We all know that life on the road can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Disrupted sleep, fast food and a fair bit of stress thrown in for good measure can affect everything from job performance to our personal wellbeing.
Meanwhile, wellness has become a buzzword. The wellness economy was valued at $4.2 trillion in 2017 by the Global Wellness Institute, of which the travel market represents $639 billion with a predicted growth of 7.5 percent annually until 2022, making it the fastest-growing sector of global tourism. In response, hotels have launched a range of amenities and services, from in-room equipment to ergonomic workstations and nutritional meal plans.
Before booking a hotel, do you check whether it has a fitness center? According to the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index 2019, 83 percent of business travelers consider gyms or proximity to jogging paths when choosing a hotel. Travel management company CWT also found that hotel gyms were the most common way for business travelers to adhere to their wellness routines (49 percent), followed by the use of in-room fitness equipment (27 percent).
As hotel managers will tell you, however, their fitness centers are empty most of the day, making them an expensive and inefficient use of valuable real estate. To confirm this, a 2017 study by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration found that hotel fitness amenities offered a low return on investment. And, as you’d guess, we overestimate how often we use the gym. Some 46 percent of respondents intend to use them, but less than 22 percent actually do, according to the study.
Emlyn Brown, vice-president of wellbeing for Accor’s luxury and upper-upscale brands, agrees: “Cornell is right. If you create and design a space to be an amenity, put it in a basement and give it little attention, it will produce no ROI.”
As a consequence, there has been a significant shift toward designing more attractive fitness areas with brighter rooms, more sophisticated and interactive high-tech equipment, and partnerships with fitness brands. “These spaces can very easily become animated if the right approach is taken from a design and development perspective,” Brown says.
Select hotel groups across the US have chosen to partner with cycling fitness company Peloton, placing exercise bikes that stream workout videos in gyms and rooms. The move has been so popular that Peloton has a dedicated “hotel finder” website (hotelfinder.onepeloton.com), on which guests can also suggest potential hotel collaborations. Meanwhile, Fairmont and Westin have teamed up with fashion brands Reebok and New Balance to lend gym clothing and trainers to guests – helpful if you are traveling only with a carry-on.
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