EVEN Hotel Brand Thrives on ‘Wellness’

Lobb_Bar_V.jpegInterContinental Hotels Group recently opened its wellness-themed EVEN Hotel New York‒Times Square South at 321 W. 35th St.

The property afforded New York architecture and interior design firm Glen & Company plenty of opportunities to help guests find and maintain balance through welcoming and revitalizing design, according to founder/owner Glen Coben.

The 35th Street EVEN (another is planned for 44th Street) targets the health-conscious business traveler and the tourist who wants to maintain a food and fitness routine. The design gives guests opportunities to work, work out, play, and relax.

Coben’s firm filled the lobby walls with nature ‒ living plants, a ten-foot-tall terrarium, a rock installation enclosed in metal mesh, and large-scale digitally produced images of grass. The concentric circles formed by a raindrop inspired the borders that separate wood and tile sections of the lobby floor, and the shape of a wooden trellis that hangs from the ceiling.

The designer carried the nature theme through to the guest rooms with greenery-themed curtains, wooden accessories, and earth-toned tapestries. Guests can adjust in-headboard lights by color to help them unwind.

They can focus on fitness in their rooms, which have built-in exercise stations with video guidance, or in the lobby-level fitness room, which Coben said is more visible to guests than the standard, basement-level hotel fitness center and three times its size.

“I tried it,” Coben said of the in-room gym. “It’s a great workout and it’s a great supplement to doing a cardio workout in the gym.”

EVEN converted other-branded hotels in Norwalk, Conn., and Rockville, Md., to its whole-building wellness concept last year, designed by an in-house team. The 35th Street hotel is its first venture into building one from scratch, and designed by outside firms. Peter Poon Architects, New York, is the architect of record.

“Compared to a conversion, you need to figure everything out,” Coben said. “We’re able to really control the narrative.”

Wellness is an ever-expanding narrative in the hotel industry.

“The healthy hotel will ultimately become more inspired and comprehensive and move from virtuous exception to part of the hospitality vernacular, because everyone, everywhere, now more than ever, needs travel that restores,” says a SpaFinder report on hotel trends. “The growing demand for healthier travel of all breeds means this category will grow nine percent annually through 2017, 50 percent faster than ‘regular’ tourism.”

Guests who want a quick workout between meetings or before bed have driven other hoteliers toward the in-room fitness model, according to hotel consultant Robert A. Rauch. Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Omni, which also provide yoga mats, dumbbells and Pilates bands along with instruction cards or videos, Rauch wrote in a Hotel News Now column in May. Omni will even provide guests with an in-room treadmill, for a fee.

The amazing thing about the hotel industry is its continuing drive to reinvent itself, added Coben.

“I know of other hotels that have dedicated themselves to wellness, but not to the extent of EVEN,” he said. “They’re all in, which is very, very inspirational to me.”