there was a need and an opportunity to develop a hotel that could deliver in helping them stay on the wagon and stay focused on their wellness and fitness regimens when they’re on the road.”
These conversations sparked the launch of EVEN, a wellness-focused hotel chain owned by the InterContinental Hotels Group in the summer of last year.
But Moskal says that these types of fitness and wellness hotels are more than just the latest trend to hit the industry: They’re becoming a necessity for hotels to stay relevant and competitive in the current market.
“I’m viewing it really being a paradigm shift in the mentality of people and how important it is to stay well,” Moskal said. “I think more and more people are moving towards this idea of it’s not just in my everyday life at home, but it’s also when I’m on the road.”
EVEN isn’t the only hotel chain to notice this need though.
Multiple hotel chains have started to accommodate fitness-oriented travellers: TRYP by Wyndham (part of Wyndham Worldwide Corp.) has provided guests with fitness rooms since 2010. And the Westin brand (owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.) launched runWESTIN — a program that provides guests with three and five mile run routes and group runs led by a run concierge — in 2007, partnered with New Balance for a workout gear lending program in 2010, and has since launched other fitness programs.
And now new players are entering the hospitality industry: upscale fitness companies Equinox and Soul Cycle.
According to Travel and Leisure, Soul Cycle is opening a 2,600-square-foot facility in the brand new 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami Beach. The facility will include a 54-bike studio, locker rooms, and an apparel boutique.
Equinox is going a step further. The company plans to launch a luxury hotel brand, where each hotel will have its own Equinox club. The Wall Street Journal reported that the company expects to open its flagship hotel in 2018 in New York City at Hudson Yards. Future locations will include Los Angeles, London, and Miami.
But these hotels won’t simply be about providing gym access to guests. Instead, they’re planning to offer full wellness experiences.
The Equinox hotels will be designed by Yabu Pushelberg and will provide guests with everything from personalised one-on-one in-room training to a restaurant serving nutritionist-approved options, juice bars, and even apparel.
The concept of a full wellness experience is also key to the EVEN brand. According to Moskal, the chains’ two locations in Norwalk, Connecticut, and Rockville, Maryland, aim to help guests not only stay active, but also eat well, feel rested, and be productive. Their fitness offerings include a fitness studio, chief wellness officers who lead guest classes or runs, and in-room fitness equipment for those looking for a quick workout.
TRYP by Wyndham has a more narrow focus on fitness. TRYP’s signature fitness rooms — a guest room with an elliptical, treadmill, or bike and free workout gear — are available at nearly all of the chain’s 120 worldwide locations.
While Westin also offers both gyms (WestinWORKOUT fitness studios) and guest rooms featuring exercise equipment (WestinWORKOUT rooms), the hotels cater to an even more niche group of fitness-centric guests: runners. Global brand leader Brian Povinelli describes the runWESTIN program — which is available at every Westin property worldwide — as an “alternative to the drudgery of a gym workout.” There are morning group runs led by the hotels’ run concierges, or for those who prefer to run alone, there are 3-mile and 5-mile jogging or walking courses, which were created on every property through Westin’s partnership with New Balance. The partnership also allows guests to borrow both running shoes and exercise gear for just $US5.
For extra ambitious travellers, Westin even partnered with running series Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons to offer guests a VIP marathon package, which includes transportation to and from the race, a pre-race pasta dinner and warm up run, and access to the hotel’s VIP recovery tent at the race.
Recently, the brand launched a series of wellness retreats, called Westin Wellness Escapes, which are led by experts who focus on meditation, strength training, nutrition, yoga, and running.
Although different from one another, the fitness and wellness options offered by more and more hotels have one thing in common: They’re an answer to travellers’ growing need to seamlessly maintain the healthy lifestyle they live when they’re not on the road.
Povinelli says this need is pervasive, specifically among higher income guests. “We have found that more than 80% of consumers express a strong interest in improving their personal wellness.” He refers to wellness as an “intensifying global macro trend, especially among affluent consumers who will pay a premium to look and feel good.”
And while both Moskal and Povinelli agree that, as of right now, the majority of hotel guests who take advantage of fitness offerings are business travellers, Moskal says he’s seen a minor increase in leisure travellers who are interested. Povinelli thinks that Westin’s growing resort portfolio could also lead to an increase in leisure travellers utilising workout options.
Pricing for these fitness hotels varies greatly by location and time of booking. EVEN’s wellness rooms (which include fitness equipment) run from $US140 per night to $US180 per night. A fitness room at one of TRYP by Wyndham’s New York City locations, on the other hand, is around $US440 to $US480 per night.
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