Common mistakes of hotel fitness centers and how to avoid them

WORLDWIDE As fitness centers continue to be a must-have amenity for so many travelers, the hotel industry has responded by developing brand standards and making significant investments into their properties.

Here are five common mistakes that hoteliers make when installing a fitness center.

Poor location. Many hoteliers try to take a useless space—an unused basement or a maintenance room, for example—and turn it into a fitness center. Instead, select an inviting space with easy access for guests. Try to get at least one wall with windows for natural light and ensure the ceiling height is at least 8 ft. Do not locate the fitness center where guests would have to walk past an upscale restaurant, lest you have sweat-soaked guests mingling with nicely-dressed diners.

Cheap equipment. Avoid sub-commercial-grade equipment in hotels. The limited-service sector is notorious for picking up a treadmill at the local department store and then wondering why it is constantly out of order. Purchase commercial, full-usage equipment. Some equipment companies offer a category called “light commercial,” but these tend to be a poor choice as well. You will pay more upfront for the full commercial, but the maintenance and repair cost will be far greater with the lower-grade equipment.

Vague brand standards. Hotel brands should not just dictate quantities and general types of equipment—standards should also specify minimum details like motor strength, warranty and running surface size. Some equipment brands have a one-of-a-kind piece that might be a must-have, while others may not be able to provide adequate service and parts to all hotel locations. Review brand standards every two to three years and include a section on safety.

Uninviting environment. Too many hotels just have equipment in room with mirrors and some mats, plus what they believe to be “hip” music. These rooms tend to be bland, with no energy or sense of arrival. Put the same effort expended in designing lobbies and guestrooms into the fitness center.

Poor cleanliness. Cleaning a fitness center requires a different skill set than regular housekeeping. Hoteliers should compose specific guidelines for fitness center cleaning, including elevating all the treadmills to clean underneath (this will also extend the life of the treadmill). Consider color-coding cleaners to specific parts of the equipment. Peruse manufacturer guidelines for cleaning entertainment screens.

Glenn Colarossi is president of Colarossi Spa & Health Club Consulting & Management, based in Stamford, Connecticut. Colarossi was commissioned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to develop the WestinWorkout program.