New hotel aims to be perfect fit for fitness crowd

Major hotel chains have long tried to appeal to health-conscious travelers by putting fruit and bran muffins in the breakfast buffet, handing out maps to nearby walking paths or offering access to a hotel gym, among other tactics.

InterContinental Hotels Group, one of the world's largest hotel companies, is going a step further by investing at least $150 million to launch a chain of hotels specifically aimed at fitness-minded travelers. Among other things, the hotels plan to put exercise equipment in each room — including a coat rack that doubles as a pull-up bar — and offer hotel gyms with group exercise classes.

The new inns, dubbed Even hotels, will also serve "natural, fresh, fit and energizing meals," including mini-smoothies in the morning, according to the company. The group hopes to open 100 hotels in the next five years by converting existing hotels.

The new chain is designed to appeal to the 40 percent of the traveling public — or 17 million Americans — who say a healthy lifestyle is important to them, said Christian Hempell, vice president of new business development for InterContinental.

He said the hotels will appeal to travelers who want "a balanced lifestyle. They just want it to be part of their daily life."

And how much will travelers pay to stay at an Even hotel? Hempell declined to disclose rates but said they would be comparable to those at Courtyard or Hampton Inn hotels, whose rates range from $119 to almost $300, depending on the location and amenities. Even hotels plans to announce the locations later this year.

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