Fit Inn: New Hotels Target Health-Conscious Travelers

Fit Inn: New Hotels Target Health-Conscious Travelers

Staying Fit While On the Road Is Easier than Ever BeforeHealth and fitness are big business all over the world. Business travelers as well as vacationers are as likely to pack workout clothes and running shoes as business suits and casual attire. At the beginning of the 2018, more than 4,000 fitness pros identified 10 fitness trends they believed would dominate the scene for the coming year. Among them were some surprising choices.

Top Fitness Trends for 2018

The annual survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, included responses from professionals in 41 countries across the globe. Here are the results, in order of response frequency:

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training, workouts that generally are 30 minutes or less in duration
  2. Group Training and Fitness Classes
  3. Wearable Technology
  4. Bodyweight Training
  5. Strength Training

Ranking lower on the survey were fitness efforts that include certified professionals or personal trainers, programs for specific population segments like older adults, yoga and functional fitness.

The Prescription for Hotels

While hotel amenities have long included pools, spas, fitness facilities and sometimes even rooftop courts or running tracks, evolving new fitness trends have prompted some chains to rethink ways to appeal to a new breed of travelers.

According to Mark Volterre, director of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, "fitness-themed rooms" may represent the future for some properties, with cable fitness classes available in guest rooms on demand, as well as an ability to check out exercise equipment like bar bells, weights and fitness balls, or optional "fit kits" for cardio or strength training, or for yoga.

He notes that the New Orleans hotel has added a pool cardio bag with specialized equipment that includes water dumb bells and resistance padding. The hotel also recently installed a cross training room with TRX equipment to capitalize on the popular trend. The Riverside is not alone in catering to guests' fitness frenzy.

Finding Space (and Time) for Fitness

Hotelier Josh Biard, athletic manager at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, says that finding space in a hotel large enough to include the various cardio and weight training equipment is a challenge, as is the need to keep the equipment clean and in prime operating condition. This is especially true at hotels where fitness rooms are a 24-7 amenity.

Hotel guests with an established routine may find that it's not impossible to work a workout into a busy schedule even if facilities have set opening and closing times. But other travelers want the flexibility to visit at any time of the day or night. Finding the time to clean, maintain and repair fitness facilities is a major consideration for a hotel. Even pool and spa maintenance can become problematic as guests expect access to indoor pools during extended operating hours.

Baird also notes that guests seem to prefer minimal interaction with staff, choosing instead to view exercise and fitness routines as solitary pursuits. A growing number of hotel chains find that renting equipment for in-room use, or having bicycles available for use by guests is an additional incentive.

Options for the Future

Some hotel and hospitality leaders have already taken fitness to the next level by incorporating digital technology and off-premises options into their list of attractive amenities. Web-based programs, on-screen classes, downloadable apps, sunrise or sunset classes led by professionals, and maps that include safe and directed walking, running and cycling routes through the surrounding community are all possibilities, according to hotel planners.

So are on-site professionally-led classes, offered either gratis or for a fee. Although it's expensive, The Peninsula Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York City offers complimentary group fitness classes daily, and the availability of personal trainers on call for individual sessions. Hotel guests may take advantage of a state-of-the-art fitness room, and have a choice of cardiovascular and strength-training equipment, all with dramatic views of the city. And that's in addition to the hotel's indoor pool and complete spa facilities.

Health and Wellness

While there is a growing demand for well-equipped hotel fitness centers both in the United States and abroad, the hospitality industry has recognized the broader appeal of an emphasis on health and wellness in all areas. Future travelers are apt to respond positively to hotels that offer ample fitness facilities, but they also will be attracted to those chains that prioritize restaurants with healthy food options, including nutritious snacks, a variety of exercise options, eco-friendly and sustainable design, customizable lighting, energy and water-saving options, and better air quality.

High-tech options are also high on the list of traveler must-haves as the percentage of Millennial travelers in Washington County increases. The hospitality industry saw the writing on the wall more than three years ago, and continues to respond, testing new ideas constantly and responding to the emerging trends.

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