Time was when business travel was synonymous with unhealthy habits – heavy room service meals, uninviting fitness centers and all-too-easy access to the hotel bar – leaving departing guests in considerably worse shape than at check-in. But with a marked increase in the concept of “wellness travel,” hotels across the world are stepping up to offer a wide range of tailor-made, health-conscious services, innovative initiatives and amenities designed to boost nutrition, improve fitness and ensure a better quality of sleep – all within the comfort of your own room.
Is this new-found preoccupation with health and wellness just another passing fad? According to Gaynor Reid, vice-president of communications and CSR Asia Pacific for Accorhotels, “Wellness tourism grew by around 9 percent in 2017 – 50 percent faster than overall global tourism – so we know there is a growing demand from our guests for wellness offerings.”
Driving this upswing in health-consciousness Reid says, “People are more aware of the impact of diet and exercise on longevity and mental health. The bottom line is that health and wellness is no longer a trend; it has become a reality.”
Sean Hunt, Marriott International’s area vice-president for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, agrees. “I think we’re seeing hotel guests – both business and leisure travelers – prioritizing wellness because they’re realizing that maintaining their routine and healthy lifestyle on the road helps them feel better both during and after their stay,” he explains. “In today’s world, looking and feeling good is seen as a luxury.”
Working It Out
A key part of this experience is, of course, fitness. However, with many business travelers short on time, it can be impossible to squeeze in a full gym session – which is why many hotel brands are now bringing the workout direct to guests.
“Pullman Hotels and Resorts recently collaborated with renowned fitness guru Sarah Hoey to develop a program designed to help travelers adopt a healthier lifestyle,” Reid says. This tailor-made program includes a series of short yoga and fitness videos that are available in-room, specially created to support and encourage guests who are looking to incorporate workouts into the busiest of schedules.
Fairmont, another Accorhotels premium brand, offers its President Club loyalty members free use of sneakers and gym clothes from Reebok – a particularly helpful perk for business travelers who often travel only with carry-on luggage.
Meanwhile, Westin Hotels’ “Let’s Rise” campaign includes a series of in-room HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts created by health coach Rachael Finch that are suitable for all fitness levels. The workouts are especially designed for hotel guests and can be comfortably achieved in any guestroom without the need for special equipment.
Westin also offers the option of pre-booking rooms that include a treadmill or a stationary bike and the hotel group has also joined forces with New Balance to provide workout gear for guests to use throughout their stay.
For those who prefer their workouts with a touch of elegance, JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts’ newest venture is totally on point. “Behind the Barre” is a series of in-room fitness videos created in partnership with the Joffrey Ballet. It fuses the elegance of a ballet class with a good workout, and can be incorporated into any existing exercise routine.
Of course there’s more to feeling good than exercise – which is why many hotel groups are focusing on developing a well-rounded approach to their guests’ wellbeing.
For a 360-degree approach to wellness, look for Swissôtel’s Vitality Room concept, which launched in 2016 in collaboration with style magazine Wallpaper. The room is designed to be a complete sanctuary for weary travelers, featuring air purifiers, modifiable circadian lighting, and bathroom options that include individual scents, colored lighting and even adjustable water pressure.
The brand also has a strong focus on improving mental as well as physical wellbeing, offering guests at their Singapore and Sydney properties specially designed postcards, complete with Caran d’Ache colored pencils for a mindful adult coloring session.
Similarly, Westin has also partnered with renowned artist Johanna Basford to create three detailed adult coloring sheets. Available across the Asia-Pacific region, the sheets subtly highlight the hotel’s “Pillars of Wellness” concept, which encourage guests to sleep, eat and move well throughout their stay.
And to deepen your meditation practice, consider Morgans Hotel Group which has properties across the US and in London, Istanbul and Doha. The chain has collaborated with Mindfulness Everywhere, creators of the popular Buddhify app, to produce ten guided meditation sessions for hotel guests to download. These short and easy-to-use sessions aim to make meditation accessible to everyone.
