A new hotel brand from the parent of Holiday Inn has the following pitch: Your normal eat-sleep-exercise routine doesn’t need be disrupted just because you’re on a business trip or family vacation. EVEN Hotels, in other words, wants you to stay balanced—”even,” if you will—while traveling.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is taking this somewhat New Age-y concept from the province of spa resorts and hoping it will prove a lucrative lure in the mainstream, where business travelers often congregate in suburban corporate locales. The first EVEN will open next month in Norwalk, Conn., north of Manhattan and home to several major companies, followed by in Rockville, Md., outside Washington. Three additional EVENs will open next year in New York. IHG is positioning the brand in the same “upscale select” set as Marriott’s (MAR) Courtyard and Starwood’s (HOT) Aloft brands.
What is a “wellness” hotel? For starters, “it’s not just about a great gym,” says Adam Glickman, the brand’s director. “Wellness is something that’s become part of our everyday life.” So EVEN will offer standing work surfaces for those who shun desks, space in the rooms to stretch and exercise, and “eucalyptus linens” on the beds to help improve sleep. Hotel restaurants will feature quinoa wraps, protein smoothies, and other such fare, although alcohol will also be available to accommodate catholic definitions of wellness. The chain is ditching the front desk, too: You’ll be escorted to a smallish island and offered infused water as you check in.
The appeal to balance, health, and wellness aims straight for the Whole Foods (WFM) crowd, which willingly pays a premium for groceries enveloped in what is often called a health halo. Plenty of companies—think Lululemon Athletica (LULU), Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Patagonia, and West Elm (WSM)—have successfully tapped the same market for clothes, coffee, furniture, and more. Glickman sees no reason EVEN can’t do the same for travel plans. The wellness gambit coincides with a major push by many large corporations to improve employees’ health, which alone could put the brand on a travel manager’s radar.