Mr. Broadhag

Spas, Health & Fitness

Incorporating Spa-like Principles into Your Hotel Fitness Center

By Kurt A. Broadhag, President, K Allan Consulting

Intimidation within the gym is a combination of design elements, equipment selection, and a lack of knowledge by prospective members/guests. One of the most effective ways to overcome the intimidation factor associated with fitness centers is to offer exceptional customer service by creating a "personal experience" for each guest that walks into the fitness center. This concept, used for years in the spa industry, has gained popularity with the increase in spa services offered in the hotel setting. This integration of spa and fitness services has resulted in a much higher level of customer satisfaction within the fitness center that hotel guests expect regardless of whether or not your hotel offers spa services.

Spas are typically thought of as places to enhance personal well-being in relation to the mind, body, and spirit. Although there are many facets to the spa experience there are only a handful that can be incorporated into the stand alone fitness center. One obvious similarity is the concept of wellness in everyday life. This is the easiest and most effective component to integrate into the hotel fitness center from the simple fact that exercise serves as the cornerstone to a healthy lifestyle.

What separates the new spa wellness philosophy with the outdated hotel fitness center and their selection of weight and cardiovascular equipment? It's based on the transition from fitness to wellness and the additional healthy lifestyle components. Now, to appeal to a much larger guest demographic hotel fitness centers must incorporate these wellness philosophies with other spa-like principles including similar levels of ambiance, exceptional customer service, and added amenities to create the "personal experience" within the gym many have become accustomed to in the spa.

When you think of spa-like services you are encompassing the entire workout experience from the moment the guest inquires about the hotel fitness center. A well though out wellness philosophy is key in defining your hotel fitness center throughout the entire workout experience and will help in the early phases of the design process where decisions must be made based upon these factors. Procurement of fitness equipment and accessories, interior design elements and color schemes, lighting and A/V installation are all decisions faced by the design team affected by this philosophy. In addition to helping in the design phase this theme can be carried out throughout your marketing material and within the fitness center to promote the wellness component thus attracting those guests interested in living this healthy, active lifestyle.

The wellness component consists of activities and informative material for both inside and out of the fitness center. Outdoor activities serve to connect the individual with nature enhancing the mind/body experience and can include group classes such as water aerobics, meditation, yoga, and recreational outings. Literature associated with this can include schedules, class descriptions, and maps for local hiking/running trails. Additional literature promoting wellness within the hotel can include other items such as a guide for healthy eating within the hotel. Obvious wellness components within the fitness center include such things as strength training, cardiovascular training, stretching, and balance/body awareness, all promoted by offering a wide variety of fitness equipment and accessories as well as instructions on their usage. If the fitness center is staffed then qualified, certified instructor can guide your guests through the process. If the facility is non-staffed then a variety of workouts with descriptions of each exercise can be created for guests to follow specific to their needs.

Creating a spa-like ambience within the hotel fitness center is another important component to incorporate into the physical plant. This ambiance is defined through the senses of sight, sound, and smell and to a lesser extent touch and taste. Controlling the environment with proper background sound through light music and integrating some sort of wireless headphone system for the televisions or personal screens enhances the auditory experience. Using proper lighting with the incorporation of natural lights through windows and skylights with views allows a connection with nature. Proper facility maintenance through regular cleaning combined with a light aromatic scent enhances the olfactory experience. Regular cleaning also keeps surfaces and equipment free of bacteria and clean to the touch. Finally, offering a lightly flavored water or fresh fruit, often found in the spa setting, appeases the sense of taste.

Customer service is the one of the major components often overlooked in the hotel fitness center. Hotels with combined spa's/fitness centers and the larger staffed fitness centers obviously have the advantage of offering customer service with full-time staff on hand but even that needs to be monitored. Staff members involved in the fitness center need to be fully-trained in all aspects of operation including equipment function to offer the best customer service. Guests should always be treated with a warm smile, proper direction and instructions in terms of exercise, and appreciation. For non-staffed facilities this area can be somewhat difficult to maintain but not impossible. Front desk personnel can be trained on basic equipment usage and exercise charts/cards can be created to guide guests through the process as a supplement. It is important that a certain level of customer service extends to additional staff members who may be inside the fitness center including the repair/maintenance, janitorial, and outside trainers since they are a direct reflection of your hotel.

More and more hotels are offering spa-like amenities as an added feature in their fitness centers. Many of these are traditional components taken to the next level. Water fountains are being replaced with bottled water and/or flavored water. Regular workout towels are being replaced with larger count spa towels with the addition of smaller "refreshing" towels chilled after soaked in a mixture of water and lemon. A large selection of current reading material, both newspapers and magazines are at the guest's disposal. Fresh fruit is available for guests to take with them after exercising. All these components, be it small individually, combine to increase the overall spa experience.

