by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | September 01, 2014

Wellness is the word of the moment in the hotel industry. The growing desire among travelers to maintain a healthy routine away from home has spawned a movement that's quickly gaining momentum. Hotel initiatives to capture the loyalty of wellness-minded guests range from rental workout gear and sleep-inducing bedding to yoga breaks and catering menus themed around super foods.  

Some chains, like Starwood's Westin Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental's new Even Hotels (which debuted this past June with a 129-room property in Norwalk, Conn.), have built their entire brand concepts around the wellness culture.

Marketplace research supports these efforts. According to several recent traveler surveys, staying fit and eating well are among their biggest concerns. The May 2014 Small Business Report by Expedia queried more than 7,000 employees and found that 81 percent make an effort to eat healthfully while on the road, and an impressive 52 percent take advantage of a hotel's gym facilities.

These findings are largely mirrored across the pond. In a 2013 study of 675 European business travelers by the Global Business Travel Association, 65 percent of respondents said maintaining a healthy diet while on the road was a key concern, and 46 percent said sticking to their exercise routines was a definite priority.

Following is a closer look at the wellness initiatives of some major hotel chains and several individual properties.

MGM Grand, Las Vegas 

A new Stay Well room at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Sin City might not spring to mind as a wellness destination, but that hasn't stopped the 5,044-room MGM Grand, MGM Resorts International's flagship hotel, from taking up the banner. Last year, the property teamed up with Delos, a U.S.-based wellness real-estate developer, and unveiled 42 Stay Well rooms equipped with 20 features intended to allow guests to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Demand was so great for the product that this year the hotel converted all 171 rooms and suites on its 14th floor into the Wellness Collection, and introduced the new Stay Well Lounge exclusively for those guests.

"It was a huge commitment converting these rooms, but the demand is absolutely there," says Gregg Herning, vice president of sales for the property. "Once groups find out about those rooms, they are intrigued. They want to book them for their VIPs, corporate leaders, speakers, even for their heavy lifters who are working these large conventions round the clock."

Among Stay Well rooms' features are a vitamin C-infused shower, an air-purification system, blue-shaded lighting to increase energy and reduce jet lag, blackout shades, and a minibar loaded with energizing snack foods such as raw almonds, yogurt-covered raisins and coconut water.

At press time, Delos and MGM Grand took the concept into the boardroom with the launch of Stay Well Meetings. Created with input from wellness guru Dr. Deepak Chopra and the Cleveland Clinic, this initiative is designed to enhance the health and productivity of attendees via curated menus and mental and physical exercises, supplemented by wellness elements built into the meeting space, including air- and water-purification systems, creativity-enhancing color schemes, aromatherapy and more.

The program was unveiled at the MGM Grand in mid-August, when Dr. Chopra was on hand to help cut the ribbon to 13 newly designated Stay Well meeting rooms.