InterContinental, MGM getting onboard with wellness trend

By Danny King
A Stay Well room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.Two major hoteliers are dipping their toes into the wellness stream, and one is already feeling a little healthier.

Last year, MGM Resorts International and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) each kicked off its respective plan to offer guests more options to pursue a healthier stay, be it through food, exercise or rest-related options.

MGM last October converted 42 rooms at Las Vegas' 5,000-room MGM Grand to "Stay Well" rooms, which integrated a wellness program designed and promoted by the New York-based wellness architecture and design firm Delos. The rooms include touches such as "wake-up light therapy" in which blue hues are used to better simulate natural daylight and reverse or minimize jetlag; vitamin C-infused shower water, said to neutralize the effects of chlorine and improve skin and hair health; air purification and water filtration systems; and a photo-catalytic coating on bathroom surfaces that breaks down bacteria.

While the Stay Well program's impact on occupancy is difficult to measure because of the 95% occupancy rate MGM Grand is running this year, the investment appears to be paying off.

Stay Well rooms, which can be booked as of this writing for mid-October weekend stays for about $215 a night, command about $30 more per night than comparable rooms, according to Delos founder Paul Scialla. And while he declined to disclose a typical per-room investment, he estimated that the improvements take a little more than two months to pay off, factoring in the higher room rates.

As a result, MGM said last month that it will boost its number of Stay Well rooms at the hotel to 171.

Meanwhile, IHG is planning to go more broad-based with its efforts by launching its Even Hotels brand next year. The badge, first announced in early 2012, is being created to serve guests who are "frustrated from staying in hotels that do not meet their entire lifestyle and wellness needs," said Adam Glickman, head of Even Hotels.

With that in mind, Even hotels, which will compete on price with select-service brands such as Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard by Marriott, will have larger, three-zone, on-site gyms as well as all natural shower products, in-room yoga balls and mats, and a selection of fresh-squeezed juices at its quick-service counters.

IHG will debut the brand with company-owned hotels in Rockville, Md., and Norwalk, Conn., in 2014, and it will manage the ensuing two New York City properties that are set to open the following year.

"There's a strong appetite and consumer demand for a healthier, wellness-oriented travel experience, and other hospitality brands are recognizing this emerging trend, as well," Scialla said.

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly. 
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