Accessibility is at the heart of The Peninsula Hotels’ new “Yoga in the Mornings” initiative. The group’s Hong Kong and Shanghai properties are among the earliest adopters; all guestrooms contain a dedicated phablet that details a simple yoga routine for guests to try at their leisure – with yoga mats available on request from housekeeping.
Food for Thought
Forget old-school room service menus of uninspiring sandwiches and quick-fix snacks; these days, in-room meals are designed to be both nutritious and delicious.
For example the Intercontinental Hong Kong has collaborated with the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital to create its “ihealth” initiative. Based on academic nutritional guidance from the hospital, Intercontinental’s culinary team created an all-day menu designed to address the prevention of four of the most common health concerns worldwide: diabetes, cardiac disease, hypertension and the need for antioxidants.
Health is also on the menu for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, whose “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served” philosophy has seen the group commit to healthy, sustainable and responsible dining across its properties globally. Initiatives include vegetarian and gluten-free options, a focus on portion control and balanced meals, dishes made with reduced sodium, sugar and calories, and cooking with organic produce, naturally raised meat and sustainably sourced seafood – qualities all reflected in the group’s “Healthy Balance” in-room menus worldwide.
While exact dishes vary between properties – allowing individual chefs creative flexibility – they all offer tailor-made “flavorful, healthful and perfectly portioned options.” This is showcased in the “Create Your Own” section, where guests customize their dishes with a choice of proteins (typically available pan-fried, grilled or steamed), vegetable-centric sides and sauces.
Wellness lies at the forefront of the latest additions to The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong’s room service offerings – a selection of fresh juices and an acai bowl designed by leading iridologist and detox expert Jennifer Thompson. These creations are packed with superfood ingredients that deliver a wide range of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and omega-3, all carefully chosen to achieve different goals.
If you’re planning a health-conscious company event, the Ritz-Carlton Bali’s innovative Healthy Meeting options have got you covered. Split into three categories (Detox, Energy Boost and Revitalizing Secret), these four- to six-hour experiences include team-building exercises like t’ai chi or beach volleyball, alongside several nutritious group meals.
Attendees can enjoy a healthy organic breakfast and three-course lunch, plus wellness breaks for purifying juices, infused waters, health-enhancing teas and nourishing snacks. All meals have been devised to focus on food with a low glycemic index to aid digestion – a definite improvement on unappetizing spreads of sandwiches and cookies in anonymous conference rooms.
After a hard day’s work, nothing beats crawling into a comfy bed – and hotels are taking the art of getting a good night’s sleep to a whole new level.
This can be seen in Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong’s Entertainment Suite, which features the FreshBed Sleep System. This system utilizes patented climate-control technology that allows guests to adjust the bed to their preferred temperature, with silent ventilation to ensure allergen-free air, combined with an ergonomic mattress.
Four Seasons’ signature bed is equally impressive. Created in partnership with Simmons Bedding, its mattress uses advanced technology to keep you cool throughout the night and provide optimal support for your frame. You can also pick between three mattress toppers and a pillow menu filled with choices suitable for different types of sleeper – including a buckwheat option for relieving allergies and neck pain, or a stone type that provides a cooling sensation and head support.
The rooms themselves have been fully outfitted to promote an excellent night’s sleep, with thorough soundproofing, in-room temperature controls, lighting chosen to complement the body’s circadian clock, and even interior design elements scientifically proven to have soothing effects on the brain.
Westin takes a similarly multifaceted approach. In addition to the brand’s “Heavenly Bed,” there’s a “Sleep Well” bedside amenity – a lavender balm infused with essential oils that ease tension and help guests wind down naturally – and in-room dining menu, curated by nutritionists at SuperFoodsRX. Guests can also opt for a scheduled “Bedtime Call,” a reminder of when you should turn in for the night depending on what time you need to be up in the morning, based on guidelines from the World Sleep Society.