By Anya Martin, MarketWatch
These changes could not come at a better time for corporate road warriors. Those who travel more than 20 days per month are likelier to suffer from obesity and other health problems, according to a study of 13,000 workers by Columbia Universityâ€™s Mailman School of Public Health.
Here are seven new health trends to watch for when deciding where to check in.
Healthy Break-Outs and Team-Building
Driven partly by corporate concern about reducing health-care costs, some hotels are developing activities that extend corporate wellness programs beyond company doors, Lambert said. More nutritious food and exercise help employees sleep better and wake up rejuvenated and productive, she said. â€œWouldnâ€™t it be great if employees came to a business meeting and actually left feeling better than when they came?â€
Event planners have booked Lambertâ€™s Wellness Kitchen classes as elective programming during conferences, as networking opportunities and even executive team-building sessions, she said.
Many Hyatt resort properties also offer wellness-minded break-out options for meeting groups such as yoga in a chair, led by spa staff, or 10- to 15-minute neck, back and shoulder massages, Carucci said.
While most hotels have 10% or fewer smoking rooms, you may end up in one if you arrive late and all nonsmoking rooms are booked. To avoid that risk, check FreshStay.com which lists more than 5,000 completely smoke-free member hotels including the entire Marriott MAR -0.03% Â and Choice chains.
If you have allergies or asthma, or youâ€™re just concerned about air quality, book a PURE room. They feature air purifiers using natural tea tree oil, plus hypoallergenic bed encasements, and they undergo cleaning treatments to remove allergens and bacteria.
About 250 hotels in North America, including many familiar chains, offer PURE rooms, which cost about $20 to $25 more per night, said Brian Brault, chief executive of Pure Solutions North America LLC, which developed the product. Thatâ€™s a fivefold increase since early 2010 when only 50 hotels embraced the concept, he said.
The most frequent PURE room guest is a male business traveler with allergies or asthma, according to a company study.
When Destination Hotels & Resorts launched its Destination Earth program in 2008, the goal was to standardize green practices, such as recycling and energy-efficient lighting, across its portfolio of 37 upscale U.S. properties, said George Fischer, managing director of the company. The changes also led to some healthier options for guests, including paraben-free shampoos, conditioners, lotions and soap.
A type of chemical often used as a preservative and antibacterial agent in personal-care products, parabens may trigger skin allergies in some people and have been found to mimic estrogen, which plays a role in the development of breast cancer, in some studies. Over the past few years, driven by consumer concern, some cosmetics manufacturers have removed the chemicals from their products.
Organic, Locally Produced Food
Beyond low-calorie, low-fat choices, hotels also are incorporating more locally produced, natural and organic ingredients into their restaurant and room-service menus.
Destination Hotels & Resorts serve sustainable wines and prepare dishes with meats, vegetables and cheeses from nearby farms. Hyatt StayFit cuisine encourages chefs incorporate fresh, locally grown ingredients when available. Breakfast choices include organic eggs and milk and were expanded in June 2011 to replace traditional eggs with those from cage-free chickens.
In-Room Fitness Equipment
About 21% of luxury hotels, 17% of upscale hotels, 15% of midprice properties, 7% of economy and 4% of budget hotels offer in-room exercise equipment, according to a 2010 American Hotel & Lodging Association survey of 8,500 hotels nationwide.
â€œWhatâ€™s really pushing [in-room fitness] is the customer,â€ said Joe McInerney, AHLAâ€™s chief executive. â€œPeople are into health and into exercise.â€
In-room options are especially appealing to women travelers, who may have security concerns about exercising alone in a hotel gym late at night or worry about being seen in workout clothes without make-up by colleagues and clients, he said.
For example, Hilton Garden Inn guests can check out a Stay Fit kit, including a Pilates band, yoga mat, strap and bricks, an eight-pound abs ball, hand weights and a resistance rope.
They can also purchase on demand work-out video programming. At Omni Hotels Resorts, their Get Fit Kits feature dumbbells, floor mat, stretch cord, mini-AM/FM headset and water bottle; or you can book a Get Fit Room with a treadmill.
Hyatt Hotels introduced its StayFit@Hyatt concierge service eight years ago, but its amenities for joggers and walkers, which include not having to pack workout attire, are becoming more high-tech. Guests eager to take a run now can choose between palm-size route cards with detailed directions or accessing a digital scan of the map on a smartphone, said Krista Carucci, director of spa operations who oversees all leisure recreation for Hyatt
Complimentary GPS armbands help runners monitor their heart rate, course and distance, and find their way back to the hotel. â€œWe try to provide two different routes, a 2-mile route and one â€¦ up to 7 or 8 miles,â€ she said.
Staff Nutritionists and Wellness Coaches
Some hotels have personal trainers in their gyms; others employ wellness coaches or nutritionists.
You can book a class or individual counseling session with Paulette Lambert, a registered dietician and nutrition director of the California Health & Longevity Institute at The Four Seasons Westlake Village, near Los Angeles. In the hotelâ€™s Wellness Kitchen, Lambert teaches guests tips for healthy travel, plus how to prepare heart-healthy dishes when they return home, such as miso grilled salmon with bok choy or roasted beet salad with avocado and asparagus.