For many vacationers, lounging by a hotel pool — without ever stepping into it, much less swimming in it — qualifies as an activity in itself.
But such idleness isn’t as entrenched as it once was. No longer considered a chore that people have to check off their daily to-do lists, exercise is increasingly a must for many, not just from a fortifying health and wellness standpoint but also as a sure-fire way to connect with friends and a community of like-minded people.
Unlike in years past when travelers were content to get their heart rates going in a nondescript, compact fitness room with a treadmill or two and some free weights, now they are seeking hotels that offer brand-name equipment and in some instances multiple types of fitness classes. Instead of hooking up guests with day passes to area health clubs, some properties are trying to spare them any further travel time by ramping up on-site services. In fact, one-third of business travelers said they are influenced by sports possibilities when choosing a hotel, according to a survey released by Accor and Dan DNA. And more than a quarter of them are willing to pay a little more for a hotel with a gym.
Hotels are clearly paying attention. For example, guests at the International Hotel Group’s Even Hotels will find a yoga mat, block, on-demand fitness programming and a binder with exercises in their rooms, as well as exercise balls in some instances. There are also fitness rooms for cardio and weight-training options.
Some can’t even wait to get to their hotels to exercise and while away their airport layovers by working out on-site. The Ambassador Transit Lounge in Singapore’s Changi Airport, the G-Force Health Club at the Dubai International Airport, The Fairmont Hotel Health Club at the Vancouver International Airport and the Hilton Heath Club at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago offer fitness enthusiasts daily or hourly passes.
The fact that the Equinox Hotel New York was one of only two U.S. properties to land on the World’s 50 Best Hotels signals how more fitness-minded travelers aren’t abandoning their routines on the road. The inaugural list was comprised by the World’s 50 Best Hotels Academy, a group of 580 international well-traveled authorities in the hotel and travel industry. Guests at the Hudson Yards hotel pretty much have no reason not to exercise, given the 60,000-square-foot on-site Equinox Club. Illustrating people’s zeal, Equinox Hotels chief executive officer Chris Norton said that club has 5,000 members and 1,500 of them use it on any given day for an average of two-and-a-half hours. While 8 to 12 percent of guests at the typical luxury hotel use the on-site gym, nearly 40 percent of guests at the Equinox Hotel use its facility, Norton said.
Emphasizing how wellness can be a form of luxury and how Equinox Hotel offers it in a refined way, Norton said the New York property often holds its own compared to such competitors as the NoMad Hotel, the Langham, Crosby Hotel, the Greenwich Hotel, Mandarin, Four Seasons, the Peninsula and the Rosewood, he said. Planning to open 30 Equinox hotels in 10 years, Norton says that 15 are in the pipeline, including six that are signed via management agreements or letters of intent for resort and urban locations.
Emphasizing the brand’s comprehensive approach, Norton says the idea that wellness consists of retreating somewhere for a five-day weight-loss stay that is restful is an old-fashioned one.
“Our definition of wellness and well-being is not a once every six months retreat, it’s a daily routine. Everything you do on a daily basis becomes really important in your life,” he says. “Our hotel is kind of 24-7 well-being. It includes not only fitness but movement, regen, recovery, sleep, spa and a whole sense of community and belonging in an environment that you feel comfortable in. For the generation that wants to fit it all in, we provide that under one roof.”
Another established name in the fitness sector, Tracy Anderson, is partnering with The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., for a second season. The fitness specialist, who is popular with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, will be offering the latest innovations of the Tracy Anderson Method. Hotel guests can partake in 90-minute group classes led by Anderson’s team at the property. Separately, Anderson is working with the Pendry Hotel by having her trainers serve up her hour-long MyMode class at the chain’s hotels in Washington, D.C., and Newport Beach, Calif., among other locations.
A newcomer to the increasingly competitive field of sports-oriented travel is Siro, which pitches itself as an immersive destination that is built on the biohacking pillars of fitness, nutrition, sleep, recovery and mindfulness. The first hotel — the 132-room Siro One Za’abeel — is slated to start welcoming guests in Dubai in February. The athletically inclined will have a nearly 11,000-square-foot Fitness Lab to get their heart rates up. Spanning an entire floor, the space will offer group classes, including ones in studios for spinning, yoga and Pilates. There will also be a tranquil Zen Room for recalibrating. In fact, recovery is such a priority that a floor is being designated for that with recovery rooms, cold plunge options, hydrojet services, cryptotherapy and an infrared light chamber.
Siro representatives declined to reveal the investment. Parent company Kerzner International has designed the standard guest rooms for the Dubai location and LW Design Consultants has handled the the hotel’s other areas.
Next up will be Siro Boka Place in Montenegro that is slated for next year, and the company is on the lookout for other relevant destinations. Siro was created in direct response to consumers’ interest in self care and prioritizing fitness and recovery, which have accelerated in the past decade, a company spokesperson says.
“We are creating a space that brings together a community of like-minded individuals willing to exchange, learn and improve their lifestyle,” the spokesperson says.
At Amanyara’s Turks & Caicos resort, visitors can crank up their athletic skills via its “Legends” program, which offers a series of clinics with professionals. Former tennis star Maria Sharapova launched the initiative in 2021, and about 15 standout athletes have followed her lead in the time since. More recently, in November, another former tennis pro, Sam Querrey, who now competes as a pro pickleball player, hosted clinics. Amanyara should have no shortage of takers given that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. with 36.5 million participants as of last year.
The Los Angeles Chargers’ Asante Samuel and former Paris Saint-Germain player Blaise Matuidi are a few others who have held clinics at the property, which rests on the western shore of Providenciales. The hourlong clinics have eight to 10 participants and cost $375 for adults and $275 for children.
Through the end of this year, the Amanayara is offering all sorts of heart rate-boosting activities. Overnighters — adults and children — will be able to compete in pickleball tournaments while two of the more unexpected options are Aqua Barre Bodywork and Ai-Chi (Aqua Tai Chi.) More restorative options can be found in the Thai Partner Stretch class, which incorporates Thai massage, and Makko Ho, which involves movements based on traditional Chinese medicine principles.
Meanwhile, Hilton is helping guests keep pedaling. Last fall Peloton unveiled a partnership with Hilton to roll out its stationary bicycles in the hospitality conglomerate’s hotels, including its Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites and Doubletree ones. The deal gives Hilton Honors members access to a 90-day free trial of the Peloton app.
Get ready to spin.