Hotel Fitness Programs are Bulking Up

A growing number of hotels are offering innovative, easy-to-implement health and fitness programs – from rooftop boot camps to outdoor running trails – that attract health-conscious consumers and raise guest satisfaction scores.

Westin partnered with New Balance to lend out running and workout gear; The Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles installed fitness workouts on in-room iPads; and Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants rolled out custom-designed Gaiam yoga mats in every guestroom closet to complement its on-demand yoga TV channel.

Those innovative ideas on are target, according to the 2103 SpaFinder Wellness Spa Trend Report, which lists “healthy hotels” as its top consumer trend.

“What constitutes a real ‘vacation’ and true ‘hospitality’ is being rewritten,” says SpaFinder Wellness President Susie Ellis. “In 2013 and beyond, we are forecasting far more hotels serving up health-focused guest experiences and wellness everywhere environments.”


The investment in wellness programs is worth any expense, according to hotel executives and industry experts who say such services are no longer considered luxury amenities. Nowadays, the 40 percent of travelers who represent health-focused consumers expect them to be complimentary offerings.

Earlier this year, Element Hotels, a subsidiary of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, launched pedal-powered charging stations, says Brian McGuinness, senior vice president of Specialty Select Brands.

“We took the idea of guests running or riding a bike in a gym, and we thought about how they could use that energy to power their smart phones,” he says. “That led us to research kinetic energy and install bikes that could also be used as a power source.”

The service kicked off six months ago at the opening of Element’s Miami location, where the brand’s executives, including McGuinness, placed the bikes outside and pedaled feverishly to make the hotel’s signage light up.

The pedal-powered charging stations complement the hotel’s popular Bike to Borrow program, which provides guests with bicycles that they can use to exercise outdoors or travel to work, he says.

With the small investment of providing the bikes at each of the brand’s North American locations, Element’s fitness programs are already boosting the brand’s ranking on travel websites, McGuinness says. For example, he says, the hotel’s Houston location consistently ranks in the Top 10 on TripAdvisor.
“We continue to push the envelope,” he says. “The response has been phenomenal.”

In mid-June, Trump Hotel Collection launched a trio of new wellness programs –QuickBites, Nourish and TravelFit – after six months of planning, engaging experts and developing partnerships with national athletic companies.

“The essence and DNA of our brand is tied to personalization and allowing people to extend their lifestyle when they travel,” says Jim Petrus, chief operating officer. “We knew we needed to make it easy for guests to continue their lifestyle and regimen.”

QuickBites is an express in-room menu that includes healthy meals delivered in 15 minutes or less, and Nourish is a healthy in-room dining menu that includes vegan, gluten-free, and organic selections.

Travel Fit provides exercise equipment, including light weights and stretch bands, on demand to guests. Under Armor apparel, pre-loaded iPod shuffles and training cards with workouts developed exclusively for the hotel by Technogym are also available for use with TravelFit.

The bulk of the hotel’s investment, Petrus says, was spent to purchase exercise equipment and train staff on the new programs, which have received positive guest reviews so far. The hotel expects a significant return on investment, but Petrus declined to elaborate.

“It’s really all about delivering on guests’ personal needs, desires, and lifestyles,” he says. ”The guests enjoy having the comfort of knowing that there is a home away from home.”

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