A new study confirms why I often have hotel gyms to myself.
Hotels are racing to build fancy gyms for their guests—but that may be an exercise in futility.
Fewer than half of hotel guests who say they planned on using a hotel’s fitness center actually use property’s gym during their stay, according to a new survey on hotel amenities by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.
The study polled 782 hotel guests over an eight week period at 33 different properties within a single (unnamed) hotel chain. I’m not a statistician, but the sample size seems small.
46% said they planned to use the gym but only 22% actually did.
I will almost always use the hotel gym, even in the tiny fitness rooms you sometimes find at a roadside property. The most important amenity at a hotel is the Wi-Fi, the only non-negotiable thing, but I put gyms to good use. But apparently I am in the minority.
Still, hotels are investing in fitness–
Hyatt, for example, last month announced it was acquiring wellness hotel and spa operator Miraval Group. Marriott last year opened a lab hotel where it tests out new fitness offerings such as on-demand video classes on guests. Westin is so eager to make exercise easy for guests that it rents out New Balance clothing, though it notes that “socks are yours to keep.” Luxury gym chain Equinox says it plans to open its first hotel in New York by 2019.
An Alternative Solution
It is kind of hard to determine whether hotel gyms matter when almost all hotels have them. I am surprised that more hotels, particularly city hotels, do not partner with gyms (like Equinox) to offer their guests access. The capital expense of procuring fitness equipment is high and maintenance is not cheap. I would think a negotiated rate on guests access might gives guests the best of both worlds: a quality gym experience at a cheaper price. Certainly some hotels already do this.
Still, gyms tend to get crowded–a rare occurrence in a hotel. Speaking personally, I am happy with hotel status quo. Also, 22% utilization rate is a decent number: that alone may still justify the investment.
Do you use the hotel gym? If not, do you intend to use it but just not get around to it?