6 hotel wellness upgrades that won't break the bank

The Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson focuses on health and wellness. Photo credit: Miraval

Over the past decade, wellness—and our definition of it—has changed tremendously. There was once a time when most travelers thought of wellness as "spa" or "fitness,” prompting hotels to amp up those amenities.

Today, all of that has changed. Wellness is a $3.7-trillion industry, with tentacles stretching into fitness, food, medicine, residential, beauty, antiaging, tourism and more. And it isn’t as simple as “spa” or “fitness.” For some, wellness is still a gym or spa experience. For others, it can be indulging in a grass-fed beef burger with maple-cured bacon on a locally made brioche bun.

This makes it easy for hoteliers to miss the mark when it comes to incorporating wellness into a hotel’s programming.

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In hospitality, there are countless ideas for innovations that tap into the wellness movement. On one extreme is wellness tourism, which includes healthy food, exercise, spa treatments and opportunities to experience or expand spiritually and creatively.


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Most Americans are vacation-deprived and overworked. Taking time off has become more important than ever, but guests want to head home feeling refreshed in both mind and body. Wellness tourism delivers with a vacation and a full mind-body experience that helps guests unwind, and is the specialty of iconic destination resorts such as Canyon Ranch, Hyatt Hotels Corporation's Miraval or Rancho La Puerta.  

Short-Term, Cost-Effective Wellness Amenities

While designing spas, restoration spaces or amazing gyms is an option, they’re expensive. They’re good long-term goals but in the near term, there are a lot of great, low-cost wellness amenities that can make a big impact on the guest experience, raise eyebrows and create the perfect Instagram-able moments.

  1. Give New Life to Grab-and-Go. Change the way you think about grab-and-go and replace a few soda variations with pre-workout energy drinks and post-workout protein shakes. Consider locally sourced products such as low-sugar sweet and savory energizing treats—granola bars, pea crisps, dried fruit mixes. Don’t forget to promote these options with marketing that highlights your intention behind offering locally sourced products, positioning it as a clear intention and not random.
  1. Freshen Up the Morning. If your hotel offers a paid breakfast buffet, feature several fresh fruits and veggies and set up a “make your own smoothie bar” with low-sugar fruits, veggies and vitamin-rich mix-ins. Consider investing in a single, high-quality blender (such as a Vitamix or Ninja) and offer healthier choices such as avocado and antioxidant-rich frozen dark berries, leafy greens, dates and almonds. 
  1. Highlight Running and Walking at Check-in. A lot of hotels say they offer jogging maps, but few actually do and even fewer get it right. It’s bitter cold for much of the country right now, so running outside may not be an option. What to do? Feature running and walking by highlighting options both outside and inside the hotel. Change the check-in process to proactively highlight gym and cardio options available. Talk up the on-premises options in conjunction with a running and walking map. Even though many guests won’t venture outside, you’ve gone out of your way to make the offer and given viable alternatives to overcome the cold.
  1. Create a Calm and Quiet Space. Make a few simple property modifications that support mindfulness. Create a relaxation zone near the lobby and incorporate features such as plants, dim lighting and comfortable seating. Use signage to highlight the space as a relaxing, quiet area where guests can escape the noise of the lobby or hotel bar. Curate and highlight lists of apps with calming music, white noise, simple meditation and sleep stories (all at zero cost to you and guests). As a bonus, offer VIP guests a small aromatherapy or relaxation kit. Make sure this space stands out as an intentional offering that you’ve designed to make the experience better for your guests. 
  1. Breathe In! Change the guestroom air filters on schedule and regularly, and highlight you’ve done this while also offering a reminder to guests that windows open (if they do). Use creative copy that encourages guests to “breathe in” and take advantage of the fresh air.  
  1. Forge Local Fitness Partnerships. Identify two or three local fitness partners where you can refer guests (chose those that offer a variety of innovative group classes). Create an experience that makes it easy for guests to quickly assimilate so it doesn’t feel like a chore to get active. Include marketing materials from the partner in your gym to reinforce that your hotel is thoughtful when it comes to fitness options for guests. Create a simple piece such as “5 tips from our local fitness partner XYZ” that reference opportunities to join a class or get a day pass.

This list is just the beginning. There are countless small-scale options to consider, from fitness and beverages, to servingware and products used, sensory experiences and music. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider working with a company that specializes in designing wellness experiences that will resonate with guests. Whether you are a small boutique or a big hotel, you don’t have to spend a fortune to capitalize on wellness. 

Adam Glickman is the principal of Parallax Hospitality. With more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, he has a passion for creating premium, distinctive and wellness-forward brand concepts and helping non-hospitality companies navigate the complexities of the hotel industry to form partnerships and grow.