Guests will instead be directed to a "Well-ness Island," where an employee will hand them either cool or heated hand towels, depending on the season. They'll also get a cup of water with a slice of lemon or lime to sip. When checking in, they can forgo the traditional room key card for a bracelet that serves the same function, which they can wear while running.
"Having a drink and being welcomed in a refreshing way is very important," says Adam Glickman, head of InterContinental Hotels Group's new EVEN Hotels brand.
Near the island, somewhere off the lobby, guests will see a 1,200-square-foot or more athletic studio covered in frosted glass so they can run and lift weights without worrying that they're putting on a show. It will be divided into three zones for cardio, strength training and mat exercises.
Many major hotel chains in recent years have launched programs to appeal to the increasingly health-conscious traveler. But EVEN Hotels stands out as a midpriced chain that is entirely focused on wellness and fitness. IHG's research shows that there are 17 million travelers who want their hotels to help them accommodate their healthy lifestyle needs, Glickman says.
"Wellness isn't a one-size-fits-all," Glickman says. "It's not just about building a super gym or a small spa. Wellness is about balance."
At IHG's Americas headquarters, all the features that EVEN hotels will offer guests to sleep, relax, eat well and exercise are on display in a 3,000-square foot "Brand Experience Space." The space is a glimpse at what guests can expect when they check into the first two EVEN Hotels, scheduled to open next spring in Rockville, Md., and Norwalk, Conn. Three more will debut in New York City in mid-2015.
An area designed to look like a lobby features various types of seating. There's a communal table with electrical outlets and Internet p! orts. For those who want to sink into cushioned chairs, there's a spot that feels more like a lounge.
Guests will be able to grab food to go or have a sit-down meal in any of the public spaces. Menus will feature healthy options in tapas-like portions that can be ordered through an iPad or tablet: think a kale salad with hazelnuts, dates and radishes in a light vinaigrette. Or grilled chicken over quinoa. Recipes were developed over six months in a test kitchen nearby.
The name EVEN was chosen to reflect the balanced lifestyle that guests crave, which means that they should be given the option of ordering dessert or having a cocktail, Glickman says. Desserts will come in small portions, and cocktails will have fresh ingredients.
The two model guestrooms that are available for preview have training zones with yoga mats, balance balls and other equipment. To accommodate the business traveler who doesn't want to work at a traditional desk, there's a clutter-free rolling desk and ergonomic chairs.
Mollie Tregembo, director of marketing and communications of EVEN Hotels, says many customers indicated that they prefer working standing up. Next to the TV, is a pull-down desk with multimedia ports. The hotels will have free high-speed Wi-Fi.
The beds have partially padded headboards and lights on each side for those who like to work in bed. And for those who simply want to sleep, there are blackout shades. "It never gets dark enough in a hotel room," Tregembo says.
Bathrooms have ample lighting, cubby storage areas and spa-like showers.
Little messages — what Glickman calls whispers — were painted on walls throughout the rooms to motivate guests. Above the in-room training zone, a health-conscious traveler can look up and read this: "Pull up or sit up but never give up."