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.
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. 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. 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
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