Building In Wellness Without Making Capital Improvements

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort offers private decks and ocean views for wellness-seekers.
The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort offers private decks and ocean views for wellness-seekers.

Jennifer Hawkins—CEO of Hawkins International Public Relations, which serves mainly high-end lifestyle and travel clients, luxury hotels with spas, and international hospitality companies—says properties don’t necessarily have to make capital improvements or—heaven forbid—start from scratch, to get on the wellness bandwagon.

“From a literal ‘building’ standpoint, there are two main categories—new builds, like IHG’s EVEN Hotels, which are conceived around the concept of wellness, and modifications to existing hotels, such as upgraded equipment, wellness-inspired customization such as special lighting or air enhancement, and finding new uses for existing space, such as scheduling yoga or meditation to get guests out of their rooms.”

She says it is especially urban hotels—with limited physical expansion options—that are supplementing tweaks to existing structures to create flexible spaces suitable for treatments and classes and otherwise supporting wellness goals with updated fitness equipment and guestroom lighting and technology. It is these space-challenged properties in particular, she says, that are offering creative solutions through programming and partnerships that address wellness needs without significant physical changes to their structure.

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“What we’re seeing in urban hotels—especially boutiques, which don’t have the physical facilities for spaces like yoga rooms—is that they are addressing this by partnering with players in the growing on-demand wellness community. They are bringing experiential fitness equipment into their gyms, like Peloton bikes—or if they don’t have a gym—partnering with companies like ClassPass or wellness concierge services like Namaste New York. Hotels that don’t have spas can partner with Zeel for on-demand massages, or offer special one-on-one treatments like in-room facials with CryoFuel or sleep therapy with ReCOVER.”

Then, too, she says, there are wellness, nutrition, and meditation gurus offering guest seminars and lectures. “One client brought in a celebrity nutritionist to redo their menus, and another provided a ‘grocery guru’ to teach guests how to make healthy food choices. Nearly all go beyond the traditional menu of the past with just a few vegetarian options. Some offer vegan menus, and guests can now choose smoothies over eggs Benedict.”

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