What Senior Living Can Learn About Wellness from Leading Hotel Brands

Senior living providers embracing the world’s wellness revolution should look to hospitality.

That’s because big-name hotel brands — including Hyatt, Hilton, Westin and Marriott — are unleashing creative offerings that are changing the face of wellness.

Most of these leaders didn’t have to stretch their core competencies or risk diluting their ability to deliver a great hotel experience.

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Instead, they created strategic partnerships with leaders in other industries — fitness, yoga, spas, dining — to deliver to their guests yet another personalized luxury experience. In some cases, they are even giving guests to the opportunity to have a hand in the creation of the offering itself.

“An increasing desire amongst our customers is a more holistic and perhaps a more in-depth approach to wellness,” Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian told Skift.com in 2017. “Wellness extends across a number of different areas, so it could be nutrition, it could be fitness, or it might be spa-related. I would say, overall, we’re very much focused on making sure that we can help people achieve what they want to when they’re traveling […].”

Today’s leading hotels and resorts are finding new ways to create and deliver person-centered wellness offerings. And by embracing strategic partnerships, senior living providers can bring that same level of personalized wellness to residents.

A look into the hospitality industry offers valuable lessons to learn about wellness delivery. Here are three of our favorites.

Strategic partnerships and acquisitions

From the U.S. to Canada, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, hotel brands worldwide are teaming up with other wellness industries to deliver the best to their guests. In 2015, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group partnered with the Mayo Clinic for its first in a series of wellness and healthy living initiatives.

The hotel developed the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Programme at its location in Bodrum, Turkey, and in 2017 hosted the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living at MO in Washington, D.C. Both programs offer multi-day packages focused on personalized health assessments, exercise and fitness classes, education sessions and healthy eating, with guests receiving a personalized wellness plan.

In 2014 and 2015, the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto announced two wellness partnerships: one with Lululemon to bring hotel guests an in-room yoga training video, with mats provided, and another with iRun magazine that built personalized, scenic running routes throughout Toronto based on the guest’s skill and comfort level as runners.

And in 2016, Park Hyatt added two new wellness partnerships. Park Hyatt New York teamed up with New York City meditation studio MNDFL to bring a “meditation in residence” program to hotel guests. Park Hyatt also partnered with Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York, to bring his “Be Well” wellness program to the Park Hyatt hotels in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C.

The Hyatt brand has also gone beyond partnerships. In 2017, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts acquired two wellness brands: Exhale, a boutique fitness classes and spa services company with 25 locations throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean, and Miraval Group, a luxury spa with its flagship location in Tucson, Arizona.

Hoplamazian calls these efforts expansion into “adjacent spaces” — areas that extend Hyatt’s brand and are core to the company’s global growth strategy.

“We recognize the business opportunity within the $420 billion wellness tourism category and understand the rising demand for wellness offerings among our targeted, high-end travelers,” Hoplamazian said in a statement in 2017.

Why this matters for senior living: Along with touching on multiple dimensions of wellness, these partnerships let hotels meet guest needs in a professionalized offering without actually needing to expand their own capabilities, while the acquisitions give these providers access to new business opportunities.

Fitness in the resident room

In 2017, Hilton rolled out its personalized wellness platform, Five Feet to Fitness. Available at nine Hilton hotels in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Texas and Virginia, Five Feet to Fitness is a specialized fitness-centric hotel room that places workout equipment in the individual hotel room itself, from a stationary bike to weights to yoga to suspension.

Courtesy of Hilton
Hilton’s “Five Feet to Fitness” program brings workout equipment into hotel rooms. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Powering the workouts is a touchscreen kiosk, which lets users personalize their workouts by choosing from more than 200 exercise tutorials in over 25 classes.

“Travel can put a lot of stress on the body, and making movement attainable makes for a better stay and more productive trip,” says Melissa Walker, Hilton’s senior director of global brand wellness. “Our goal is to design environments that make hotel workouts uncomplicated and invigorating so that travelers will be more inclined to keep fit.”

Also creating a room-based, personalized fitness experience is Westin Hotels & Resorts, which partnered in 2017 with the tech-based Peloton exercise bike. “Rise & Ride with Westin and Peloton” lets Westin guests at nearly 50 locations across 23 states plus Washington, D.C. participate in more than 4,000 live streaming biking and exercise classes with other riders in other Westins, all across the country.

Why this matters for senior living: These innovations touch upon four dimensions of wellness pertinent to senior living. The first is obvious: physical. Exercise and fitness are crucial pieces of a senior’s wellness needs. The second is spiritual. As seniors lose mobility, their worlds shrink. Creating exercise options in resident rooms will make these rooms feel expansive rather than constrictive.

The final ones are related: the social and the emotional. As Peloton co-founder and COO Tom Cortese explained at the 2017 PSFK Conference, the company views itself as an “interactive media company.”

“We want folks to want to work out,” Cortese explained. He calls Peloton a product that delivers an “immersive, entertaining and interactive fitness experience.” In other words, his company’s product checks multiple wellness boxes for the senior population.

Added Cortese: “When you ask an obsessed Peloton rider what they love so much about Peloton, they’re not going to talk about the software or the bike itself. They’re going to talk about their instructors and the actual class that motivates them to ride hard 45 minutes every single day.”

Resident-led programming

The Charlotte Marriott City Center is more than a hotel — it is an innovation incubator where guests get to point the hotel brand in new wellness directions. Launched in 2016, the wellness incubator M Beta is a series of innovations and experiments in hospitality, with guests serving as the arbiters of addition.

The program lets guests experience and then vote on creative new deliveries of standard hotel service, everything from a mobile app for check-in to guest-driven room furniture configuration to immersive dining experiences built around the guest to on-demand, screen-driven stationary bike programming.

Why this matters for senior living: Hotel residents are made to feel at home, but senior living residents really are at home. A senior living provider that can develop wellness programs and services driven by resident requests and recommendations can create experiences that truly serve each individual.

This article draws from the new report, “The Wellness Revolution Shaping Senior Living.”

Click here to access the complete report, which digs deep into the wellness initiatives shaking up senior living, and reveals what senior housing leaders need to do to remain cutting edge.

Written by Jack Silverstein