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What separates the new spa wellness philosophy with the outdated hotel fitness center and their selection of weight and cardiovascular equipment?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:

MARCH: Hotel Human Resources 2015: Recruiting and Retaining the Best Employees

Cathy  Fyock

The workforce is aging, and many organizations remain unprepared for the changes necessitated by increasing numbers of retirements. What are the old assumptions about retirement, about productivity of older adults, and about what employers can and should do to effectively manage through these changes? This article outlines how the workplace will likely change, and suggest new assumptions and new strategies for maximizing the benefits of an aging workforce. READ MORE

Roberta Matuson

The U.S. labor market in October reached its longest stretch of job creation since at least World War II. U.S. employers, which added 214,000 jobs to payrolls last month, are on track to post the best yearly gain in employment since 1999. The steady job growth has pushed the nation’s unemployment rate down to 5.8%, which is great news for job seekers and not so great news for anyone in search of talent. READ MORE

Cindy Novotny, CHSE

After spending 13 years with the Ritz-Carlton Learning Institute and the last 15 years working with the best hotel companies in the industry, I have learned the best lesson in business today. Inspect what you expect and don’t hire the first warm body that comes through the door, even if they ‘look’ the part and talk a good game. Recruiting great talent takes a lot of time, will try your patience and bust your HR budget on professional recruiters, if you don’t have a plan. The best hiring practice is to ‘select’ NOT ‘hire.’ READ MORE

Bernadette Scott

The intense competition to secure the best talent continues, with organizations engaging evermore creative recruitment strategies to ensure they get the best from international graduate pools. Fueled by new technologies, market globalization and frequent changes to business models, the demand for organizational talent grows. Talent supply, however, is another issue with the World Economic Forum and the Boston Consulting Group (2011) indicating shortage across 25 countries by 2030. A ready-supply of engaged talent is needed to enhance service quality and to achieve this, graduate talent skills sets must become culturally embedded investments across international hospitality industry organizations. READ MORE

Coming Up In The April Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Guest Service: Customer Service is a Key Business Differentiator
In today's hyper-competitive, hyper-connected global marketplace, customer experience has assumed a major role as a key business differentiator. There is a growing understanding that competition based on products or price alone is no longer a viable strategy. Since feature or function advantages can be quickly duplicated and/or enhanced, product innovation is no longer the differentiator it once was. And competition based on price impairs profitability. On the other hand, research indicates that 86 percent of consumers said they would be willing to pay more for a better customer experience. To protect both market share and margins, hotel companies must provide customers with consistent, compelling experiences - before, during, and after their purchases - across all major channels. There are many things organizations can do to deliver a superior customer experience. Management must align everything a company does with the customer service experience in mind. They must assign high value to anticipation of customers' real needs and desires, and they must incentivize and reward personal initiative in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. They must respond quickly to customer requests. They must ensure that customer interactions are highly personalized, and they must deliver the right information to the right place at the right time. And perhaps most importantly, upper management must create a culture where customer service is valued and esteemed, taught and rewarded. Customer experience leaders who can drive this kind of cultural change will radically affect their companies? competitive position and business performance. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.