These little town pounds are melting away / it’s up to you, New York, New York!
Travelling has long been associated with feats of excess, from daily happy hours to overflowing breakfast buffets and staying up late on a school night. Some frequent flyers are growing tired of returning home more sluggish than before they left and with an extra five pounds on the bathroom scale. In response, hotels are learning how to become refuges for recharging and unplugging while staying healthy, fit and productive on the road.
Inspired by destination spas and yoga retreats, a growing number of hotels cater to the physical, emotional and even spiritual well-being of their guests – especially the road warrior business traveller types, who feel they can accomplish more if they stay healthy and maintain their wellness rituals away from home. Vanishing are the days of the sterile hotel workout room with a lonely treadmill: More sophisticated health and fitness options are no longer just “nice to have” amenities, but are fast becoming the hallmarks of hospitality brands everywhere. See Europe’s Aspria health clubs, which recently opened four urban wellness hotels (in Berlin, Brussels, Hanover, Hamburg), or Asia’s Six Senses luxury hotel brand, which developed a wellness program in conjunction with television’s (Dr.) Mehmet Oz.
In North America it’s the city that never sleeps where travellers have the most options for hotels that will help them get a proper rest (after a sweaty workout and organic meal, of course). Here are seven of the latest, forthcoming, and most notable wellness-focused hotels in New York.
The InterContinental Hotel Group launched its 150-room flagship Even Hotel at the heart of Times Square in late 2015, promising travellers that they “won’t have to compromise their wellness routine.” Two more locations are planned for this year, in Midtown East and Brooklyn. The modern, mid-price rooms feature eucalyptus fibre linens (for cool sleeping), ergonomic and movable work spaces (including stand-up desks), LED colour mood lighting, rainfall showers, EO brand toiletries (the name stands for “essential oils”), filtered drinking water and motivational phrases on the walls [Did they really have to? — Ed.].
Most guestrooms also feature in-room “training zones” with yoga mats and blocks, foam rollers, a core exercise ball and a mounted fitness wall with resistance bands and a pull-up bar. If you don’t know where to begin, you can always consult the in-room training guide and 19 specially developed exercise programs on video. Or take your workout to the 1,200-square-foot fitness studio, which also offers spin and yoga classes. In the morning, a “chief wellness officer” leads guests on runs along the Hudson River.
Hungry? In addition to a juice and smoothie bar, the Cork and Kale market on site serves up super healthy meals (including low-sugar, gluten-free, and paleo options), and even boozy cocktails made with organic, natural and so-called superfood ingredients. Afterwards, chill out or catch up on emails in the “wellness den,” with an old-school reading corner and table games. Or bone up on the latest healthy travel tips and peruse local hotspots on the hotel’s comprehensive wellness travel site.
A room in Even Hotel Manhattan; note exercise ball
The Standard Hotel’s East Village location is experimenting with the future of detox. For spring 2016, the hotel is hosting a pop-up spa aptly named Future Spa: Drip, Chill, and Shine which offers guests three of the most “innovative” therapies in wellness: intravenous nutrient therapy, cryotherapy, and infrared treatments. It’s said there’s no cure from the common cold, but this mix of newfangled therapies promises to help you recover from almost anything, including an over-indulgent Sex and the City-style night out. [Ahem.Caveat emptor. — Ed.]
Trump International / Trump Soho
While the name “Trump” these days may be far from synonymous with anything natural or good for you, Trump Hotels offer “Trump Wellness” programs, which have names like “Forever Young” and “Stress Free.” At the two Trump properties in New York, guests can try a variety of healthy on-loan goodies delivered to your doorstep, including light fitness equipment, Under Armour workout wear and sneakers, and an iPod packed with playlists. A special room service menu offers organic, vegan and gluten-free dishes or post-workout snacks summoned to your room in 15 minutes or less.
The James New York
The Jimmy’s gorgeous Soho rooftop not only offers spectacular panoramic views of downtown Manhattan, but also plays host to a popular series of weekly yoga sessions by Serene studio. This summer, ascend to the roof deck for Chaise-Fitness (Pilates chair) workouts, which fuse Pilates with resistance band training. The hotel’s Urban Athlete program also invites guests to borrow a classic European-style bike for exploring the city streets or join a four-mile (6.4-kilometre) running tour spanning Manhattan’s cultural and historic landmarks. And trainer-to-the-stars Oscar Smith is on-hand for personal training sessions.
The James is also known for hosting fun seasonal events, such as a Tour-de-France multimedia simulation with guests spinning Proform stationary bikes in the Urban Garden.
Can’t go wrong with good old water and fruit
The Park Hyatt Hotel
The hotel recently completed the development of a shiny new gym fully stocked with cardio equipment and weights. The main attraction, however: the sweeping views of Central Park from the 25th floor that overlook Central Park. The three-storey atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows is likely to inspire you to swim a few laps or unwind in the hot tub, and call it a wrap in the eucalyptus steam room.
Led by sleep researcher Rebecca Robbins, Manhattan’s Benjamin hotel is officially sleep-obsessed – witness its standout “rest and renew” program. In addition to personal sleep consultations with Robbins herself, a team of “sleep concierges” is trained to deliver sleep-promoting techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation. The Benjamin also offers an extensive menu of pillows based on your preference for sleeping on your side, back or stomach. You can also try a “power nap” program, featuring customized aromatherapy treatments. Or indulge in sleep inducing “bedtime bites” concocted by the Food Network’s Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Finally, instead of a wake-up call, you can book a “work down call” reminding you to get off your laptop and start counting sheep.
Equinox, the upscale fitness club giant (with premium membership fees to match and nearly 80 clubs across the U.S., Toronto, and London) is planning to launch its own brand of luxury health and fitness-focused hotels. The first property will open in New York’s under-redevelopment Hudson Yards district in 2019. Equinox’s long-term plan is to morph beyond merely running gyms and become a full-service wellness-lifestyle company. The Equinox hotels will target the same breed of guest as its high-rolling and motivated gym members, namely travellers (especially business) who are willing to pay for high-end fitness facilities while on the road. Equinox is reportedly shooting for some of New York’s highest room rates.
Toronto-based design firm Yabu Pushelberg will conceive the high-end interiors, including indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa with a new take on recovery and regeneration, and the largest Equinox gym to date at a spacious 60,000 square feet. The hotel restaurant will offer treats that straddle the line between indulgent and wholesome: Think chocolate cake made with organic and locally sourced ingredients.