Skift Take

By placing large gyms just off the lobbies, streamlining the guest experience at every touchpoint, and anchoring the brand mission in wellness, EVEN Hotels could inspire more people to actually workout.

While some people are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling, many others are often distracted from eating the right food, getting enough sleep and finding the energy to exercise.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) launched its new EVEN Hotels brand this month in Norwalk, CT and Rockwell, MD for people in both the first and second groups, but mostly the second.

The inspiration came from companies like Whole Foods and REI who’ve created hardcore communities of loyal customers around their active lifestyle core mission.

“There really wasn’t a holistic wellness brand in the hospitality space,” says Adam Glickman, head of EVEN Hotels. “So we asked how do we create that, and our solution is EVEN Hotels. And we bring that to life by recognizing that we need to help our guests do four things: keep active, eat well, rest easy and accomplish more.”

In effect, those four brand values equate to more than just fitness. Combined together, they’re a lifestyle makeover designed to help guests at every touchpoint follow through on their health goals by approaching wellness from different angles.

EVEN Hotels’ signature Athletic Studios are large gyms located just off the lobby “WellCome Island,” which Glickman explains has replaced the registration desk. Frosted glass panels with leafy artwork separate the three-zone gym from the general lobby population, but guests can still feel the energy, hear the upbeat music and see that people are working out.

Adjacent to that, the Flex Room is designed for spinning and yoga sessions. There’s also a Chief Wellness Officer who leads guests through daily communal exercises.

“It’s very much about providing positive options of encouragement, motivation and support,” explains Glickman. “If a hotel gym is at the back of a hallway that has eight-foot ceilings, old equipment and no windows, that isn’t really a place I want to go. Our workout experience feels more like a real gym, and not a typical hotel exercise room. We’ve also found that a lot of people don’t like going far away from others to workout because maybe they feel unsafe. We’re the opposite of that.”

Wise Food, Workout Rooms & WellWellWell

The brand’s “upscale, fast casual” Cork & Kale Market restaurant concept is a collaboration with Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group, who developed the Founding Farmers restaurants, and SPE-certified nutritional consultants.

Even though everything is grab-and-go, menu items like kale and prosciutto pizzas, and power granola breakfasts with goji berries and agave nectar, are designed to be healthy, sustainable and tasty. The Cork & Kale bars feature everything from organic smoothies to cocktails with fresh herbs and natural mixers.

EVEN Hotels’ room product is free of clutter with smart TVs, ergonomic furniture and beds with natural eucalyptus linens. At the 129-room EVEN Hotel Norwalk and 167-room EVEN Hotels Rockwell, the rooms have “In-Room Training Zones” complete with a balance ball, yoga mat and exercise accessories.

Even the headboards were specifically designed to support the back while working or reading in bed.

That efficiency and lack of clutter goes to the heart of why a lot of people’s workout regimens run into a wall. You pull out all of your devices and cords, your clothes are scattered about, there’s extra furniture and fixtures everywhere that you never use. Suddenly the idea of changing into workout gear seems insurmountable.

“A great bed is essential but the Rest Easy component is more about clearing your mind and cleaning your body so you can workout for 40 minutes, get a great night of sleep, and feel more productive in the morning,” says Glickman.

None of this wellness mindset matters of course if the Wi-Fi is sketchy, because few things make you reach for the nearest Mars bar or minibar than a weak in-room signal.

“The way we’ve designed the platform is our guests told us, ‘When I stay at a hotel, my Wi-Fi should be just as good as it is at home,’” says Glickman. “People want to download big files and they want to watch their Netflix, and we’ve designed the brand to basically match that. We have very big pipes to accomplish that and we’ve made big bandwidth a brand standard.”

IHG is now aligning EVEN Hotels with its previously existing healthy living website to help build community and guest engagement around the new brand. The upbeat content ranges from Why Your Belly Fat Won’t Budge to Good Mood Foods.

Much of the edit is sourced from IHG’s media partners such as Prevention and Women’s Health, so the edit is fairly indepth and engaging with well-researched advice and insight.

“There’s a lot of tools and websites that address wellness overall, and a lot of tools and sites that address travel,” says Glickman. “But we didn’t feel there was a lot out there about wellness travel to help people keep that healthy balance when they’re traveling.”

Three more EVEN properties are in development—two Manhattan hotels and one in Brooklyn—which will begin to open starting late next year.

Greg Oates covers hotel/tourism development and travel brand media. email / twitter

Tags: intercontinental hotel group, wellness

Photo credit: King guest room at EVEN Hotels Norwalk EVEN Hotels

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