The hotel fitness center experience has transformed and a higher level of guest expectations must be met. This trend, partially due to increased popularity of the hotel spa, has given rise to a new breed of fitness centers with a broader wellness component, spa-like ambiance, and higher levels of customer service. Gyms once promoting strength training and cardiovascular exercise must now include the spa principles of mind, body, and spirit. The result - travelers are more and more demanding when it comes to their workout experience. Incorporating basic spa-like principles and staying on top of the daily operations will ensure your hotel fitness center meets the demands of the current trends.

Kurt Broadhag has over 16 years of experience in personal training and gym design. He is president of K Allan Consulting, a firm specializing in health club design and management. K Allan Consulting works in unison with property owners, architects, and interior designers to address fitness solutions and develop functional workout environments. The company specializes in two-dimensional and three-dimensional fitness facility renderings, consulting from conceptual design to final installation. Kurt obtained his LEED AP certification and has authored articles on green fitness center design. Mr. Broadhag can be contacted at 310-601-7768 or kbroadhag@kallanconsulting.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

JULY: Hotel Spa: The Expanding Wellness Movement

Leslie  Wolski

As the wellness movement expands hotels are scrambling to offer a healthy environment to their health and fitness focused guests. Owners and general managers realized years ago that the spa is more than an amenity, but now the market is driving them to further develop their spa and fitness components. The challenge is to combine spa and fitness to create an authentic wellness experience that is true to their hotel brand. READ MORE

David  Stoup

We are in the Age of Wellness. The archaic cultures of waste and over-consumption, have given way to a healthier and more holistic mainstream ideology. Corporate social responsibility, sustainability, going-green, and locally grown are just a few phrases that define this era. Virtually every business sector has taken a stance on wellness including automotive, finance and energy. Finally tourism has joined this growing trend. READ MORE

Deborah  Evans Parker

If possible while reading this article, sit with your bare feet directly on the Earth’s surface – concrete, dirt, gravel or grass. You will experience what you are reading about, how contact with the Earth’s natural healing energy, electrical field, restores your body’s natural electrical field. The positive shift you feel is the beginning of process in which your body becomes recharged from the multitude of Earth’s electrons when direct contact is made. This is Earthing, a simple, safe and natural healing process that reduces inflammation, improves sleep and energizes the body. READ MORE

Tracey Anne Latkovic

In today's fast-paced, overscheduled and hyper-stressed world, it's not easy to find the time to slow down. In the past, activities like a quiet visit to a coffee shop or well-deserved appointment at the spa allowed you to quiet the mind. Not so anymore. The traditional spa experience may not even allow the separation needed to slow down the pace. At day spas everywhere these days, guests are seen carrying their cell phones and iPads and even continuing to use them during their treatments. With this frenetic pace, people are not slowing down enough to ask important spiritual questions: Why am I here? How can I contribute to what is needed in this world? How can I find peace? And one thing is for certain, you aren’t going to find the answers to those questions at Starbucks or on your smart phone. READ MORE

Coming Up In The August Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Food and Beverage: Investing to Keep Pace
After five harrowing years of recession and uncertain recovery, revenues in the hotel industry (including food and beverage) have finally surpassed the previous peak year of 2007. Profits are once again on the rise and are expected to advance for the foreseeable future. The consequence of this situation means that hotel operators now have the funds to invest in their food and beverage operations in order to keep pace with rapidly changing industry trends and the evolving tastes of their hotel guests. One of the most prominent recent trends is the “Locavore Movement” which relies heavily on local sources to supply products to the hotel restaurant. In addition to fresh produce, meats and herbs, some operators are engaging local craft breweries, distilleries, bakers, coffee roasters and more to enhance their food and beverage options, and to give their operation a local identity. This effort is designed to increasingly attract local patrons, as well as traveling hotel guests. Some hotels are also introducing menus that cater to both the calorie and the ingredient conscious. Gluten-free, low-cal and low-carb menu items prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients are available to more fitness-minded guests. Another trend is placing greater emphasis on “comfort” and “street” foods which are being offered in more casual settings. The idea is to allow chefs to create their own versions of these classic recipes, with the understanding that the general public seems to be eschewing more formal dining options. Finally, because the hotel lobby is becoming the social epicenter of its operation – a space which both guests and locals can enjoy – more diverse and expanded food and beverage options are available there. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on all the recent trends and challenges in the food and beverage sector, and document what some leading hotels are doing to augment this area of their business.