Turn your traditional hotel gym into a wellness oasis
by Milan Jara
Gone are the days when traditional hotel gyms qualified as “self-care” hotspots for the average traveler.
Most of the time, your typical hotel “gym rat” will be the ultra-determined and motivated health enthusiast who insists that a person can get a good workout in anywhere they go. But that doesn’t mean they enjoy working out and treating themselves to their sacred self-care time in a dingy basement or a windowless room with mirrors on every wall.
If you’re looking to up the ante with your amenities, instead of just offering great deals or the usual free Wi-Fi (even if it is high-speed Internet), it’s time to take a reflective look at just what the guests are using while they stay at your hotel. According to one study conducted by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, only 22 percent of people actually use the hotel gym.
Why are hotels sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars on creating luxurious experiences from start to finish for their guests if they’re not willing to invest in the one thing many avid travelers search for in a hotel: the gym.
In truth, guests are looking for wellness centers rather than traditional gyms in their hotels of choice because they provide an oasis, an escape, from the outside world while they’re away from home. One treadmill and one set of weights are no longer going to cut it for today’s wellness seeker, so it’s time to shake things up.
When you start considering the next steps to achieving your wellness oasis goals, it’s important to keep the age range you’re appealing to at the forefront. According to a recent study, about 55 percent of travelers are millennials. What exactly does this mean? It means that putting in amenities that address their mind, body, and soul collectively is the way to go! This age group is determined to make sure their entire being is centered and connected at all times! Open up a spot that allows millennials to decompress, reenergize, and reconnect, and you’ve got yourself a gold mine!
So, how exactly does a traditional gym get transformed into a wellness oasis, a luxurious spot for guests to explore and enjoy during their stay?
Wellness Floors + Suites
Today’s society is consumed with the idea of self-care and finding what that means for each and every individual. And while, realistically, you cannot meet the needs and demands of every single guest (though you certainly can try), you might be on the lookout for options that provide the closest thing possible to individualized care.
One way to do this is to offer a wellness floor that includes wellness suites and rooms specifically designed with a person’s overall health and wellness in mind.
Certain amenities or upgrades could be offered on the wellness floor or even in each room, things like air purifiers, essential oil turn-down services, the perfect Thai massage, water filters, an in-room wellness treatments, possibly in-room spa services, a swimming pool on the balcony, a hot tub, and so much more. The sky really is the limit when it comes to thinking of the perfect place to give your guests a chance to unwind and recharge their minds, bodies, and souls.
Of course, these upgrades come with a higher nightly rate than your average hotel room. But for the health and wellness seeker, the higher rate will not deter them. In fact, the higher nightly rate could possibly encourage them to feel as if they were getting something extra special and VIP-like in service (and they absolutely are).
Think of this area as a way to let guests know they deserve the best and are offered the best at your hotel and you are guaranteed to book quicker and more frequently!
Spa + Meditation Rooms
Nothing screams “wellness” and “self-care” quite like a spa and meditation room.
It’s possible that being a “spa hotel” that offers a spa and meditation room in place of a traditional gym would appeal to a much wider range of people than you might be currently serving to ensure the perfect “pamper party.”
Like with the salon of yesteryear, spas are seen as the ultimate self-care reward that allows a person to escape reality and sink deep into relaxation for an extended period of time. These spa treatments could be add-ons to your guest’s stay or a part of the wellness floor you create.
When a spa is located in such a place that offers easy transitions from the gym to the spa to the room, guests feel transformed from the very beginning. They’re transported to their own slice of heaven, a true self-care moment for each person who enters.
You could offer spa treatments such as steam rooms, massages, whirlpools, cryotherapy, and even hydrotherapy.
Another great option to bring in wellness for the soul and mind to your hotel is through meditation. Guided meditations, group meditations, or even a meditation room that allows guests to escape the noisy world around them and regroup and reground is a great option for guests.
Traditional gym rooms can feel intimidating, overwhelming, and sometimes isolating. That is why guests often shy away from using the hotel gym during their stay, leaving you with a room that is unoccupied and devoid of human interaction.
If you are set on having the gym atmosphere in your hotel for those avid gym goers, you could throw in a group exercise schedule to allow others the opportunity to experience the workout with a group of like-minded people rather than alone.
Budgetary reasons may prohibit you from actually hiring a full-time exercise instructor for your hotel. One alternative you could try is to employ one of your staff members for 1–2 days a week to lead group exercises in the gym location or out in the courtyard (depending on your weather). This could be a great way to ease into the idea of having a group-exercise option for your guests and could allow you the chance to see if the idea works for your clientele.
Group exercises take the isolation out of working out and allow your guests to mingle with other guests, while also taking care of themselves at the same time.
Health Food Bar
Continental breakfasts, full bars, and the latest health-food restaurants offer guests from all walks of life the option to enjoy indulgences while at your hotel that they might not experience at home.
Incorporating health-food bars that offer healthier alternatives to snacks such as smoothies, protein shakes, gluten-free, and vegan options, for example, allows your guests to get a fully customizable stay experience while they are on your premises.
Wellness and self-care go from the inside out, including food and beverage. With today’s food options heading toward the healthier side of things, having a health-food bar could up your game in the hotel industry by quite a few points.
With wellness floors/suites, spa/meditation rooms, and health-food bars, your guests are transported to a whole new world when they step foot into your hotel. Their stay and VIP treatment will leave them feeling cared for and like royalty (which every guest should feel like when they leave your front door).
Milan Jara, founder of Decorative Ceiling Tiles, Inc., migrated to the U.S. at age 20 from the Czech Republic and has been serving the hospitality industry for more than 10 years.
Cornell University School of Hotel Administration – https://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1241&context=chrpubs