Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards delivers healthy dose of fitness

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The front entrance of the Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards.
The front entrance of the Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski

NEW YORK -- The newly opened Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards feels less like a hotel than a swanky fitness center where you happen to also be able to get a good night's rest.

Tucked within a high-rise in Manhattan's shiny new Hudson Yards development, the 212-room property marks the first hospitality venture for luxury gym operator Equinox, and it certainly doesn't shy away from flaunting its fitness roots. 

Throughout the 25th-floor lobby, employees and the concierge team can be spotted sporting white athletic shoes as part of their uniforms, and Electric Lemon, the hotel's Stephen Starr-led all-day restaurant and bar, puts a clear emphasis on health-focused fare such as chia seed bowls, chickpea pasta and pasture-raised chicken with peach salad. 

Even the restaurant's cocktails showcase unusually wholesome sounding ingredients, with drinks such as La Dera and Peas Go featuring aloe liqueur and a sweet pea shrub, respectively. 

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The terrace pool at the Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski

According to Chris Reed, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, Electric Lemon's culinary approach is "healthy food that doesn't taste like health food."

The fitness and wellness focus extend to the guestrooms, as well, which are well-appointed and feature expansive views of west midtown and the Hudson River. Each room is able to function as a sort of standalone mini-wellness center, as they are equipped with not just a yoga mat but also yoga blocks, resistance bands and a miniature foam roller and massage ball. 

Men's and women's workout clothing are stocked in each closet, available for a fee, with a tank top, leggings, shirt and shorts priced between $28 and $88 each.

Other in-room items offered for purchase include everything from CBD and magnesium cream ($80) to a vegan probiotic from Juice Press ($20).

Moreover, the Equinox Hotel appears to have put a concerted effort into creating an optimal sleep environment, which, according to Reed, has been shown by sleep science to revolve around the trifecta of being "cool, dark and quiet."

Exercise equipment and views of the Hudson River at the hotel's expansive Equinox Fitness Club.
Exercise equipment and views of the Hudson River at the hotel's expansive Equinox Fitness Club. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski

Research from the 2019 J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study indicates that quality of sleep is among the biggest drivers of customer satisfaction and found that just 29% of guests have reported having a "better-than-expected quality of sleep" during a hotel stay. So it seems the property's investment in guest shut-eye may be an astute move.

A bedside iPad enables easy control of the thermostat and automated blackout shades, while soundproof room construction with padded walls promises to block out noise. Each room's Coco-mat mattress is temperature-regulating and made with all-natural fibers, and the beds have two separate, side-by-side duvets, eliminating the issue of blanket hogs. 

Of course, the rooms, main lobby and restaurant all pale in comparison with the piece de resistance, the Equinox Hotel's 60,000-square-foot Equinox Fitness Club. The club's check-in area is massive, suggestive of a hip coworking space, and the gym itself feels endless, with row after row of weights, exercise machines and treadmills; an indoor pool; a Pilates area; a yoga studio; and more.

During my visit in early August, just days after the hotel's official opening, the fitness center appeared to be bustling, and Reed said hotel occupancy was roughly 90%. 

The hotel's most popular hot spot was clearly the fitness center's outdoor pool and terrace, which boasts a prime view of Hudson Yards' centerpiece artwork, the 150-foot-tall, hive-like sculpture called the Vessel. 

Those crowds at the Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards, however, could soon start to thin as a result of a political controversy. A few days prior to my tour, news media reported that Stephen Ross, majority owner of real estate development group Related Cos., would be hosting a Hamptons fundraiser for President Trump on Aug. 9. 

Related Cos. is one of the primary developers of the Hudson Yards mixed-use complex as well as the parent company of Equinox and sister fitness brands Soul-Cycle and Blink Fitness. 

Ross' ties to Trump sparked criticism from some Equinox members, a group that tends to be highly concentrated in liberal-leaning markets such as New York, which has more that 30 Equinox Fitness Club locations, and Southern California, which has more than 20. A campaign to boycott Equinox has since erupted on social media, with Equinox executive chairman and managing partner Harvey Spevak eventually issuing an apology in a letter sent to members in mid-August.

"I am sorry for the impact [this] has had on our community -- and I'm sorry we haven't said more," said Spevak. "Mr. Ross is not the majority investor in Equinox. He is one of the investors including myself. He does not run the company. Our focus has always been about building a community centered on our values, not politics."

The guestrooms at the Equinox Hotel are optimized for rejuvenating sleep.
The guestrooms at the Equinox Hotel are optimized for rejuvenating sleep. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski

Spevak added that Equinox would be making a $1 million donation to five charities, including House Lives Matter, an organization dedicated to supporting sexual and gender minority people of color, and women-based Alzheimer's research fundraising program Move for Minds.

Whether the philanthropic efforts are enough to assuage Equinox's member base remains to be seen, but the brand appears bullish on expansion.

The company plans to bring its hotel concept to Seattle, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago, though with some of those cities being bastions of liberalism, the brand's hotel development could prove rockier than expected.

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