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The hotel gym is getting a makeover

Hotels worldwide are starting to respond to the needs of health conscious guests and South Africa is not far behind. 

20 July 2016
3 minute read

man lifting weights

Going away on business trips doesn’t mean you have to give up your spinning and Pilates classes anymore. Hotels all over the world are starting to cater for the specific fitness needs of their customers, making room for fitness classes instead of the traditional gym. We caught up with the Group Marketing Manager of Protea Hotels and African Pride Hotels, Nicholas Barenblatt, to find out more about this trend.

1Life: Can you tell us a bit more about the current global fitness craze of offering full yoga, Pilates and other classes as opposed to just using gym traditional equipment?

Nicholas Barenblatt: The global trend that is moving hotel guests away from using the traditional hotel gym is most prevalent in the United States of America. A number of hotel companies there have been implementing various other fitness options such as yoga and pilates classes, often in very scenic spots, such as on rooftops many storeys above the ground, or at waterfront level where the hotel is at the coast. In addition, there are hotels that fit out some rooms with their own fitness wall (equipment attached to a wall in the room) and provide in-room fridges stocked with healthy food items. These are largely found in brands catering to the upper levels of the market since research reflects that wealthier guests consider healthy options when selecting a hotel. Although this is less marked in South Africa, it’s definitely still growing.

1Life: Is there a big demand for these kind of facilities in South African hotels?

Nicholas Barenblatt: Demand is more limited in South Africa than in the USA but it is a growing trend. The millennial market – those aged from 18 to about 34 – are definitely more health conscious than their parents, and so we expect the demand to increase as more of this generation start using hotels. No doubt the need for us to provide different sorts of exercise options at our hotels will increase in the next decade, and we will respond accordingly.

Protea Hotels has already made amendments to our conference food options to provide for requests for healthier food. We are able to offer some dishes to suit the Banting diet, and we offer more salads and lighter food items to meet the requests for healthier food – not just the typical meat, potatoes and rice options that are usually associated with hotel conference food.

1Life: What has the Protea Hotels and African Pride Group done regarding this so far?

Nicholas Barenblatt: We have some hotels where fitness options beyond the traditional hotel gym have been implemented. In Magaliesburg, for instance, our mountain bike centre called the Cog & Sprocket at the African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa is very popular. Hiking is also very popular at the Protea Hotel Hunters Rest in Rustenburg. The African Pride Arabella Hotel & Spa also offers dedicated routes in the nearby proximity to the estate which are accessible directly from the hotel grounds, and offer a treat for running enthusiasts.

So the next time you book, both internationally and locally, make sure to ask about what facilities are on offer.

Why it’s important to exercise while you’re travelling for work

Here are a few things to consider when you take your next business trip:

  • Snacking unnecessarily on sweets and whatever treats you usually get at meetings and conferences, is not always good. Especially because they have the opposite desired effect, leaving you drained and tired throughout. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated and if you must snack, eat nuts and fruit.
  • Extended periods of inactivity at conference or while travelling can leave you feeling stiff and sometimes exhausted. It’s important to try not to slack on your exercise regime, because it’s what will keep you focussed.
  • Keep your body moving. Just because you’re sitting around a table doesn’t mean your body can’t be active Stretch your feet out in front of you, parallel to the floor, to work your legs and abs. During the intervals, get up and walk around to get the circulation going. Or why not take a walk around the hotel grounds during the lunch break?

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