Hotel wellness initiatives focus on more than fitness
Hotel wellness initiatives focus on more than fitness
11 MAY 2016 8:21 AM

The wellness trend has extended beyond the home and gym, and hoteliers have responded by offering new programs centered on mindfulness and well-being.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—The wellness trend has grown beyond a person’s daily routine at home or at the gym, and hoteliers have taken notice by adding programs and initiatives that focus on mindfulness and well-being.

For example, Morgans Hotel Group, which SBE on 9 May agreed to acquire for $794 million, announced a new list of wellness programs across its portfolio aimed at reducing guests’ daily stress and renewing the spirit through physical experiences and mindful exercise.

“The tradition has been to launch a wellness program at the start of the new year, with a focus on physical fitness,” said Chadi Farhat, COO of Morgans. “But when we thought about spring, we thought of ‘spring cleaning’ in the sense of cleansing the mind, soul and body.”

Two of the more notable initiatives launched with the new wellness programs include the creation of an adult coloring book and a partnership with the Buddhify app, which features travel meditations created exclusively for Morgans’ guests, Farhat said in an email. In addition, the company developed programs across the brand that range from sound-healing classes and healthy menu items to beach boot camps and running clubs.

“It’s about combining the physical with the spiritual and mental for a complete wellness offering, which is what today’s traveler seeks,” he said. “A simple meditation or spending a few minutes coloring a page in a coloring book can do wonders to relieve stress and clear the mind.”

The Chopra Center at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California, has been focusing on wellness initiatives for hotel guests and locals since it moved to the property in 2002. Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon started the center in 1996 to provide a nurturing space where people could come to learn about meditation, Ayurveda and yoga, said Sara Harvey, COO of the center.

“The location of the Chopra Center at the Omni La Costa Resort is such a blessing as it provides the most serene and supportive environment for our guests,” Harvey said. “We use every bit of space, offering meditation workshops and yoga classes outside on the many lawns, enjoying the beautiful views. “

When it comes to promoting wellness on property, some hotel companies such as Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants like to pull influences from the local community. Take for instance the Kimpton Taconic in Manchester, Vermont, which features well-being touches unique to its location and history, according to Nick Gregory, SVP of hotel operations at Kimpton.

“Manchester, Vermont, is a perfect example. Kimpton Taconic offers thoughtful amenities, like locally crafted in-room walking sticks, adult coloring books, hiking survival kits and in-room yoga mats and trail maps, making it convenient for guests to explore the great outdoors and maintain mindfulness on the go,” Gregory said in an email.

Integrating new wellness trends
The Chopra Center is committed to blending ancient wisdom with the latest modern science, Harvey said, so it doesn’t worry much about trends.

“We do stay current, however, by soliciting feedback from our guests and using that to create new programs that meet their needs,” Harvey said, adding that the core of the Chopra Center’s programs are based on Vedic wisdom that’s more than 5,000 years old.

Gregory said with any new program or partnership, Kimpton as a brand will ask “How will this make our guests’ lives easier, more comfortable and enjoyable when they’re staying with us?”

“We look to our guests for direct feedback and always re-evaluate and update our offerings based on their requests and suggestions,” he added.

When Morgans looked to strike partnerships for its mindful initiatives, the company worked with local hotel teams to identify regional partners that would strongly appeal to the guests in each market, Farhat said.

“For example, our guests in Miami really appreciate the run club/celebrating wellness outdoors, while our guests in New York City tend to appreciate the quick and efficient services Namaste offers given the city’s fast-paced environment,” he said. Namaste New York is a wellness concierge group that offers massage therapy, yoga, personal training, Pilates and meditation sessions developed specifically for hotel guests.

Just a fad?
Wellness is not just a seasonal fad, Farhat said, which is why the company is already looking at new options and adding partnerships moving forward.

“It’s an ongoing effort that people take very seriously, and so do we,” he said, adding that giving guests what they want is what drives the company to innovate its wellness offerings.

“They want more than just going to the hotel gym and doing 30 minutes on the treadmill. They want healthy food options and anything to help them de-stress,” Farhat said.

The same goes for guests at all Kimpton properties, Gregory said, including Kimpton Taconic.

“Ensuring our guests feel their best is a fundamental piece of Kimpton’s brand identity; it’s a given that a hospitality company should focus on mindfulness and well-being,” he said.

People everywhere are more aware and committed to their health, Harvey said.

“They’re looking for ways to combine their travel with feel-good experiences that help them return home feeling healthier and more balanced than before,” she said, adding that hotels that offer wellness opportunities “will enjoy the most success over the decades to come.”

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