Westin teams up with New Balance to give travelers a reason to stay fit while traveling

westinIt’s getting a little harder to avoid working out on vacation. Westin Hotels & Resorts and New Balance have joined forces to empower travelers to stay healthy and fit when away from home by providing New Balance footwear, apparel and fitness program content at Westin Hotels worldwide.

During a pilot program in 2010, guests of 10 Westin properties were given access to New Balance shoes and accessories during their stay to incorporate some wellness with their travel. The program was so successful, Westin is planning to roll out the New Balance offerings in all Westin-branded hotels worldwide in 2011.

“Convenient access to the proper athletic equipment and programming is vital to the traveler who wants to stay healthy and fit while they’re away from home,” said Hilary Keates, director of global marketing and brand management for New Balance. “New Balance is excited to partner with Westin to provide their health and fitness-minded guests with footwear, apparel, accessories and programming for an overall enhanced experience. As leaders in our respective categories with like-minded consumers, this alliance made perfect sense.”
Westin guests wanting to workout will get travel-specific fitness content from New Balance Fitness Ambassador and Exercise TV celebrity trainer Holly Perkins, who will develop exclusive in-room fitness and equipment-free content that includes stretching and strengthening workouts, cardio and yoga. The program includes “Wellness in Travel” tips from Holly on nutrition and creative ways to combat jet lag and healthy living. New Balance is also working with individual Westin properties to enhance its current three- and five-mile local area running maps. As part of the partnership, participating properties will provide guests traveling to a city for a major athletic event, such as a marathon, with wellness amenities, including turn-down gifts with “performance/fuel” goodies for the race and “good luck” wake-up calls.

We want to know: If given all the equipment, including shoes, would you be more inclined to workout when you travel?

Almost two-thirds of vacations canceled

Being a working stiff blows. It’s bad enough that two years of recession sorrows have forced us to “work smarter not harder” and “do more with less.” Now, we’re also turning our vacations into office time. A study commissioned by Westin Hotels & Resorts, based on 1,500 employed professionals, found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) canceled their vacations this year. A third canceled their vacations for work-related reasons.

For those who pushed forward with their time off … well, why did they bother? Twenty-five percent of respondents say they check into work hourly while on vacation – by e-mail and phone.

Okay, so are you ready for the real shocker now? A whopping 58 percent of respondents say “they are more in need of a vacation than last year.” What good would it do, though, if they’re just going to spend the whole trip checking in at the cubicle farm? To make matters at least a shade grimmer, 67 percent “feel better on vacation” and 64 percent “sleep better when they’re not working.”

[photo by Evil Erin via Flickr]

Westin and Amazon team up for co-branded storefront and bonus gift cards

Westin Hotels & Resorts have teamed up with Amazon to deliver the first hotel branded storefront for the popular online retailer.

Westin started selling its own merchandise ten years ago, and since then they have sold nearly 40,000 Heavenly beds, 100,000 pillows and more than 10,000 of their Heavenly spa amenities.

That kind of retail success is very impressive, and it makes sense for them to turn to Amazon to continue the trend.

Starting March 1st, fans of Westin products can head to Amazon.com/Westin for an assortment of brands such as Gaiam, Kate’s Paperie, Tea Forté and Riedel. Of course, the Amazon Westin store will also be home to the Heavenly bed and other Westin signature retail products.

To celebrate the launch, Westin guests with two mid-week stays between February 22nd and May 13th 2010, will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. To be eligible, you will need to register for the promotion at westin.com/balance before booking the stays.

As someone who is a huge fan of the Heavenly bed, I’ll certainly be checking it out as soon as the Amazon store opens on March 1st.

Mixing Business with Adventure

The New York Times had an excellent article a couple of days back offering up some great tips on how to mix business and adventure for travelers who are frequently heading over seas for their jobs. Often times those travelers are short on free time, and may only be visiting a country for a few days, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of that time to still take in the local sights and soak up some culture.

The article is written by Sue Brush, who is the Senior Vice President for Westin Hotels and Resorts, and for the past 20 years her job has taken her all over the planet. In that time, she’s seen a lot of changes in the way that we travel, and had the opportunity to explore dozens of foreign lands.

For business travelers, the key is to be efficient and take advantage of what ever amount of time is at your disposal. Sue says that when she was in Egypt back in 2007, she immediately switched into casual clothes upon her arrival and went to see the pyramids and to ride a camel in the Sahara. In total, she estimates that she spent no more than an hour taking in the sights, but it was still worth the effort.
The frequent flyer also recommends getting as much work done on the long flights as you possibly can. Many people relax, read, watch the inflight movie, or sleep while in transit. But if you take advantage of that time, and get some work done before your arrival, it may afford you the opportunity to enjoy the destination to a much larger degree.

With a little foresight and planning, the opportunity to mix in a little adventure can make those long business trips more rewarding and pleasureable.

Brain feeling blah? Exercise it.

On New Year’s Eve I spent an hour or so engaged in the board game Battle of the Sexes with friends. I think that was the name of it. We were on vacation at their house in Ottawa, Ohio. A few hours before the game, the female half of this couple took me on a drive through town to show me where the water line was when the town flooded this summer. Their basement family room was royally trashed by water.

Thanksgiving weekend, I spent an hour or so playing some other brain engaging activity with my husband’s family in Hinckley, Ohio (It’s where the buzzards come to roost each spring.) It was a short vacation; we didn’t stay overnight, but the trip involved 5 hours of driving, so I call that getting away. I can’t remember the name of Thanksgiving’s game, but I do remember it involved drawing, acting and trivia.

According to a post at Intelligent Traveler, this game playing is part of a travel trend. Wow! I would have done a better job and won if I knew I was cutting edge. Since playing games gives your brain a workout AND helps you relax, people in the hotel business are wooing guests by providing game playing and brain exercise options.

Some, like Hyatt Resorts are providing board games for guests to use. Seminars, workshops and classes on how to get your brain on fire with vim and vigor while you’re on break from the rest of your life are also in the mix. Westin Hotels have brain exercises they hand out to their guests.

When I stayed at the Westin in Taipei, I was so thrilled with the bedding and the bathtub since it was such a contrast to the funky, odd, kind of uncomfortable apartment we lived in Hsinchu with its hard as a rock mattress, tub that you really couldn’t sit in, and hot water that barely lasted through one shower , much less two, that brain food would have been a distraction from the luxury.

After reading about this game trend, it occurred to me that southeastern Kentucky is way ahead. One of the regular activities at the Buckhorn Lake State Park resort is playing Bingo. That’s a game I can win. The last time I stayed there, I left with a ceramic mug.