Health, Wellness and the Independent Hotel!

Healthy guests are happy guests: the importance of wellness in independent hotels

As an independent hotelier, what’s your most important new year’s resolution for 2019?

If like the majority of us you’ve woken up in January thinking “I ate all the mince pies and I need to do something about it then consider this, your guests are probably thinking along similar lines. Perhaps it’s time to incorporate a well-structured and thought out health and wellness program as part of your sales strategy.

Way back in 2016, keynote speakers at the Boutique and Lifestyle Leadership Symposium discussed next-generation hotel trends in detail. They concluded that “modern day wellness” would take centre-stage, in an age where boutique hotels will “do all they can to make authentic experiences a priority”.

The global hotel brands were listening in earnest. In the US, InterContinental Hotels Group launched Even Hotels, a dedicated fitness-focused brand that offers a range of healthy meals, and bedrooms designed for in-room workouts (including coat racks that cleverly double as pull-up bars).

Rocco Forte Hotels now offer a room service menu of exercise videos, spin bikes, mats and exercise balls, with a ‘healthy minibar’ of kale crisps, nuts and cold-pressed juices available to pre-book.

Meanwhile, the Shangri-La Hotel at London’s Shard has recently teamed up with the A-list personal trainer Dan Roberts, offering healthy chef-devised menus, spa treatments and personalised workouts in the clouds.

A stay in any hotel has evolved to become so much more than just bed and breakfast.  Whether travelling for business or pleasure, many people don’t want to compromise their healthy lifestyles while they’re away. In a world that offers so much choice, they are also looking to hotels to inspire them with new and innovative wellness and fitness experiences that stand out.

Not to mention the fact that “wellness travellers…spend 130% more than the average holidaymaker”, according to a survey conducted by The Positivity Space, a team of workplace wellness experts.

While making guests feel good has always been the aim of hospitality, a hotel that can offer innovative opportunities to enhance their wellness, and leave them returning home energised and recharged, will always be ahead of the game.

So, how can the independent hotel get in on the burgeoning wellness act, without a burgeoning budget?

Leverage what you have and make your space work for you

Running fitness classes in your event spaces during quieter periods could be a great start.  Hotels can offer a less intimidating environment than standard gyms, encouraging people to try something new without the pressure of signing up to a whole programme of sessions.

Classes can also be a useful way to showcase your hotel as well as outlets to potential future guests as you can target not only travellers but local clientele who may not have stayed or dined previously.  Providing an add on such as a “health-conscious” menu pre or post a class provides an opportunity to generate revenue from new customers.

If your hotel has a smaller footprint, look to maximise any possible space by getting creative.  For example, how about a yoga or mindfulness session on the roof or terrace? Alternatively look to partner with a well-known and respected external brand. Hotels who have done this well have seen not only great PR but loyalty built from co-branding an event

Take advantage of your location and surrounds

AccorHotels recently launched its millennial-focused economy hotel brand, Jo&Joe, in a popular Biarritz surfer-spot.  The hotel features a ‘surfer’ feel throughout, and even includes a pop-up store in which guests can buy branded surfing equipment and accessories.

While your hotel might not have the benefit of surrounding surf spots, lakes or mountains, it’s still possible for you to offer service-focused wellness solutions.

You could train your staff to be ready with local suggestions for fitness classes, offer in-room relaxation sessions on your TV screens, or partner with local venues to offer morning meditation meetings or evening cardio blasts.

If you’re close to a swimming pool, you could think about pairing up with a local expert to offer diving lessons, or even scuba-diving courses – so your guests will go away armed with a brand-new skill.

Take an holistic approach and look at all aspects including nutrition

In an effort to lure an increasingly health-conscious clientele, Principal Hotel Company recently appointed the lead nutritionist for the Great Britain rowing team, to devise healthy menus for the group’s Principal and De Vere hotels.

While you don’t need to go that far, wellness-focused guests will appreciate a menu that features a selection of lighter options, or for healthier dishes to be highlighted and calorie-counted.

You could also offer healthier options in mini bars and on room-service menus, alongside the standard pizza or burger and chips.

Get creative and think outside the box

Pillow menus are being embraced by hotels and resorts around the world, and are a great way to cater for individual tastes in a thoughtful manner.

You could consider expanding on the pillow menu concept, by offering lavender pillows to aid a relaxed night’s sleep, or even an mp3-added sound pillow, pre-loaded with soothing music.

If you don’t have a spa on site, consider teaming up with a local therapist to offer in-room spa treatments, while fitness enthusiasts may appreciate a selection of local running maps or walking routes available in their room. Why not go one step further and offer a limited range of equipment such as kettle bells, Pilates and Yoga mats or resistance bands alongside an instructional video or an online PT session.

Alongside this, help boost your guests’ hydration levels throughout the day, with water coolers or jugs in public areas, provide water for them when they go out for a run or walk as well as in any area where fitness may take place.

Provide the luxury of choice

Variety will always be the spice of life. Wellness initiatives aren’t about committing your guests to a rigid health schedule, but simply offering everybody the chance to do exactly what suits them during their stay.

If your guests know they’ve got the opportunity to stay healthy, active and mindful if they want, but also to relax with a juicy burger and a bottle of wine on occasion, they will be far more likely to choose your hotel above the competition and by keeping the options fresh and relevant they are also more like to return!

Don’t forget to ensure that your wellness offerings are in line with your overall hotel brand values and ethos, too. Guests will be sure to notice any initiatives that have been half-heartedly tacked on to increase revenue, rather than to genuinely enhance their experience at your hotel.

It’s all about analysing current market trends, then devising innovative, thoughtful and cost-effective methods to incorporate them into your unique hotel strategy.


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