As executive director of Destination DC, which markets the capital to travelers, Elliott Ferguson knows a thing or two about hotels. When he travels, one of the first things he looks for is a good fitness center.
“Before I physically go up to my room, I stop by … to assess what they have and figure out what I can do,” Ferguson said. “Some hotels offer yoga and cycling and/or at least access to some of the various companies that do that here in Washington, D.C. That really makes a big difference when people are looking at where they’re going to stay.”
A growing number of hotels are making exercising on the road even more accessible — taking equipment to guest rooms.
At the end of May, the Hilton McLean in Virginia became one of two Hiltons to offer Five Feet to Fitness rooms, which have 11 pieces of workout equipment and accessories. They include an indoor Wattbike bicycle and Gym Rax, a training station that lets users tackle body-weight moves with TRX straps. The main attraction is the fitness kiosk, a touch-screen display that offers more than 200 videos, including tutorials on all the equipment, cycling, high-intensity interval training and yoga classes.
Customer feedback drove Hilton to build these rooms, which cost $45 to $90 more per night than standard rooms. About 10 percent to 15 percent of guests use the fitness center, and a quarter expressed interest in an in-room option, said Ryan Crabbe, senior director of global wellness at Hilton. He also cited a February report by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration that says that “46 percent of guests expected to work out in the fitness center during their stay, but only 22 percent actually did so.”
“Fitness centers will remain really important and I think the hub of activity for fitness-minded travelers,” Crabbe said. “We just have a lot of guests who have told us that having an in-room fitness option would provide really nice convenience.”
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown reopened its spa and fitness center in April after a $1.5 million renovation that included the addition of 13 “spa-level” rooms. Costing $65 to $100 more per night, they include a wellness ball, yoga mat, aromatherapy and a white-noise machine.
“Some of those rooms are larger than the standard room, but what we did ensure is that you have enough space in either one of those rooms to do your basic workout and use the equipment that we’ve added,” said Marcus Loevenforst, the hotel’s general manager.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants offers Gaiam yoga mats in every room and on-demand TV programming that guides guests through 15- to 75-minute flow or power yoga or Pilates sessions. There’s also the free “roll-out service,” in which a staff member takes flavored water and fresh or dried fruit and nuts to the room, lays out the mat and turns on the fitness channel.
With no communal gym, Kimpton’s Topaz Hotel in Washington has been providing fitness rooms stocked with an elliptical trainer, treadmill or recumbent bike since 2001. They cost $25 to $30 more than standard rooms, said Ben Timashenka, a regional vice president at Kimpton.
“The person that wants to work out, they want to have the ability to do so, whether that be a fitness center or individualizing your guest room,” Timashenka said.
A high priority
Danielle Young, 32, of San Mateo, Calif., changed her reservation when Westin Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, on April 26 announced its partnership with Peloton, seller of indoor cycling bikes with screens for streaming real-time or on-demand classes. The deal puts the commercial-grade bikes in WestinWorkout rooms and fitness centers in 32 hotels nationwide.
“I literally got off the red-eye and went straight to the gym,” Young said of the Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago Hotel, where she stayed on a recent business trip.
An avid Peloton user since 2014, she travels two to three weeks each month. “I prioritize my fitness when I travel. It’s just a really important element to me,” Young said. “This has made it that much easier for me to know I’m going to get those high-quality workouts.”
About 70 Westins have been offering fitness rooms with cycling bikes or treadmills. The Peloton rooms also have yoga mats, blocks and straps, and light weights that guests can use with Peloton’s Beyond the Ride stretching, core and toning classes.
The partnership came about after a survey by the hotel last year found that 70 percent of global travelers struggle to maintain their wellness routines on the road, said Sarah Lipton, the brand’s global director of marketing and management, and that 51 percent of Westin guests are likely to have gym memberships.
“Gyms have become something that cannot be an afterthought in hotels,” Lipton said.
Another chain taking fitness to the room is Even Hotels by InterContinental Hotels Group, which is featuring cork flooring and exercise equipment for in-room workouts.
Tryp Hotels Worldwide, part of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, has fitness rooms that come with a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike, plus workout gear, clothing and a mat, while guests of Trump Hotels can request in-room equipment, Under Armour workout clothing and loaded iPod shuffles through the Travel Fit program.
With 85 percent of hotels offering an exercise room or fitness facility last year, up from 63 percent in 2004, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2016 Lodging Survey, it’s clear that fitness is growing in importance.