New research found that although hotel fitness facilities can cost as much as $220,000 to build and $16,000 per year to maintain, only 22 percent of guests can be expected to utilize the amenities.
Although hotel gyms often see negative returns, research suggests nearly half of all Millennial travelers value on-site fitness amenities when choosing a hotel. (Photo by Thinkstock.)
A recent study published by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research suggests fitness is not a top priority for most travelers in the United States.
Researchers surveyed 782 guests across 33 facilities operated by an anonymous global hotel company “that operates midscale, upscale and luxury brands,” according to the study. Prior to their stay, 46 percent of guests said they intended to work out at their hotel; however, only 22 percent actually did work out.
The researchers determined hotel operators should carefully consider return-on-investment prospects before spending sums of money on equipment and renovations. The study estimates that hotel fitness facilities can cost as much as $220,000 to build and $16,000 per year to maintain.
"This finding underscores the importance of observing guests' actual use of amenities before deciding to make them standard rather than relying only on surveys of guests' desire for and intent to use the amenities," the report said. “The fitness center figured neither in guests’ initial choice nor their repeat purchase decision.”
The researchers cautioned that the study findings, gathered over one year, may inaccurately portray the return-on-investment for a project with “longer time horizons.”
“[W]ith an infinite time horizon we find that the internal rate of return for a fitness center was greater than 20 percent for three of the brands,” the study said.
Last year, a survey conducted by hospitality firm MMGY Global showed that almost half of Millennial travelers prefer hotels with premium fitness centers that offer exercise classes, according to The New York Times. This is compared to nearly a third of Generation Xers and a fourth of Baby Boomers.
This finding was echoed in an American Express Travel survey also conducted last year, the Times reported, in which 49 percent of surveyed Millennials said they valued on-site hotel gyms.
Research from The American Hotel and Lodging Association found that 85 percent of hotels now have on-site fitness facilities, according to PYMNTS.com, compared to just 63 percent in 2004.
In 2015, Equinox Holdings Inc., New York, announced it would open its own branded hotel chain. The company’s first facility is expected to open in Manhattan next year, followed by Los Angeles in 2019. The company hired former Four Seasons Hotels executive Christopher Norton to head its hotel division. Eventually, Equinox aims to open as many as 75 hotels worldwide.