Feb. 28, 2012 at 4:32 PM ET
If you’ve ever struggled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling, help may be at hand. On Tuesday, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced the launch of EVEN, a new hotel brand designed to help people maintain their health and wellness routines when they’re away from home.
“We did a lot of research and 80 percent of the people we talked to said they find it hard to maintain their routines and discipline when they travel,” said Kirk Kinsell, president of IHG Americas. “They tend to fall off the wagon.”
To counter that, the new brand is designed to provide support in four main areas: exercise, food, work and rest. Among the amenities:
Nevertheless, and despite the holistic focus, Kinsell maintains that guests don’t have to be hardcore fitness buffs to stay at the hotel.
“It’s not a boot camp; it’s not a place where you have to get up and do the 10-mile run,” he told msnbc.com. “It’s a place where people who want to be healthier or need to be healthier will have that choice.”
EVEN, of course, is not the first hotel brand to highlight health and well-being. At Westin, guests can reserve special rooms with a treadmill, exercise bike or dumbbells while Hilton Garden Inn offers complimentary Stay Fit Kits, including Pilates bands, yoga mats and hand weights.
“It all goes back to basics,” said Robert Mandelbaum, director of research information services at PKF Hospitality Research. “A hotel’s mission is to make people feel at home and what do people do at home? They work out.”
At the same time, say observers, the time is ripe for new brands, which was clearly not the case in the years before the recession when dozens of new hotel brands hit the market.
“It’s different this time because the industry is on a recovery path and so few new hotels are being built,” said consultant Scott Brush of Brush & Co. Not surprisingly, perhaps, IHG, which operates Holiday Inn and several other brands, is focusing on converting existing properties rather than trying to finance expensive projects from scratch.
For now, IHG is keeping mum on EVEN’s inaugural property, saying only that it’ll announce the first location in the second quarter of this year and that the company expects to open its first property in “the first part” of 2013.
“We’re reloading for the future,” said Kinsell. “It takes time for these things to get going and we’re not going to have one in every community for a while.”
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.