Wellness, sustainability essential to boutique hotels
Wellness, sustainability essential to boutique hotels
25 OCTOBER 2016 9:07 AM

Speakers at the Boutique & Lifestyle Leadership Symposium talked next-generation trends in wellness and sustainability that benefit guests and hotels alike. 

LOS ANGELES—Boutique hotels are doing all they can to make authentic experiences a priority, and wellness and sustainability are two of the leading strategies, according to speakers at the Boutique & Lifestyle Leadership Symposium taking place this week.

On two panels, speakers talked about how boutique hotel guests are more sophisticated than ever when it comes to their expectations for wellness options and sustainability efforts at a hotel, and hotels are better positioned to offer more options.

Wellness within reach
Speakers on the “Modern day wellness” panel agreed the term incorporates so much more than just traditional exercise and healthy eating, and has instead become a lifestyle category.

“We define ‘wellness’ as the search for balanced living,” said Alex Glasscock, founder and CEO of The Ranch. “Many of our guests are so busy in their daily lives, they’re mentally stressed as well as physically, with a multitasking lifestyle.”

Glasscock and other panelists said boutique hotels are addressing wellness by offering options for working out and healthy eating, but also for yoga, lighting, air quality and more. They said comprehensive wellness programs aren’t limited only to luxury properties with unlimited space and resources.

Kim Kessler, director of public relations at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, said the hotel barely had any wellness programs seven years ago, but now offers a variety of options, such as nutritious menu items at all F&B outlets, in-room workout videos and more, all within the footprint of an urban hotel.

“We offer yoga on our helipad,” she said. “We’ve incorporated wellness elements throughout the hotel, even though we’re a city hotel.”

For properties that might not have the space and resources to do a lot on-property, panelists advised arming hotel staff with knowledge of wellness-oriented resources in the neighborhood.

“In large, urban U.S. markets, you can’t often afford to build a large gym in a hotel because it means fewer keys” said Josh Wyatt, president of Equinox Hotels. “So meet that solution through service. Have your desk staff ready to suggest at least 20 different boutique fitness and wellness options for guests nearby, like hot yoga or boot camp classes. That way you’re offering your customer a customized solution and making partnerships.”

Kathleen Shea, chief marketing officer of Canyon Ranch, said hotels with small footprints can look into maximizing any space possible for fitness, from in-room offerings to overlooked spots around the hotel.

“Look for any venues you can,” she said. “Rooftops, terraces, any place people can enjoy outdoor space and incorporate fitness.”

Next-generation sustainability
Speakers on the “Eco & Sustainable Hospitality” panel called sustainable efforts part of the overall wellness movement.

Coni Thornburg, GM of Calistoga Ranch, said sustainability, like wellness, is a lifestyle that guests adopt more than ever.

“People are living their lives the way they like to and don’t stop when they’re on vacation,” she said. “People like to hear about how we grow food in our gardens, how we care for the chickens and understand where their food is coming from. We look at it like a full lifestyle—sustainability now is not just linen reuse and LED lights in the hotels.”

David Hertz, founder and president of David Hertz FAIA, agreed that involving guests in sustainability efforts is key not only for education, but for ensuring the programs have impact.

“We used to have a strategy of infiltrate and educate guests, when we didn’t have an informed populace,” he said. “Now we have guests who know more and want more out of sustainability, so we’re reaching out and working with other nonprofits.”

Hertz and Thornburg explained how hotels have partnered with hospitality-focused, third-party green organizations to further sustainability efforts in ways that also are visible to guests.

“The future of sustainability in hotels is involving the guests—getting guests excited about taking these measures in their own lives,” Thornburg said. “We’re beyond linens now, and we’re sharing nutrition, care of animals, care of food and gardens as ways to show sustainability.”

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