Goodbye, Jumping Jacks; Hello, SUP Yoga

shutterstock_258682847Gone are the days when a quick five-minutes of jumping jacks before the start of the general session covered a planner’s back on the health and wellness front for the entirety of the meeting. Like so much else about meetings at luxury resorts today, healthy living is taken much more seriously by attendees than ever before. And that could mean SUP yoga, beach boot camp, aqua aerobics and liberal servings of coconut water and kale salad.

Guest expectations today are higher, there are many more options, and resort fitness managers are not only determined to deliver a quality experience, but see delivering on health and wellness as a form of competitive advantage.

The truth of this was brought home last week when Marriott International held a briefing in New York for its Caribbean & Latin American Resorts, a collection that includes such first-class meetings and incentive destinations as the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino, St. Kitts  Resort & The Royal Beach Casino Marriott and CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, among others.


Marriott’s Sarah Dussault, aka “Sarah Fit”

“In their free time, meeting attendees want to make the most of the fitness amenities available on property, which might mean guided night kayaking or sunrise (or sunset) stand-up paddleboard yoga,” explained personal trainer Sarah Dussault, also known as “Sarah Fit,” who Marriott has brought on board to fine tune the different properties’ offerings.

Not every attendee or incentive program guest will want to take part, but for the 50 percent or more who do, it will likely be a very high priority, Dussault explained. Expect Millennial generation attendees to be particularly motivated, so much so, they’re likely to sign up for zumba and Pilates classes, especially if they’re held on the beach or on the outdoor pool deck.

This last point is important. The resort’s fitness center might look out on the ocean through floor-to-ceiling windows, but it’s still indoors and a fitness center. Practically every hotel and resort in the Western hemisphere has a fitness center. Health and wellness-savvy Millennials want the experience of being out in nature as much as possible.

CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort

A veritable playground for fitness at CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort.

Marriott has prepared a tip sheet and workout DVD for each resort, outlining how to stay healthy and active while attending a meeting at that property. Planners should make sure each interested attendee gets a copy of both. The DVDs, which were shot outdoors on property, make a good final-night going away gift.

Part-and-parcel with exercise is healthy eating while on the road attending a meeting. It’s as true in the Caribbean as in Chicago. So for as much thought as goes into SUP yoga, be sure an equal amount goes into making sure vegetarian,  gluten-free, and dairy-free options are available on menus and that for every vodka bar at a reception there’s a fresh juice bar and/or smoothie station as well.


Bruce Serlen

Bruce Serlen

Bruce Serlen is a veteran travel writer, based in New Jersey, who has written extensively on meetings management and hotel operations. Most recently, he was executive editor at Hotel Business.

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