The case for fitness-themed rooms in hotels
17 JULY 2015 8:26 AM
In-room fitness options can enhance the guest experience, but do they make sense for owners?
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Fitness rooms not only cater to a growing segment of health-conscious guests, brand executives said. They also present opportunities for owners to flex their revenue muscles.
Executives at brands such as Westin and Tryp by Wyndham realize the potential and have rolled out programs, standards—and health equipment—in certain rooms throughout their portfolios.
Other companies are taking a deeper dive. All of InterContinental Hotel Group’s Even properties, for instance, feature in-room fitness options that allow guests to exercise in their rooms using a training zone, which includes a foam roller, yoga mat, yoga block and core exercise ball. The options also include the Even Hotels Trainer, a mounted fitness wall with a stretch brand and braided cords. The brand also developed several fitness videos that range from five to 30 minutes to show guests different ways to use the equipment.
“Guests really want flexibility, and having the ability to choose whether you do a class, strength train or work out in your room provides the options they need to fit their lifestyle and schedule,” said Jason Moskal, VP of lifestyle brands, The Americas, InterContinental Hotels Group.
Such amenities require extra investment from owners, sources said. But there’s typically a justifiable return.
Tryp by Wyndham, for instance, has mandated at least one fitness room in all new-build Tryp hotels since Wyndham Hotel Group acquired the brand from Sol Meliá in 2010, said Rui Barros, president and managing director of North America franchise operations and the Tryp by Wyndham brand leader.
“In the case of existing and/or conversion hotels, hotel owners need to determine whether the property can physically accommodate such a room,” he said. “There is an investment that goes into putting these rooms into inventory and each hotel needs to determine if it’s the best direction for that property.”
All of the brand’s fitness rooms offer an exercise machine (usually an exercise bike, treadmill or elliptical machine; the actual machine varies by property) and complimentary exercise clothing.
While the size and space varies from property to property, the fitness rooms at some locations are slightly larger than a standard room, Barros said. For example, the fitness rooms at Tryp by Wyndham New York City Times Square South are an average of 340 square feet with nine-foot ceilings (standard deluxe rooms at this hotel are typically around 215 to 265 square feet) and can accommodate up to four guests.
The bigger size translates into bigger returns, Barros said. Fitness room rates often are marked up slightly because of factors such as the equipment, the size of the room and the number of available fitness rooms within a hotel, Barros said.
They also can bring new guests, he said.
“We believe the availability of a fitness room has the potential to bring in a guest who may not otherwise book with us or may not be overly familiar with our brand. We’ve seen great interest in and excitement for the rooms among fitness enthusiasts at the locations where they are available,” Barros said.
“Our experience has been that fitness rooms do very well in the properties that have them; we hear great things from our guests and their feedback is of the utmost importance to us,” he added.
“Evaluating the market and business mix helps a hotel owner determine whether the offering makes good business sense for a particular location,” he said.
The value proposition
Moskal said the No. 1 insight IHG has learned from guests was that they didn’t have access to equipment or classes that met their needs when they traveled. Even was designed to match its offering to what guests desired, he said.
“Even Hotels was designed to best meet the needs of the wellness-minded traveler while placing focus on our overall service experience and design. We designed the entire hotel experience to support our guests’ needs holistically, and deliver a premium return for our owners,” he said. “Overall, guests are responding extremely positively to the launch and are excited about finally having a place that meets their wellness needs while on the road.”
In their respective cities, Even Hotel Norwalk is ranked No. 1 on TripAdvisor and Even Hotel Rockville is ranked No. 2. Additionally, guests’ feedback has been extremely positive.
“Our guests are definitely utilizing the in-room fitness equipment whether to get a quick workout in before their day starts or to recharge with some yoga and stretching before they head to sleep,” Moskal said. “Research conducted post-openings also validates how impactful both the in-room and athletic studio offerings are for our guests.”
According to Moskal, IHG places great emphasis on continually innovating to meet the demands of travelers and will consider adding fitness rooms to other brands in the future, if warranted.
“The brand offer is entirely guest-insight-driven and truly delivers on what guests have been missing from their hotel experience,” he said.
The same was true of the Westin brand’s WestinWorkout Rooms in 2005, aimed at those seeking to achieve or sustain a healthy lifestyle while on the road.
Brian Povinelli, Westin Hotels & Resorts’ global brand leader, said that while on property, guests are encouraged to utilize all of the Westin programs and amenities designed to promote well-being, including the fully-equipped WestinWorkout Rooms, which allow guests to exercise in the privacy and comfort of their own rooms.
“Outfitted with advanced cardio equipment ideal for high-performance workouts, WestinWorkout Rooms are the perfect solution for guests committed to maintaining personal wellness on the road,” Povinelli said. “The type of equipment installed in each room depends on the size of the guestroom, which varies depending on property size and location.”
Available at participating properties, the rooms provide the special option of booking a guestroom equipped with a treadmill or an upright or stationary bike, yoga mats and stability balls.
Additionally, as of spring 2015, Westin collaborated with established health and fitness personality Holly Perkins to produce four original strength training videos with exclusive wellness tips that are available On-Demand for free at 80-plus hotels nationwide, and on Westin’s YouTube channels and online. These workouts are equipment free and can be easily done in the privacy of a guestroom as an extension of WestinWorkout.