Fairmont The Palm offers full moon beach yoga classes. Fairmont The Palm offers full moon beach yoga classes.

Hotels have been making major changes to their gyms in the last five years. From Bulgari Hotel London’s new natural movement classes to the Ritz Paris’ 30-day heath programme, Un Mois Rien Que Pour Moi, to the Westin launching in-room spin classes in its US hotels, operators are increasingly taking their fitness offerings more seriously.

Hotel gyms these days are state-of-the-art, spacious rooms that often span an entire floor — a stark change from the hotel gyms of old that were once crammed into dingy, basement spaces. Some guests even choose their hotels when travelling, according to the various fitness options they offer, revealed a recent poll. According to Quartz, more than 780 hotel guests staying at 33 properties run by major hotel companies were asked about various hotel amenities before and after their stay, including on-site fitness centres. Nearly half of the respondents — 46% — said they planned to use the gym at some point during their stay, however, less than one-quarter — 22% — actually used the facilities. The findings mirror the Hotelier Middle East poll that found that 24% of respondents consider hotel gyms an important factor when booking a stay.

Agreeing, Fairmont the Palm director of marketing and communications Katerina Dixon said that hotel fitness has significantly evolved in the region. “At Fairmont, recreation, wellness and fitness activities are a huge element for our customers and to our brand,” Dixon said. “We have a strong wellness and lifestyle approach and therefore positively encourage such activities throughout the duration of guest stays.”

The MENA region is seeing a massive growth in the wellbeing sector, and to capitalise on the growth, Fairmont The Palm has unveiled a comprehensive active wellness programme in the UAE,  focusing around five key pillars to support the ‘Be. Your. Best.’ concept. “The number of visitors and guests who value these facilities has significantly grown over the last few years, and we have tailored our facilities to grow in line with the increase of demand and interest from guests,” Dixon noted.

Fairmont isn’t the only hotel to make changes to its fitness space. Le Méridien, for example, recently announced plans to roll out new fitness centre designs across more than 100 branded properties by the end of 2017.

“Hotel fitness must reflect the fitness industry. On the physical side this means emphasising the importance of sleep (recovery), nutrition (fuel) and exercise, in that order. This requires a holistic approach biased towards health rather than fitness and requires a synergy between the core business of hospitality and ‘the gym’,” commented David Labouchere, managing partner of OptimalFitness at Natural Elements, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel + Conference Centre.

Le Méridien Dubai Hotel’s OptimalFitness at Natural Elements is tailored around the belief that guests want less traditional fitness offerings like pure cardio and strength, and more functional workouts that emphasise balance, power and endurance.

“We have responded to the needs of our guests by not just keeping abreast of the health and fitness industry best practices, but by partnering with the very best suppliers to deliver service above and beyond expectation.

“As our guests become increasingly health conscious, our fitness facilities can no longer be an afterthought,” Labourchere added.

Now, most hotels have wellness as an integral part of their hospitality package. Taj Dubai general manager Ranjit Phillipose disclosed during an interview with Hotelier Middle East at the 2017 Arabian Travel Market that in every Taj hotel, “we will feature yoga as a wellness offering, either during sunrise or sunset, which is complimentary”.

Everyone Hotelier Middle East spoke to commented on fitness facilities needing to be at the forefront of hotel planning, with activities tailored to guests. This is in line with the new kind of traveller who wants to be able to continue their fitness routine while travelling. Guests now expect to find even more exciting facilities and equipment than they may be used to at home. From yoga to crossfit, hotel fitness offerings are diversifying with the needs of their customers.Fairmont has a 360-degree appr

oach at the resort to fitness and wellness. Its offerings include fitness innovations such as Pavigym, (an interactive LED flooring system allowing guests to build a bespoke, individual workout), AquaSpin — bikes submerged under water — and a resident yoga instructor for group or individual classes. The property also runs ‘Fairmont Fit, a global Fairmont programme’ which provides guests with Reebok active wear in their rooms, personalised workouts and mapped runs within the local area, as well as The Chef’s Palette by Gaggenau; an immersive, interactive cooking experience for diners seeking to consciously create dishes with wellness in mind.

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