February 2, 2016 12:20 am

Hotels expand options to keep guests healthy on the road

Paula Walker, center foreground, an instructor with Green Monkey Yoga, leads a yoga class at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. The hotel world is moving beyond basement gyms and ho-hum spa menus to accommodate guests’ growing requests to stay healthy while on the road.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Running concierges, a hotel mini bar stocked with produce from the local farmers market and a training wall that comes standard in every room. The hotel industry is moving beyond basement gyms and basic spa menus to accommodate guests’ growing requests to stay healthy while on the road.

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The trend has been a mainstay at spas and wellness resorts for years, but now hotels frequented by business travellers and families are showing that life on the go doesn’t have to mean sacrificing spin class or a quinoa superfood bowl. Boutique and luxury hotels along with big name brands including Westin and Wyndham have vastly expanded fitness programs and dining options in recent years. The luxury gym Equinox is even opening its own hotel in New York.

The number of hotels with fitness facilities jumped from 63 per cent in 2004 to 84 per cent in 2014, according to a study by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. And hotels offering in-room exercise equipment has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, from seven to 13 per cent, according to the study.

“It’s what the marketplace is demanding,” said Dena Roche, wellness travel expert and editor of The Travel Diet website. “People are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle in their daily life so when they go on the road they want to keep doing those things.”

At the Even Hotels, every room has a training zone with a yoga mat, exercise ball, foam roller and a mounted fitness wall with resistance bands plus 19 videos and training guides to help you get your sweat on. Wyndham guests can request a room stocked with an exercise machine (like a stationary bike, elliptical machine or treadmill) and free workout wear, and the W hotel chain partnered with popular yogi Tara Stiles for free in-room yoga videos and a set of tip cards placed around the room to suggest poses to help you relax, wake up or get in the mood.

“It’s pushing from a trend to a tipping point where there’s mass adoption around wellness into every aspect of people’s lives,” Jason Moskal, a vice-president at Intercontinental Hotels Group, which owns the Even brand. Even Hotels have three locations, including one in New York City, and are planning to open eight more including one in Miami.

“Everyone has a different aspect of what they’re looking for … the hotel was designed with this idea of wanting wellness on my own terms,” he said.

Rooftop yoga classes are all the rage at hotels across the country including The James Hotel in New York and the Mondrian South Beach. Guests at The Standard in Miami Beach can also enjoy waterfront yoga or stand-up paddle board classes and grab a green drink from the hotel’s juice bar. Their spa, which offers a variety of fitness classes for guests (some are for members only) is also a hub for sessions taught by some of the world’s top yogis.

Spinning junkies only have to walk downstairs at the 1 Hotel South Beach for a Soul Cycle class.

Forgot to pack your workout clothes? No problem. Trump Hotels and Fairmont have partnered with Under Armour and Reebok respectively to style your workout. Westin’s lending program with New Balance had a 16 per cent increase in requests in 2015. At the hotel’s Grand Central location in New York, more than 2,000 guests paid $5 to use a new pair of sneakers and clothes delivered to their room.

Kimpton’s running kit includes a map of the Hudson River running path and pre-loaded iPod shuffle. Fairmont and several other hotels have running programs including “run concierges” at roughly 200 Westin locations and other options for runners.

The beefed-up offerings come as guests, particularly younger ones, say it’s one of the deciding factors on where they will stay. Forty-five per cent of millennials and 38 per cent of Gen-Xers said spa and fitness centres were influential in where they booked a room, according to a 2015 survey from travel and hospitality marketing firm MMGY Global.

Several hotel chains are also targeting the tech-minded fitness buffs. Trump SoHo has a new program that gives guests a free Fitbit Charge to help track whether they meet their daily step goal. Westin is also partnering with Fitbit to deliver personalized video-based exercises that guests can download on their phones or on the Internet along with real-time feedback.

And there’s no need to wonder whether there are gluten-free options at hotel restaurants. Most have even revamped the notoriously calorie-laden room service menus.

The Epiphany Hotel in Palo Alto, California, offers guests a fridge stocked with produce from a local farmers market, green juices and homemade power bars for $95. Kimpton hotels overhauled room-service menus, substituting quinoa and oats for white flour. Westin developed a SuperFoodsRx menu and Trump Hotels also has express menus for health-minded guests where dishes like stir-fried veggies and tofu can be delivered to your room in 15 minutes or less.

“This is definitely a lifestyle choice that is here to stay,” said Ivanka Trump, an executive vice-president of The Trump Organization. “Rather than allowing travel to be an impediment to maintaining one’s nutrition and fitness goals, we want to help our guests succeed and achieve in maintaining their commitment to a healthy and balanced lifestyle while on the road.”

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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