Hotels are bringing the gym to guests’ rooms

August 7, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

During the pandemic, millions of people ditched their gym and got comfy with at-home workouts. Future—a training app that pairs users with professional trainers and bases its technology on the science of accountability—saw spikes to its memberships as exercise regimens remained in people’s living rooms. Digital, community-driven equipment—like Peloton, Mirror, and Hydrow—also effortlessly helped transition from in-person to isolated workouts.

But for travelers, part of vacation is relaxing, tapping into your best self, and reconnecting mind and body. Some do this by way of spa days, and others wake up early to enjoy a run on a treadmill. But with both of those enclosed areas being risky transmission spots because of close contact, regulated circulation, and heavy breathing, many hotels across the country temporarily shuttered their gyms and expanded those amenities outside the box. Now, “wellness suites” allow guests to sweat without being in a public space.

The Wellness Suite at North Hollywood’s The Garland Hotel.
Courtesy of The Garland Hotel

Eden Roc Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic conceived its “Endless Wellbeing” program in which suites are customized by a guest’s goals. A wellness concierge curates in-room aromatherapy and fitness kits—ab wheel, yoga mat and ball, resistance bands, body weights, and muscle relaxation balls—paired with a tailored booklet of recommended workouts. Other hotels are outfitting their suites with tech.

Peloton—which experienced a banner year in 2020—is in hundreds of hotels with bikes in fitness centers. (You can actually peruse the list if a Peloton is a nonnegotiable in your hotel search.) Yet some properties, like the newly opened The Ryder Hotel in Charleston, S.C., don’t have an on-site gym or spa, so Peloton bikes are delivered to rooms upon request. Similarly, in The Peloton Suite at Boston’s The Envoy Hotel, Autograph Collection, guests who need to stay on Peloton’s coveted leaderboards are met in their room while overlooking the harbor.

North Hollywood’s The Garland stocked some of its suites with not only a Peloton bike but also Bowflex adjustable weights, and an interactive Mirror system that casts workouts onto a screen as if you’re face-to-face with a trainer. So guests can tone, strengthen, and even box next to their king bed. “The Wellness Suites have been extremely popular lately since travelers have been opting for more in-room, private experiences,” says Scott Mills, the hotel’s general manager. Based on availability, the Wellness Suite is typically around $40 more per night with a minibar full of health-oriented provisions such as Off the Farm protein bars, almonds, and cold-pressed juices.

For The Kimpton Sawyer, guests can also use a Mirror and Peloton in one of its new Sweat Suites and add pampering amenities for $125 that include a spa amenity kit (honey face mask, locally made lavender bath bomb, Champagne bubble gummies), a $25 gift card and workout towel from nearby Bueno Sports, and a branded Hydroflask.

The Ryder’s in-room Peloton setup.
Courtesy of The Ryder Hotel

Like Peloton, Hydrow—a rowing machine with digitally led workouts—has partnerships with boutique and luxury hotels across the U.S. The past year, demand remained steady, but it’s growing as more hotel gyms reopen. To further make its way into hospitality, the company piloted in-suite Hydrow programs in four test locations, including The Whitney Hotel, a 65-room boutique property in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. From April to June 2020, the property closed its fitness studio, and when the space reopened, usage was reservation-only for guests and their direct party, meaning those staying in their room with them. In addition, after each use, the hotel team sanitized the studio to ensure it was ready for the next guest. These complex protocols led them to expand to on-demand, in-room Hydrow machines, which are a natural extension of the city. 

“Rowing is also a very quintessential New England sport. On any given day, you can look out and see college rowing teams just across the way on the Charles River,” says Kimberley Lowthers, director of sales and marketing. “The Hydrow also has a leaderboard, similar to that of the Peloton, that allows for friendly competition.” As popularity for such features arise, the hotel plans to add fitness boxes with resistance bands, yoga mats, and other gear in case some don’t prefer rowing.

Domestic travel and the spread of COVID-19’s Delta variant are both increasing, and luxury hotels continue seeking the safest ways to bring health amenities to as many guests as possible. And now, fitness buffs don’t need to leave their routines (and leaderboards) even after leaving their home.

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