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Why and How Hotels Are Getting Healthier

Courtesy of IHG

You've come to expect a few standard hotel amenities, like mini bottles of shampoo and body wash next to the bathroom sink and an ironing board to fix out-of-the-suitcase wrinkles. And while those are nice to have, they certainly don't replicate your lifestyle at home. Spending a few days on the road for work or for pleasure used to mean you had to ditch your healthy meals for whatever room service could deliver and either struggle through a workout in the poorly equipped gym or postpone your workout entirely. But things have finally changed! These days, hotels are rolling out programs and perks with a focus on wellness. So, what sparked this shift?

"Travelers were on the road more and more and they were finding it harder to stay on track and keep the balance that they had in their everyday lives," says Jason Moskal, vice president of lifestyle brands for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in the Americas. Health and wellness has become more than a trend—it's a lifestyle that many people aren't willing to just put on hold when they hit the road. "I think travelers are looking for brands that help them maintain a healthy lifestyle and make it easier for them to do it," says Moskal. (Plan your healthiest and best vacation ever with this guide.)

For some hotels, that means breaking down the barriers that keep guests from exercising. Gansevoort Park Avenue in New York City, for instance, has a Flywheel studio that can be accessed straight from the hotel, while Residence Inn has partnered with Under Armour Connected Fitness to map out city-specific running routes that take guests past some of the area's best sights.

Other hotels have integrated wellness from the ground up. Equinox is opening its own chain of hotels in 2019, which aim to prove that the brand is more than a luxury gym and they know that your healthy lifestyle doesn't end when you leave their locker room. Currently, EVEN Hotels, which launched under the IHG umbrella in 2012 and just opened its fourth location in Brooklyn, offers each guest a wellness experience. "Wellness means different things to different people," says Moskal. It could be about eating well to one person, while getting a great night's sleep could be goal number one for someone else. That's why EVEN approaches wellness from all angles: fitness, nutrition, rejuvenation, and productivity. Each guest room has a foam roller, yoga mat, yoga block, exercise ball, and resistance bands to make it easy to exercise, and the hotel's café and market serve healthy foods like yogurt bowls and black kale salad (and they can even deal with your gluten intolerance!).

One thing's for sure: "The way we are traveling is changing," says Sallie Fraenkel, a health and wellness travel expert for Travel Leaders Group's Select Wellness Collection. That's a direct result of the fact that the way we're living is changing too, and it's a smart move for hotels to capitalize on the growing trend.

Haven't spotted these health and fitness amenities in your travels yet? Be on the lookout. Wellness travel is projected to grow more than nine percent each year, which is almost 50 percent faster than tourism as a whole, according to Erick Rodriguez, senior vice president of the Travel Leaders Group hotel division.

One day, dumbbells tucked away in the closet could be as standard as the other perks we've grown to expect at hotels. And as for the few extra pounds that tend to sneak up during vacation? Yeah, that could soon be a thing of the past.

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