But why should we care about a ‘complete wellness hotel experience?’
If we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, that means that the built environment has a huge impact on our health and wellness. Every day our body is interacting with the forms and materials around us. Delos, a Wellness Real Estate company, has been working with scientists, doctors, AEC professionals, and wellness thought leaders for over 7 years trying to quantify these impacts and establish best practices for the design and construction industry. This research has been organized into the WELL Building Standard, the world’s first rating system based exclusively on health and wellness. I believe hotels are in a unique position to build up this healthy buildings movement. Guests from around the world are continually passing through hotels’ doors, and those guests have a heightened concern about the quality of their stay. I believe the combination of these two features make hotels the perfect platform to build the needed momentum around this movement, and the WELL Building Standard. And it is already starting … with MGM Grand. So let’s take a look at what these Stay Well rooms look like.
The MGM Grand Stay Well rooms are available to hotel guests for a $30 per night upgrade and include 20 evidence-based health and wellness features. A few of these features are shown in the diagram below. The Stay Well rooms use purification systems ensuring the water and air that guests are exposed to are free from allergens, toxins and other harmful substances. They also use principles of circadian lighting design in both their energizing lights in the bathrooms and the long wave night lighting in the hallways and bathroom. To find out more about these features, go to: http://delos.com/work/stay-well-at-the-mgm-grand/.
The wellness concept does not stop with these 20 features however. The Stay Well program starts before guests even enter the room, and stays with them after the Vegas trip is over. The process starts with a ‘stress-free’ check-in. What this means: As you enter the MGM Grand and see the incredibly long line for check-in, you can bypass it all and go to the Stay Well check-in, where there won’t be that long, dreaded line. It is like the fast-pass at Cedar Point or Disney World. Who doesn’t love to skip the lines? Once you enter the room, there is a Wellness message from Dr. Deepak Chopra explaining some of the features of the room, and encouraging you to continue on your wellness path after your visit is over. After you have had your fun and relaxing time in Vegas, Stay Well takes on another form: a mobile app. The Stay Well Home app includes a circadian timeline to help keep users active and guiding them to receive the proper amount of Vitamin D. It also includes a nutrition and activity tracker. Cleveland Clinic provides continued wellness education support both through the app and to the Stay Well guests.
But wait, guess what … there’s more.
What started out as 42 rooms at the MGM Grand in 2012 is now developing into a lifestyle brand. In 2013, “after an overwhelmingly positive response and strong occupancy since inception, … MGM Grand [expanded] from 42 to 171 rooms and suites to encompass the entire 14th floor.”* MGM Grand is able to make a 20% premium off an entire floor, and still have a 96% occupancy rate.** For them, this was more than just health and wellness – this also just made plain business sense. The Stay Well expansion has not stopped there. There are now 5 other hotels across the
My favorite extension, however, is the Stay Well Shop. All of these additional health and wellness features are fantastic, but guests are not usually staying in these rooms very long- so what time of long-term benefits will we really see from them? The user might think they are great, but then they leave and continue living in a home that is not utilizing any of these healthy strategies and technologies. The Stay Well Shop is not just about providing additional revenue, it also makes the Stay Well Rooms more than just a one-time experience in a far-off city--it allows the users to learn from it and bring it into their homes. The addition of this shop and the apps, extends the life of the Stay Well program so that these wellness concepts begin to transform how we view our built environment.
The Stay Well Rooms are the perfect platform to start to expand the conversation on how our built environment affects our health and well-being and can hopefully pave the way for systems like the WELL Building Standard. Hotels have the ability to interact with thousands of people from across the world on a continual basis. By starting to incorporate these wellness features into hotel rooms, it is prompting all of those guests to start to reconsider their surrounding environment. Can a change in materials or air filters help my allergies or my asthma? What is in my drinking water? Can a change in lighting help my sleeping problems? Why am I using low-VOC paint? These are questions we need building occupants to be asking.
I want to conclude with an excerpt of a review of the Stay Well rooms at MGM Grand. I like this review for a couple reasons. One – he is honest about his skepticism. Two – he seems to have a strong understanding of the hotel industry. His article is entitled, “I’m a wellness believer.” Just that alone shows how these rooms have the opportunity to educate users on the built environment’s ability to improve our health and well-being. For the rest, I’ll leave you to it.
In his review of the Stay Well rooms at MGM Grand, Shawn Turner from Hotel News Now writes, “I was expecting the amenities to be extremely gimmicky and not at all helpful, but I didn’t find that to be the case. Instead, I found the offerings to be quite useful. Maybe it was all in my head, but after showering in the vitamin water, my skin genuinely felt softer; the air quality seemed better than in many of the other hotel rooms I stay during the course of the year; and the “energizing light”? Well, OK. That might be a gimmick. I didn’t feel any more awake, less jet lagged or sleepier after standing in front of it. A little awkward, yes. But not more awake. … Bottom line, I greatly enjoyed my stay on property in the Stay Well room. And I believe I’ll soon have a similar experience at other hotels. Not only because the hotel industry is a copycat industry but because taking a selection of rooms and giving them a wellness theme makes financial sense for operators.”**
So now – let’s just hope what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas – and we start seeing more of these wellness features in buildings across the world.