Equal measures

On-trend fitness brand Equinox opens its first hotel in New York – and has taken spa just as seriously as it does its workouts. We take a closer look at the ever-so-cool concept

Equinox is known for its empire of 100 cooler-than-cool fitness clubs around the world, which attract a hip, high-profile clientele. So there was a flurry of excitement when the on-trend brand announced its intention to create a hotel.

Equinox Hotel at 35 Hudson Yards in New York City burst onto the scene mid-July, complete with a 60,000sq ft gym (naturally) with indoor and outdoor pools, a SoulCycle studio, a gourmet restaurant and a 27,000sq ft spa to cater for guests staying in its 200-plus bedrooms and members – who reportedly include the likes of Kanye West and the Kardashians. Rooms start at around US$700 (€541, £495) a night.

Workouts are obviously par for the course, and up to 135 weekly classes are on offer, as well as 100 personal trainers. But while staying at the hotel, Equinox is encouraging guests to rest with a number of in-room amenities focused on sleep health. CEO Christopher Norton, known previously for managing Four Seasons hotels and heading up its Spa Task Force (see SB10/4 p20), told The New York Times: “A lot of hotels are trying to get into wellness-fitness, but we’re the only fitness company going into hotels at this scale. They’re putting treadmills in rooms, pull-up bars in bathrooms, but we believe that fitness happens in the club and the room is for regeneration.”

Carefully considered spa
It’s a thoughtful approach for the brand. And, at first glance, it’s difficult not to be impressed by its carefully curated hotel spa concept either. Industry consultant Tracy Lee, who was hired by Equinox to develop the offering, says: “Equinox is committed to ensuring its spas are on an equal footing with its core competency of fitness and lifestyle, and that every aspect of the spa experience is as carefully considered as its gyms”.

Lee would perhaps be forgiven for building a concept on the back of its successful gym spas, which are present in over 80 Equinox fitness clubs and were once overseen by industry figure Amanda Al-Masri (see SB17/3 p40). Yet she insists this most definitely was not the case. “Creating an experience that strongly differentiated the Equinox hotel spas from the Equinox gym spas was a central focus of our effort,” she says. “This is not a pampering spa, but a results-oriented experience that is focused on the best in bodywork and skincare with recovery, regeneration and mental wellbeing embedded throughout.”

Equinox is looking to “redefine the art and science of regeneration” with its new hotel spa. The stylish grey, yet inviting, interiors are the work of Joyce Wang, who’s making a name for herself in hospitality circles with operators such as Mandarin Oriental. Facilities include E.scape relaxation pods, an infrared sauna, saltwater lap pool, hot and cold plunges and a number of treatment rooms.
Drawing from deep tissue, craniosacral, Thai, shiatsu, reflexology and breathwork, a selection of massage and bodywork sessions have been created to “promote proper body alignment and energy balance… to achieve peak performance”. The signature E.Massage costs US$245 (€221, £202) for a fully customised 60 minutes, or US$335 (€302, £276) for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, signature facials have been developed by celebrity therapist Thuyen Nguyen and dermatologist Dr Macrene Alexiades. Nguyen is the man behind FaceXercise, a rejuvenating ‘facial workout’ where speedy, yet precise, manual massage and lymph drainage techniques are used for an instant lift and to boost muscle tone. Prices start at US$296 (€267, £244) for 60 minutes, but for an extra US$100 or more, guests can pay for the creator himself to perform the treatment.

Menu innovations
Other menu innovations include what Equinox refers to as quantum harmonics – a sound therapy session on Gharieni’s Spa Wave table, which uses computer-controlled acoustic and vibrational therapy to train the brain to relax. It’s said to help “achieve the equivalent of three hours sleep in 30 minutes”. There’s also targeted cryotherapy to reduce cellulite, as well as nutrient and vitamin IV drips to help fight fatigue, recover from a workout or kick-start fat burning.

Some of these are offered as “add-on amplifiers”, which feature heavily throughout the menu. A 30-minute quantum harmonics session costs US$60 (€54, £49), for example, while a 15-minute cryo spot session is US$65 (€59, £54). Other treatments are combined for “integrated circuits”, such as the 90-minute Best Face Forward – which includes a FaceXercise Ultimate Facial; micro jet technology to exfoliate, oxygenate and infuse the skin with nutrients; and LED light therapy to promote cellular healing and boost collagen production – priced at US$660 (€595, £544).

Lee concludes: “I’m a fitness enthusiast and Equinox is a brand that suits me personally in life and travel. I want to stay in places that rank health and wellbeing at the same level of importance as all other hospitality elements. Equinox Hotels is doing that. It’s offering a full integration of health, fitness, whole mind and body wellness, where the spa is not approached with an à la carte mentality.”

She confirms her consultancy, TLee Spas, is currently working on the next Equinox Hotel in Los Angeles. And the group itself says additional hotels are planned in Santa Clara, Seattle, Chicago and Houston over the next four years.

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Sparcstudio offers a bespoke and comprehensive design service with real attention to detail. Logical and inspiring space planning forms the bedrock of all Sparcstudio projects.
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