This is especially ideal for guests who (1) don't want their colleagues (or the general public) to see their sweaty selves in the hotel gym and (2) those rare souls who want to work out 24/7 as if no one is watching.
Hilton has designed a new room category for its full-service brands that brings the fitness center into the guest room. Called Five Feet to Fitness, this new room type includes more than 11 pieces of fitness equipment and accessories that make it easier for travelers to work out privately in their own guest rooms.
Hilton isn’t the first hotel company to include fitness equipment in the guest room. Even Hotels from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), for example, has had this feature, gym equipment in guest rooms, as a brand standard across all rooms from its start in 2012.
However, the types of fitness equipment Hilton is placing in the room, and the way it’s being utilized in a standard room setting is unique, said Ryan Crabbe, senior director of global wellness for Hilton.
“This room is a really different offering,” Crabbe said. “Five Feet to Fitness is a purpose-built environment. It’s easy to deliver or just place a piece of fitness equipment or accessory into a room, but it’s harder to transform the room so that it actually becomes a credible space for that activity. We could have just thrown everything into a room and placed a cardio bike on a carpeted guest room floor. But we ripped out the carpet and put down performance flooring that you’d find in the world’s best fitness centers.”
Equipment in the room includes an indoor bike from Wattbike and a training station called Gym Rax that lets guests do strength, core, suspension, and high-intensity interval training-style exercises. Embedded into the Gym Rax apparatus is a digital Fitness Kiosk, a touchscreen display where guests can watch equipment tutorials and more than 200 workouts that include cardio, cycling, endurance, strength, high-intensity intervals, yoga, stretch, and recovery. There’s also a meditation chair and blackout shades provided in these rooms.
Amenities include Biofreeze to ease achy muscles, and protein and hydration drinks. Phase two of this room category will also include Atmos air filters to purify the air, while phase three may include a brand partnership related to a better sleep experience.
The ROI of In-Room Fitness
To book one of these new room types, Hilton generally adds $45 to its best available room rate, and that rate depends on floor level, view, and market. Currently, Five Feet to Fitness rooms are available for booking at the Parc 55 San Francisco and Hilton McLean Tysons Corner. Hilton expects to soon add more of these rooms to hotels in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, and San Diego.
Are hotel guests willing to pay a bit more for these rooms? And what about the costs for hotel owners?
Crabbe said that Hilton began testing an in-room fitness concept three years ago at its McLean property and that the “rooms went over exceptionally well.” What Hilton found, however, was that people “wanted more options;” just having yoga equipment or just cardio equipment was too limiting.
“They wanted everything to sit under one big roof and more opportunities to engage in different types of movement,” he said. “That was a big lesson for us.”
Crabbe noted that in doing customer research, Hilton also found that 28 percent of its guests across all segments, not just full-service hotels, said they were interested in pursuing in-room fitness. He said the company also took note of a recent Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research study which showed that 46 percent of guests intend to work out during their hotel stay, but only 22 percent actually wind up using the hotel fitness center.
“That gap, for us, confirmed there was a significant opportunity to enable fitness for our customers so they could stay well on the road,” said Crabbe. He also said the growing popularity of boutique and studio fitness classes, as well as digital fitness experiences, were further proof that a guest room like this could be successful.
For hotel and property owners, Crabbe said they usually see a return on investment for these rooms within a year, while also “driving incremental rate and revenue.” Owners must commit to converting at least three of their guest rooms to the new room category, although Hilton suggests they convert five. The room design is also meant for standard rooms, not larger suites or room categories.
The cost for an owner to build one of these Five Feet to Fitness guest rooms ranges from $9,000 for a Streamline Bay Gym Rax and $10,500 for a Full Bay Gym Rax to $12,000 for an Extended Bay Gym Rax. The difference among the different Gym Rax models relates to size and the ability to do suspension training, and have more pull-up grips.
Hilton hopes to have at least 100 of these rooms available for booking throughout the U.S. by year’s end, and Crabbe said the company is also looking at taking this concept and modifying it for other brands within the Hilton family, including its all-suite, select-service, and extended stay hotels.
The Future of In-Room, On-Demand Hotel Fitness
Wellness, which encompasses fitness, is a big business today, and that’s a fact not lost on Hilton or its peers. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry overall was worth $3.7 trillion in 2015, and wellness tourism accounted for $563 billion.
“The global wellness movement — people who are tuned into health and better living — is larger than it’s ever been,” said Crabbe. “The phenomenon, to me, totally transcends demographics and segments, and the fact that you’re seeing wellness activity across a number of brands and a number of segments is a really positive sign. The hospitality industry is actually catching up and leaning into a trend that has been with us for a long time, and we’re all sensing an opportunity for travelers to feel more looked after and have their wellness routines more enabled on the road.”
In-room fitness equipment has been part of Even Hotels since the brand was being developed, and all of the its guest rooms have an in-room training zone that includes a foam roller, yoga mat, yoga block, core exercise ball, and the Even Hotels Trainer, a mounted fitness wall that includes resistance bands. Guests can also choose from 19 fitness videos and there’s an in-room training guide for the in-room equipment, and all videos/guides are also available for viewing on the Even Hotels YouTube channel.
Jason Moskal, vice president of lifestyle brands for IHG said, “The No. 1 insight we’ve learned from guests when we were developing Even Hotels was that they didn’t have access to equipment or classes that meet their needs when they travel. There’s nothing more disappointing when you head down to the fitness center with a limited amount of time and you find dated machines or lines to use the equipment. Guests really want flexibility and have responded positively to the fact that they now have the ability to choose whether they take a class, strength train, do cardio or yoga in their room or in the Athletic Studio. We provide the options they need to fit their lifestyle and schedule.”
He also noted, “Our female travelers have expressed how refreshing it is that they don’t have to visit a hotel gym to continue their fitness routine. They really enjoy the privacy of working out in their room.
Moskal said Even Hotels doesn’t have plans to install additional in-room fitness features at this time.
In April, Westin debuted its new partnership with boutique cycling company Peloton at 31 of its hotels throughout the U.S. At participating properties, guests book a WestinWORKOUT guest room that includes the Peloton Commercial-Grade bike and do live and/or on-demand Peloton cycling classes from the privacy of their own rooms. The Peloton Commercial-Grade bike is also available for use in some of the hotel’s fitness centers.
Another hospitality company enabling on-demand fitness is luxury alternative accommodations platform onefinestay. On May 1, the company launched a partnership with fitness expert Tracy Anderson enabling onefinestay guests to access three of Anderson’s online video workouts from tracyandeerson.com during their stays. The workouts are designed for at-home use.
“We’re honored to have had Tracy [Anderson] stay with us many times, and know that many of our guests are fans of her method,” said Jason McGrath, vice president, U.S., for onefinestay. “It’s a huge thrill to have her as the face of this new and exclusive fitness amenity for our guests; it’s a truly special layer to the onefinestay service and experience that our guests love.”
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Photo credit: Hilton's new Five Feet to Fitness room design for full-service hotel brands brings the gym into the guest room. Hilton