Fitness spaces are an important part of a hotel’s value system: Matt Aspiotis Morley [Video]
As guests continue seeking higher ethical and sustainability standards, owners will need their hotel gyms to reflect the core values of the brand, says Matt Aspiotis Morley, Founder of Biofit.
He also runs Biofilico, a boutique design studio for interiors and brands with a wellness and environmental focus.
On the sidelines of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Barcelona, Matt spoke exclusively to TOPHOTELNEWS about how functional fitness spaces are an important part of a hotel’s value system.
Turning a fitness passion to profession
Matt: I come from a hotel or, rather, a real estate development background. So, we used to build hotels, residencies, lifestyle amenities, pool clubs, sports clubs, etc. I was in-house with a real estate developer and I have been with them for the last eight years.
In parallel with that was this burning passion and interest in the world of fitness. It got to the point where I was turning up for meetings with sports gear still on underneath and mud under my fingers from having been outside, moving around on a grass field.
I thought, “You know what? This can’t go on any longer. I need to listen to this other voice in me,” which is I really want to help people stay fit, get healthy and live happier, longer lives. I know about building environments or indoor environments. So, what happens when you try and connect those two?
Finally, I managed to find a way that I can work with my passion, which is essentially helping people to stay healthy even when they’re traveling and creating interior spaces that can facilitate that.
Functional fitness spaces an important part of a hotel’s value system
Matt: You have a huge trend, or a number of huge trends, which I think are important to understand. One of them is the application of natural design and how that can be integrated into your built environment to create a space that is healthier and cleaner. The end result is a space that is positive, uplifting, reducing stress levels and to generally create a memorable experience. That typically has been used in places like offices.
So that’s been happening over there, whilst hotel gyms have been stagnating. I think there’s some innovation that can find a home in the hotel market. I bring what we call biophilic design, which is working with nature and bringing it into that gym space. So, the environment itself becomes functional and has a positive impact on the user while they’re in there and working out.
The added benefit to that is you offer to the guest a value system that people are increasingly connecting with. That’s the big wave that’s coming — this new generation of hotel guests who do care about the planet and who will ask, “Well, why have we got so much plastic? Why am I working out on plastic and metal machines?”
How to stay true to a hotel brand when driving gym design?
Matt: The big challenge is always around how do you then convince a hotel owner? What I’ve found is that as the health and fitness lifestyle becomes more and more common amongst certain demographics, I think that demand for such bespoke gym designs will expand.
At the moment, hotel groups that have an existing connection between their brand and nature often have a question mark in their minds around how they should do a gym. If they care about sustainability, if they care about nature and wildlife, what does that mean in terms of their gym offer? I think many people, or many brands, perhaps, haven’t yet come up with a satisfactory solution.
So, I would then step into the fray and say there are other ways of doing things. We can think about the materials we use, the type of equipment, what the equipment is made of, how much of it there is, how much space there is. You can actually move your body in empty space, or do stretching in an empty space.
A hotel gym doesn’t necessarily need to be a row of high-tech equipment with plasma screens, where you can check Facebook or watch TV. I think there are other ways that you can offer a facility that ticks enough boxes for guests, whilst also staying true to a brand or a concept that’s driving the overall design for that property.
Thoughts on TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR
Matt: Certainly, the main thing that I would take away is that it’s a really sensible and productive format in terms of being able to connect briefly with a large number of people. The timing is just right in terms of how much face time you have for each person. You are able to introduce yourself, listen to what the other person does, and quickly understand whether there’s any connection there now, or possibly at some later date. You can then stay in touch from there.
It’s just a really efficient way of moving through a wide range of people from the industry and making a whole bunch of connections that, as I say, maybe useful today, or maybe useful in a year’s time, you just don’t know. But it’s all about expanding a network and presenting a happy face and hoping that you are able to collaborate with some or all of the people in the room.
Matt Aspiotis Morley was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Barcelona 2019. To attend, address or sponsor our boutique hospitality networking events around the world, contact TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.