This year’s business and vacation travel season is (mercifully) looking a lot different to 2020. The TSA by May was reporting in excess of 2 million checkpoint visitors a day and global hotel occupancy jumped from 31 to 46 percent between January and April of this year alone. Summer is already even busier. The good news that hotels are booming again is, however, bringing demand-driven price increases and guests eager for the best experiences possible from checking in to on-site amenities and even working out. Much has changed in the hotel fitness experience in the past 12 months. If you’re in charge of guest experience in any way – or headed to a hotel on your own trip – here’s a primer on what you need to know.
Experience the Top Need for Hotel Guests
It’s been a long time since the hotel gym was a barely used room down a dark hallway or hidden in the basement. Over the last few years, competition between developers and designers to create standout looks and experiences from guest rooms to sleek lobbies has become intense. That competition has now turned to the fitness center, gym or hotel club as the next symbol of experiential luxury in a very competitive industry. Many mid-tier to luxury boutique hotel and international chain properties now feature mood lighting, exclusive spa treatments and services and a rapidly upgraded technology experience from floor-to-ceiling video walls to surround-sound audio for workouts. The next frontier will be in-room access to virtual fitness content, classes and content that guests already enjoy on their schedule and at their convenience in the hotel fitness facility.
The Gym is Now Virtually Anywhere You Are
One rapid advancement in hotel fitness is the rise of go-anywhere fitness access from apps such as FLEX by FitnessOnDemand. The advent of “dial-up” and stream-anywhere fitness programming apps and platforms that was an early pandemic necessity for all fitness facilities has now become a mainstay of convenient, healthy consumer lifestyles. For hotels, the arrival of tools to provide access to fitness content anywhere on premise is fast becoming a cost-efficient way to create a seamless fitness experience for guests who now want to take the same class or do the same workout in their rooms as they do in the hotel gym. As 2021 rolls along, expect to see more guest demand for this kind of cutting-edge fitness offering.
Focus on Wellness Growing
With the wellness tourism industry earmarked to grow almost 10 percent in 2022, the new era of hotel-based fitness is just as much about a steam shower, massage, wind-down and meditation as it is about feeling the burn of an on-demand virtual trainer class. Bloomberg reported earlier this spring new hotel brand Siro will focus exclusively on an integrated wellness offering: streaming fitness content but also, mindfulness and relaxation sessions and instruction. As luxury brands lead the charge with on-site nutritionists and healthy-menu offerings, all hotels will move toward a more curated, integrated overall wellness for guests who want relaxation, peace and a personalized experience whether they’re shifting gears from a day of meetings or traveling with the family for vacation.
Over-Sized Facilities Making Big Impact
Look at some of the newest trends in hotel fitness design and you’ll see one other thing in common: size. The Whitney Peak Hotel features a custom 7,000 square feet wall climbing facility. The Hilton Anatole’s seven-acre Verandah club features 80,000 square feet of indoor fitness, racquetball courts, running track and access to the Jade Waters Resort Pool Complex, while the Ritz Carlton in Boston offers guests 114,000 square feet of facilities at their on-site Equinox Sports Club. Not every hotel chain or developer can invest, or should, in these kinds of footprints but the scale and quality of offerings from personalized fitness to comprehensive amenities for guests is having a knock-on effect across the industry that we’ll see in coming months and years.