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Profile: Ryan Crabbe on Hilton's new in-room fitness concept

Hilton’s new Five Feet to Fitness room promises to take in-room wellness to a whole new level. Jane Kitchen talks to Ryan Crabbe, senior director of global wellness for Hilton, to find out what makes it different

By Jane Kitchen, Spa Business and Spa Opportunities | Published in Health Club Management 2017 issue 7
Crabbe says wellness travellers are ready for 
in-room fitness
Crabbe says wellness travellers are ready for in-room fitness
Hilton’s in-room fitness programme was inspired by a Cornell University study which found 46 per cent of travellers want to work out while they’re staying at a hotel, but only around 20 per cent actually do

Hospitality giant Hilton has unveiled a new in-room concept, Five Feet to Fitness, which brings more than 11 different fitness equipment and accessory options into the hotel room and creates an upselling option for hotel operators. The move is part of Hilton’s goal of modernising its fitness experience, while at the same time making it more inclusive.

Ryan Crabbe, senior director of global wellness for Hilton says the room is a “personal wellbeing stage”.

“We like to describe it as a guestroom dedicated to movement and mindfulness,” he tells Health Club Management. “It really is the first of its kind – a hybrid room.”

What’s in the room?
The Five Feet to Fitness room features an indoor bike from British cycling innovator Wattbike, which can be used for either longer indoor exercise sessions or focused interval-training workouts. A dynamic Gym Rax functional training station delivers strength, suspension, core and high intensity interval training (HIIT).

At the heart of the concept is the Fitness Kiosk, a touch-screen display embedded within the Gym Rax system, where guests can get equipment tutorials and follow guided workout routines.

“Travellers are committed to fitness more than they’ve ever been, and they’re experimenting with non-traditional exercise,” says Crabbe. “Five Feet to Fitness is a programme that’s designed to meet those evolving needs and to keep guests happy and healthy before, during and after their stay. What this means for us is we have to broaden the hotel fitness experience by making it easier to maintain – and start – healthy habits while travelling. We now sense a real opportunity for doing that.”

The fitness space – around 100sq ft (9 sq m) – is located near a room’s window and features sports-performance flooring. “People need to run, move and sweat – and you can’t do that on carpet,” explains Crabbe.

Hilton has created more than 200 bespoke fitness videos in categories in partnership with Aktiv Solutions, including cardio, cycling, endurance, strength, HIIT, yoga, stretch and recovery. Also included in the room is a meditation chair, blackout shades for restorative sleep and Biofreeze products to ease muscle tension.

A different approach
“The room is very different from the way others in the hospitality industry have imagined in-room fitness; often it’s been done by putting in a piece of equipment in the closet or rolling in a piece of cardio, but we really wanted to reimagine the space in its entirety and be empathetic with customers who want to work out but don’t make it to the gym,” says Crabbe. “We want to be empathetic with their pain points and how we can make fitness convenient – and make wellness, mindfulness and fitness more accessible.”

Crabbe says the concept was inspired by a Cornell University study released last year, which found 46 per cent of travellers say they want to work out while they’re at a hotel, but only around 20 per cent actually do. The study inspired Crabbe to do his own guest research, and he found that a quarter of Hilton guests expressed interest in a dedicated in-room fitness concept. This, combined with a growth in popularity for functional training and the capacity challenges that every hotel faces at peak times, led to the development of the concept.

“We know no matter how successful people are at making healthy decisions at home, replicating those choices while travelling is often not as easy as it should be,” says Crabbe. “We’re creating choice for guests and enabling them to control their own fitness experience.”

First locations
The Five for Fitness concept, which has just made its debut at the Parc 55 Hotel San Francisco and the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in Virginia, will be an upgrade to a standard room, with customers paying US$45 extra. Hotel owners interested in the concept must commit to at least three Five Feet to Fitness rooms; Hiltons in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and San Diego have already signed up.

The programme will launch in the US, but Crabbe says there’s “real potential for it to go global,” and that he intentionally partnered with companies with global distribution to create the room.

More fitness from Hilton
This is just one of several new ways Hilton is addressing fitness.

“We’re taking on programmes that have us dreaming outside the confines of the fitness centre,” says Crabbe. That includes expanding outdoor fitness options, such as HIIT and yoga on the beach.

“Fitness doesn’t just need to be about what’s happening inside the hotel’s gym,” Crabbe explains. “We’re developing outdoor programmes and content for hotels with the right geography or spaces.”

Hilton is also looking at how to use other areas in the hotel – such as stairs.

“We’re giving stairwells a makeover in some of our hotels, creating environments with motivational graphics and music to encourage guests to get their steps in and to move.” he explains. “Five Feet to Fitness is just one of the many ways we’re aiming to deliver fitness in different and reinspired ways.”

Hilton begins roll-out of new in-room fitness concept

Hilton’s new Five Feet to Fitness in-room fitness concept has made its debut at two Hilton-partnered properties in North America – the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco and the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner in Virginia.

A number of other Hilton properties will follow suit soon, with a good spread across the US. Properties already signed up and waiting to go live are in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and San Diego.

Hilton says it will fine tune the concept in the US before undertaking a global rollout to take advantage of the growing wellness travel trend.

Parc 55 San Francisco: one of the first Hiltons to offer fitness rooms
Parc 55 San Francisco: one of the first Hiltons to offer fitness rooms
What’s in a Hilton fitness room?
What’s in a Hilton fitness room?
Ryan Crabbe says innovation in fitness is a major focus for Hilton Hotels
Ryan Crabbe says innovation in fitness is a major focus for Hilton Hotels
Guests can get tutorials and workout routines from the Fitness Kiosk
Guests can get tutorials and workout routines from the Fitness Kiosk
Over 200 different workouts have been developed in partnership with a specialist designer
Over 200 different workouts have been developed in partnership with a specialist designer
http://www.leisureopportunities.com/images/300919_694888.jpg
Hilton's new in-room fitness concept – Five Feet to Fitness – promises to take traveller wellness to a whole new level. We talked to Ryan Crabbe, senior director of global wellness, to find out more
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