A New Health and Wellness Approach for Hotels

By Bob Caputo Founder, Bob Caputo Living Well | August 06, 2017

I have three words for hotel executives, which may as well be the title of their collective mission: Health and Wellness. Which is to say, the new approach to hospitality – the experience every vacationer deserves to enjoy, and every business traveler has a right to receive – is a healthy atmosphere, a place that exudes the virtues of fitness and nutrition; be it an urban property or a resort location, a boutique destination or a five-star hacienda amidst lush acreage and the soft winds of a turquoise sea; be it a high-end spot or a workaday building, suitable for conferences or company meetings, where a health and wellness expert can consult with a hotel executive – or speak directly to guests – about how to achieve these goals.

Please note: This undertaking goes far beyond the status quo, where a hotel may have a gym – I use that word loosely, as many such places house nothing more than an stationary bike and some barbells – or a breakfast buffet in which chafing dishes hold, respectively, scrambled egg whites and scattered slices of cantaloupe, strawberries, bananas and honey dew melon.

That is not a display of health and wellness. Nor is it a way for hoteliers to distinguish themselves from the competition because, the more we conflate quality with decadence, which may as well be a synonym (within the hospitality industry) for gluttony, the more we assume that a holiday from work will become a regrettable respite from nutrition – what with the sight of pastries, cakes, pies, rolls and loaves of bread – the worse guests will feel, physically and psychologically, and the less likely they will return for another visit. Recognize, too, that I do not suggest hotels should do away with these things.

I believe hotels have a responsibility to inform guests – in a dynamic and intelligent manner – what health and wellness should be; that it should not be – indeed, it must never be – obligatory, like taking a spoonful of medicine or doing something with a sense of resignation; that the perception people have should not be – and again, it must never become – a negative one, as if health and wellness are lifeless rather than lively.

It is a hotelier’s duty to show the truth of this story by having someone tell this tale with an emphasis on enlightenment and excitement. In other words, health and wellness can be fun – it is very fun for me – provided guests learn they have options. Explaining those options, and doing so with eloquence and effectiveness, is critical to transforming this category into something people want to do.

This investment is also more an issue of discipline than dollars, meaning, by having a health and wellness expert consult with a hotel executive – by having that professional customize an exercise and nutrition plan, one that highlights an active and robust lifestyle – a hotel can create a personality that attracts new and repeat business.

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Coming up in May 2018...

Eco-Friendly Practices: The Greening of Your Bottom Line

There are strong moral and ethical reasons why a hotel should incorporate eco-friendly practices into their business but it is also becoming abundantly clear that “going green” can dramatically improve a hotel's bottom line. When energy-saving measures are introduced - fluorescent bulbs, ceiling fans, linen cards, lights out cards, motion sensors for all public spaces, and energy management systems - energy bills are substantially reduced. When water-saving equipment is introduced - low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only on request in restaurants - water bills are also considerably reduced. Waste hauling is another major expense which can be lowered through recycling efforts and by avoiding wastefully-packaged products. Vendors can be asked to deliver products in minimal wrapping, and to deliver products one day, and pick up the packaging materials the next day - generating substantial savings. In addition, renewable sources of energy (solar, geothermal, wind, etc.) have substantially improved the economics of using alternative energies at the property level. There are other compelling reasons to initiate sustainability practices in their operation. Being green means guests and staff are healthier, which can lead to an increase in staff retention, as well as increased business from health conscious guests. Also, sooner or later, all properties will be sold, and green hotels will command a higher price due to its energy efficiencies. Finally, some hotels qualify for tax credits, subsidies and rebates from local, regional and federal governments for the eco-friendly investments they've made in their hotels. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some hotels are integrating sustainable practices into their operations and how their hotels are benefiting from them.