For the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Denham, UK, wellness amenities are not just part of its offerings. Instead, wellness will soon be a whole new hotel brand for the company.
By early 2014, IHG will open its first EVEN Hotel, which will focus on offering healthy food options, a pleasant and efficient working environment, relaxing and healthy rest options, and quality workout facilities.
"We've done industry firsts before and have the expertise to launch a new brand, which is why we are confident in the EVEN brand," says Adam Glickman, director of EVEN hotels and guest well-being programs. As an example, he points to IHG’s Hotel Indigo as the industry's first branded boutique hotel experience.
The first EVEN Hotel property location to open has not been announced yet, but a location in the heart of midtown Manhattan in New York City will open in 2015. The IHG-managed hotel, with ownership group CWC Inc., is a new build that will feature 23 guest room floors and 230 guest rooms, dedicated meeting areas, and indoor and outdoor exercise and eating spaces, all in 87,000 square feet.
The decision to launch the EVEN brand came after IHG spent 18 months analyzing emerging trends, conducting quantitative and qualitative studies, and talking to more than 4,000 customers, Glickman says. Based on this research, IHG found that more than 80 percent of the target guests for the EVEN Hotels brand indicated it was extremely or very important to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
"Guests—both leisure and business travelers—are frustrated from staying in hotels that do not meet their entire lifestyle and wellness needs," Glickman says.
Seventeen million wellness-minded travelers have said they find it hard to stay active and eat right, and that they "fall off the wagon" when traveling, Glickman says. They want healthier and balanced options around four priority areas: eating, working, resting and exercising.
The hotel's menus will focus on natural, fresh and energizing meals. Guest rooms will include high-speed Wi-Fi and multimedia ports. Guest rooms also will offer hypoallergenic linens, powerful showerheads, natural lighting, LED dimmers and antibacterial wipes. Guests will be able to use in-room workout options or get fitness advice or instruction, but the hotel also will have a gym with group exercise activities in addition to equipment.
"The gym is front and center in the hotel so guests feel comfortable and connected but still offers privacy from others in the lobby that guests expect," Glickman says.
Other wellness offerings will include a quick and easy service to wash their gym clothes each night and a wellness wall for team member-driven fitness recommendations and tips and personalized guest service to offer advice on fitness options.
IHG will own or manage the first several EVEN Hotels but will eventually look to relationships with existing owners to accelerate growth through a franchise model after a Franchise Disclosure Document is completed. The company says that the fitness centers are a key component of its brand and will be fully part of the entire property and brand experience.
"We are so confident in the EVEN brand that we are committing a capital investment of up to $150 million over the next three years in order to deliver growth and profitability for EVEN Hotels," Richard Solomons, chief executive officer of IHG, said in a press release upon announcement of the new brand.
The company says it expects to sign contracts for 100 EVEN Hotels within the next five years and will focus on locations in New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.
"With EVEN Hotels, we're not creating a new hotel segment but rather staking our claim on the wellness space within the mainstream lifestyle category and enabling wellness in travel," Glickman says.