Why the Hotel Spa is Becoming the New Fitness Center
By Mary Gendron Senior Vice President / Managing Director, Mower | July 24, 2016
Two decades ago, the trend toward fitness centers in hotels went from nice-to-have to must-have. Today, that trend is spa. What is fortunate for owners and operators who are currently sans spa, is to realize that the definition of spa is flexible with broad parameters, transcending the confines of bricks and mortar. This article delves into the trend and reasons behind the demand and the timing for it. It also addresses the philosophy of spa, and provides a selection of options for consideration in retrofitting a spa into an existing operation.
If you've been immersed in the hospitality industry for some time, you will recognize the push-pull dynamic that propels the industry forward. In some instances, progress results from guests following hospitality's lead, adopting new services and amenities that become expected over time. In other instances, guest behaviors spark the trends.
In the late 1970s, when we helped launch Four Seasons Hotels beyond regional recognition in Canada, the notion of a concierge in a luxury hotel, while established in Europe, was new to North America. Four Seasons considered it important in attracting the discerning international traveler. At the direction of its visionary founder, Isadore Sharp, Four Seasons committed to a concierge in each hotel. It was the first luxury brand to do so on this side of the Atlantic.
To introduce the concept and establish it as a brand tenet, we created a lighthearted "field guide" to the North American concierge, using it as a gentle educational tool that addressed everything from how to pronounce the word (koNˈsyerZH) to cataloging the range of requests that a concierge might be asked to fulfill. Today, one would be hard pressed to find anyone needing this orientation. Moreover, guests now expect concierge services when staying in nice places.
In the decade of the '80s, as business travel increased, the separation between one's work and personal life blurred. Those with fitness regimens wanted to keep to them while on the road. Others without previous fitness routines began to adopt them out of necessity to balance the hours spent on planes and meals away from home.
Hotels began installing fitness equipment, then fitness rooms, then full-fledged fitness centers as this nice-to-have amenity evolved into a must-have in the hotel selection criteria of travelers. Today, hotels and resorts of all strata include fitness offerings, with few exceptions.
The Growth of Amenity Spas