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Hotels are Differentiating Through In-Room Wellness Offerings

In-room wellness offerings are a booming opportunity for hoteliers. The rapidly emerging wellness sector grew 6.5 per cent annually from 2015 to 2017 globally — more than double the growth rate for tourism in general — according to the Florida-based Global Wellness Institute’s (GWI) Global Wellness Tourism Economy Executive Summary, published in November 2018. According to the report, in 2017 travellers spent $639 billion globally on wellness travel — defined by GWI as travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing.

The sector is divided into two categories: primary wellness travel, which is for the specific purpose of wellness (a stay at a yoga retreat or an eco-spa); and secondary wellness, by which travellers seek to either maintain or enhance wellness while travelling (hitting the hotel gym).

Of the $639-billion, 89 per cent was spent on secondary wellness. “There is a tremendous opportunity here to attract that guest by offering up a broad range of options for wellness across your brands,” says Melissa Walker, senior director of Global Brand Wellness, Hilton.

Enter in-room amenities.

In 2017, Hilton unveiled its “Five-Feet-to-Fitness” wellness concept — a new room category that brings fitness equipment and accessory options right into the guestroom. “Women, particularly, love this room,” says Walker. “It’s life changing when you know you have the privacy of your own gym.”

The concept is a mini-gym installed in the guestroom. It features an automated touch-screen kiosk that provides more than 200 guided exercise tutorials and classes, utilizing equipment such as TRX suspension straps, sandbells and a LifeFitness indoor cycle. The kiosk even offers content for seniors and people with disabilities. “We’ve been noticing seniors were booking the rooms for the privacy they afford,” says Walker.

A variety of yoga and meditation videos are also included, or guests can simply disconnect and meditate on their own utilizing the meditation chair provided.

The room concept also addresses post-workout needs, including a complementary hydration station offering water, coconut water and Powerade among others. Packets of Biofreeze are available to treat sore muscles.

In 2016, Walker says, Hilton began looking at its fitness programs — what was working and what wasn’t. In focus groups exploring in-room fitness possibilities, the message received was that an in-room fitness space had to be inclusive. “It had to be robust enough to give guests lots of options.” It also found there isn’t just one target demographic. “While we initially targeted the business transient, the message that came home clearly was that this room has no limitations,” Walker explains.

By 2020, Walker says “Five Feet to Fitness” will be the global brand standard for Hilton Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by Hilton brands. “We’re rolling it out around the world,” Walker shares. To date, rooms have been installed in 14 different Hilton properties in the U.S. and Hilton recently opened its first Five Feet to Fitness-equipped property in Canada — the newly opened DoubleTree by Hilton Quebec Resort in Quebec City.

Anthony L’Heureux, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Quebec Resort, says to date, three suites in the 102-room hotel have been converted to the concept. The rooms are categorized as a separate room type, so guests can select them while making reservations. And a premium of about 20 per cent represents an upselling opportunity for reservationists.

So far, each property offering the room type features about three Five Feet to Fitness rooms. And, Walker says both Hilton Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by Hilton will be rolling out the rooms through the end of 2020 — the year it becomes a brand standard for DoubleTree.

“When people are travelling, they want to feel their best,” says Walker. “The recognition of this has never been higher and we haven’t even reached the peak yet. This is the Golden Age of wellness.”

Westin Hotels & Resorts has recognized a dynamic shift within the wellness market in the last decade, according to Sabrina Bhangoo, director of Public Relations – Canada, Marriott International. While the brand primarily targets achievers (those who are ambitious and strive for personal and professional achievement in all they do), this has evolved to include travellers who want to see authenticity in their travel.

According to the GWI report, wellness travellers are high-yield, spending more per trip than the average traveller — 53-per-cent more in 2017. Wellness travellers are typically more affluent, educated and well-travelled and tend to be “early adopters who will try out new and novel experiences,” according to the report.

Ross Meredith, general manager of the Westin Ottawa says in-room wellness amenities are a key part of hospitality’s future. “We want you to leave feeling better than when you arrived,” he explains. “People don’t want to interrupt their wellness routines just because they’re travelling. In many cases, they want to enhance it.”

For more than a decade, Westin’s Sleep-Well initiative has offered guests a signature Sleep Well in-room-dining menu, with selections high in amino acids, vitamins and minerals, designed to help guests feel their best while travelling. Grilled wild salmon with walnut and quinoa and a micro-chopped turkey salad are among the offerings. The Sleep Well collection also features the brand’s signature lavender balm — an aromatherapy bedside amenity long lauded for its calming effects.

For the fitness-conscious, Westin’s gear-lending program is designed for guests who want to maintain their fitness routine without the added bulk of packing their fitness gear. All it takes is a phone call to guest services and, within 15 minutes, guests will have gear delivered to their rooms. The Westin Ottawa offers New Balance running shoes and clothing for $5.95 per stay.

Many Westin hotels across the U.S. also offer Peloton stationary bikes in-room. The bikes are equipped with a state-of-the-art HD touchscreen that streams hundreds of workout classes. Meredith notes three-to-four per cent of rooms in Westin hotels are currently equipped with stationary bikes and treadmills.

As Meredith sees it, wellness travel is a global phenomenon that’s here to stay. “It’s a worldwide position. [It doesn’t] matter what country, what language — wellness crosses every boundary. And I don’t think it has limits.”

Written by Marina Davalos

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