Does travel need to be disruptive to our Well-Being?
Traveling is disruptive. Be it to our sleep, our diet, our work, our fitness routine, and if that travel involves crossing numerous time zones, our whole circadian rhythm. On the flip side, travel is exhilarating, opening our eyes to new cultures, new experiences, new connections and business opportunities.
How can we counteract the negatives of travel with the upside of experiences?
So how does one counteract the negatives of travel with the upside of experiences that allow us to thrive and connect as human beings? The answer lies in choosing a hotel brand that has the sole objective of inspiring guests to embark on the pursuit of Well-being, and in doing so enabling their guests to leave feeling better than when they arrived.
Westin Hotels (part of the Starwood brand of hotels) has made this their modus operandi since the launch of their famous Westin Heavenly bed in 1999. Speaking of which, some 100,000 Heavenly beds have been sold world-wide since its launch, with guests realising their quality of sleep had improved while staying in a Westin hotel (often it’s the opposite effect). Add to this Heavenly pillows, Heavenly showers and baths, and bespoke Westin bath amenities, and this hotel brand has successfully positioned itself as a hospitality leader in the Wellness revolution that is taking the Western world by storm.
The Well-Being Movement
Vincent Ong, Senior Director, Brand Management at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., comments, “[At Westin] we see ourselves more as a facilitator and a partner for our guest’s well-being. The key is to help make the travel experience better, and make that the Westin experience.” In addition to this Ong says, “Westin guests see travel not as a disruption, but an opportunity to maintain, if not enhance, their well-being routines.”
With this in mind, the brand launched a forward-thinking initiative in March of this year referred to as the Westin Well-Being Movement, an ambitious US$15 million campaign that aims to further enhance their guest’s stay through wellness initiatives represented by their “Six Pillars of Well-Being”. These Pillars include: Sleep Well; Eat Well; Move Well; Feel Well; Work Well; Play Well, and are guided by the Westin Well-Being Council, a select few high-profile wellness thought leaders who will lead initiatives, provide expert advice, and help Westin guests find innovative ways to Sleep, Eat, Move, Feel, Work and Play well.
The digital Well-Being portal where you will find wellness and lifestyle tips from the Well-Being Council experts, ranging from the British meditation guru, Andy Puddicombe (of HeadSpace), to one of Time magazine’s most influential people, Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post), aims to be the “go to” hub for all things wellness for Westin guests.
As a brand and marketing initiative, the Westin Well-Being Movement campaign is wellness-savvy and hugely appealing to the ambitious, high-achieving market of travellers whom have the disposable income to travel in style, yet prioritise their health and well-being as part of their life balance mantra.
Marketing hype or the real Well-Being deal?
Marketing is one thing, but how does the Westin Well-Being Movement translate into the real world for one of its guests? I had the opportunity to stay at the Westin Melbourne (Australia) recently with the intention of experiencing a short “city-break” while also craving some time out indulging in the luxury of sleep-ins, leisurely breakfasts, and reading the newspaper while being cocooned in the comforts of my hotel room (read between the lines: a busy working mother’s dream holiday!).
I chose the Westin Hotel Melbourne specifically to experience first-hand what the brand had to offer a wellness-obsessed Nutritionist/Well-Being writer/busy mum, and I have to say on first impressions, Westin lives up to its core values of being ‘Personal’, ‘Instinctive’ and offering ‘Renewal’. The serene and sophisticated lobby is soothing to the soul, while the smiles on all of the staff’s faces (and I mean all of them!) is personal, without being intrusive. Westin offers a “gear-lending” service through New Balance, whereby guests can continue their workout regime while travelling, without the inconvenience of having to pack one’s own sneakers and gym gear. Westin also offers workout rooms that can be pre-booked.
These rooms offer fitness equipment such as yoga mats, Pilates DVDs, and treadmills. The “gear-lending” offer was all I needed, as this was a “Renewal” stay for me (I do love your core values Westin!), and swimming laps is more my ‘cup of tea’ than treadmills anyway. Speaking of which, the lap pool was sublime – a stunning feature of the Westin Wellness Centre – perfect temperature and ambient music to continue the body and mind’s journey into relaxation.
Breakfast – fuel your body with SuperFoods
As a Nutritionist and food-lover in general, I was probably most excited about the prospect of breakfast (who doesn’t love a luxury hotel’s buffet breakfast?). Westin Hotels Melbourne has collaborated with Dr Steven Pratt, author of the best-selling book SuperFoods Rx – Fourteen Foods that Will Change Your Life to formulate menu offerings that include the nutritional Super Foods Dr Pratt recommends we all consume for increased longevity.
Our breakfast host, Tim, happily pointed out where all the SuperFoods Rx-inspired breakfast offerings were at the buffet, and these were also easily spotted by Westin Well-Being placards that displayed recognisable icons for the “nutritious choices”. Think protein-rich Greek yoghurt topped with fresh berries, toasted almonds and chia seeds; and of course we can’t forget the freshly brewed coffee to super-charge the morning.
Life in Balance
We live in an age of changes occurring globally in nano-seconds; we are wired (both mentally and to devices) 24-hours a day; we are expected to respond to all forms of communication within almost un-humanly timeframes (think tweets, texts and emails); we process information at a rate exponentially faster than our predecessors; and we are developing diseases as a result of our chaotic lifestyles.
Our Western innovations and affluence have given us so much, but they have also forced us to re-think our most precious asset – our health. Our well-being matters, be it as we navigate our daily lives, or while “on the road” travelling the globe. Westin Hotels recognises this, and have developed an initiative to assist their guests in their own personal quests to seek balance and restore well-being. For this I commend them, and long may the Westin Well-Being Movement continue!
I am Australian-born, raised between Australia, America and New Zealand, and now happily reside in Queenstown, New Zealand. This is partly due to marrying a “Kiwi” (New Zealander), and partly due to my passion for the southern alps of a country so beautiful it literally takes my breath away every day.
My background is varied (who’s isn’t these days?), from originally studying Fine Arts at University with the hope of becoming an Art Curator, to being gainfully employed in a publishing house, an advertising agency and an international airline (all of which allowed me to learn invaluable ‘transferable’ skills), to finally finding my “true calling” in the wellness industry as a holistic Nutritionist (following a further 6 years of study).
My dream is to operate a Wellness Retreat, one where body, mind and soul are nurtured, and that ever-elusive inner peace is found.