Hilton, Precor partner for sleek hotel fitness rooms; part of new Hilton fitness push

As a key part of Hilton Hotel's chain-wide fitness initiative, Precor and Hilton have partnered on hotel fitness rooms that will be mandatory by the end of 2007 in every full-service hotel, with a strict set of standards from size to decor.
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As a key part of Hilton Hotel's chain-wide fitness initiative, Precor and Hilton have partnered on hotel fitness rooms that will be mandatory by the end of 2007 in every full-service hotel, with a strict set of standards from size to decor.

"We are making a real commitment to fix our fitness centers," Alex Mirza, Hilton senior vice president, corporate development, told SNEWS®. "This is an area where there is an opportunity to differentiate."

The workout rooms, to be branded "Fitness by Precor" in all hotels, are central to the global chain's plan, but not the only step. Mirza was hired late last year to oversee service areas such as fitness, spas and restaurants, and he created a corporate fitness department with a fitness director who is also a personal trainer, Jodi Sullivan, who will work on specifics to programming and who will explore other possible areas such as in-room facilities and fitness guest rooms.

"We want to be creative," Mirza said. "And we wanted to create a brand promise."

The Fitness by Precor rooms will be mandatory in all full-service North American hotels under the Hilton brand by the end of 2007, although hotels that have installed equipment in the last three years will have until 2009 to change to the Precor-branded rooms. Those hotel brands include Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and number about 600 in North America. Eventually, the program will be global.

Already, the first phase of the project has opened at the Waldorf in New York, the New York Hilton, as well as at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Other hotels with the rooms opening soon will include the Doubletree Claremont Hotel in Claremont, Calif.; the Doubletree Club at the Las Vegas Airport in Las Vegas, Nev.; the Hilton Hawaiian Village® in Honolulu, Hawaii; and the Embassy Suites Hotel Alexandria, Va.

Mirza said standards will ensure that guests will have a similar experience in all hotels. Hilton rules cover floor, décor, amount of equipment, type of equipment, equipment positioning, and size of workout room. For example, the smallest rooms will be 500 square feet. In addition, all hotels must update the equipment every three years.

"That's perfect for us," Susan Bell, Precor director of marketing for commercial products, told SNEWS®, because our goal is to have new products on a regular basis."

She noted that Precor commercial dealers will work with their area hotels and the companies to supply the equipment for each room.

"The program directly and indirectly benefits every arm of Precor," she said. "When Hilton was looking for the right business to work with, they selected Precor because of total product offering – cardio, strength and entertainment, as well as our strong branding, and on-the-ground resources, such as dealers."

Hilton and Precor are also looking to collaborate on new product or customizing product, Mirza said, including workout programs on the equipment and entertainment programs for the hotel rooms via its ClubCom private television network system. Precor will also supply strength equipment, while the rooms will also provide miscellaneous accessories and balance equipment from other brands.

Marketing the rooms to travelers may be the biggest hurdle. So far that plan is "developing," Mirza said, with different ideas being discussed. Although he said the rooms will be featured on the hotel's web pages, SNEWS® found only the Beverly Hilton had any significant reference to it as of Aug. 3. Click here to see that. However, this portrayal is one that should attract travelers who make it that far into the website since it lays out specific types of equipment and promotes the partnership.

"This is really exciting for anybody who's a business or personal traveler," Bell said. "It's inspirational."

SNEWS® View: We have written over the years about our personal frustration with hotel workout rooms – antiquated equipment in cramped spaces with no mirrors or windows, for example, even in high-end hotels – as well as how poor hotels treat equipment (e.g. ellipticals on pool decks where they rust and operate poorly due to humidity … what was the hotel thinking?). Click here to see an editorial we ran in March 21, "Hotel workout rooms: a traveler's lament." This deal is long overdue. Over the long run, it was one that could indeed draw travelers, especially business travelers we suspect, to Hilton brands, and it could also help spread awareness of the Precor brand. We applaud Hilton's foresight in going a step beyond a workout room, though, and also hiring a fitness director and creating a corporate department that will make sure what all of its hotel offer will be consistent and increase guest satisfaction. Based on the look of the Beverly Hilton's room in the photo with the story, we can't wait to stay there.

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