InterContinental Hotels Group launches EVEN, a wellness-focused hotel brand

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) today announced the US launch of EVEN™ Hotels, its new, wellness-focused hotel brand.

What is a “wellness hotel”?
Over a span of 18 months, IHG closely analyzed emerging trends, conducted studies and talked to over 4,000 customers. The research showed a demand shift to a holistic wellness travel experience, and confirmed an unmet need among customers – staying healthy while they travel.

Keep in mind, these won’t be destination spas or luxury resorts. The operating model for EVEN Hotels will be similar to limited service hotels.

What will guests find?
Guest rooms will be designed for in-room workouts with multi-functional room amenities (e.g. coat rack that doubles as pull-up bars); a best-in-class gym with equipment and group exercise activities; a “Wellness Wall” resource for fitness tips, walking distances, and equipment rentals; and personalized guest services offering advice on fitness options.

Rooms will feature tech amenities such as high speed Wi-Fi, multimedia ports, easy access to outlets, and ample desk space. Additionally, there will be social areas in the bar and lobby. Rooms will also feature green and allergy-friendly amenities, including: hypoallergenic linens, powerful showerheads, natural lighting, LED dimmers, and antibacterial wipes.
Nutritionally designed menus will offer a particular focus on natural, fresh, fit, and energizing meals. In an open-air café and bar, guests can enjoy complimentary coffee, mini-smoothies, and flavored, filtered water with glass bottles available to fill up and take back to their rooms.

The company is so confident in the brand that they have planned an aggressive $150 million growth plan over the next three years and expects to sign contracts for 100 EVEN Hotels within the next five years.

Look for the first locations to be announced soon and the first hotel to open in early 2013.

Travel fitness: Packing light helps travelers stay in shape

A little bit of planning while you pack will help you to stay in shape and explore your destination with ease. Packing light is essential, and each of these items earns their space in your luggage. Follow the strategy outlined below and you will have an inexpensive, easy to pack, and fun way to explore a new destination that keeps you in shape while you travel.

Running Shoes: Pack a pair of running shoes, preferably trail running shoes. These may double as walking or hiking shoes during your trip.

Synthetic Running Shorts/Bottoms:
Depending on the climate where you are traveling and the level of cultural appropriateness, bring either running shorts or running pants/tights. They should be made from quick-dry synthetic materials. Don’t plan on doing double duty with exercise clothing on your trip — even if you do plan to do laundry.

Running Shirts:
Soccer (football to the rest of the world) jerseys make wonderful running shirts in Europe. They are a fun, useful souvenir and a nice conversation starter when you are out. Just be smart and don’t jog through the park sporting the jersey of local team’s arch rival.Sport Watch: You need a watch with a timer, but it’s likely you have one already in hand so just set the right time and go.

A Map
: Yes, you will need a map of your destination!

Running Wallet:
If you don’t have a good pocket, keep enough money for an emergency cab ride in the local currency, the name and location of your hotel, plus personal ID and emergency contact information with you.

Running is one of the most efficient methods of exercise and it doesn’t require any specialized equipment or a specific location. If you are not a runner this routine works equally well for walkers. Even if your hotel does have a gym, ditch it. The great outdoors awaits!

Study your map for a nearby location where you can easily run or walk. Public parks, river paths, beaches, lakes, and old railway tracks (in the US) usually offer a great venue. If you are unsure about the safely or appropriateness of an area, check with your hotel. Plan a simple route and estimate how long it will take you. Ideally, you will be able to travel in a single direction and turn around at a landmark or when a certain amount of time has passed.

Warm up by walking to your route’s start, stretch, start your timer and head out. At your halfway time mark, head for home. A cool down followed by a few push-ups and sit-ups go a long way to keeping you fit on travel.

Plan your run for a beautiful time of day. An early morning or late evening run offers a unique on-the-ground view of a new area. New terrain will keep your eyes and your feet interested and engaged. You may even make a new acquaintance or two! Running can help you appreciate a new area and keep you fit while you are away from home.

Heather Thomas is a writer.