On Vacation, Millennials Stay Fit and Strike a Pose for Instagram

DALLAS—Staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a vital part of vacations for 79% of travelers, with young adults leading the charge, according to a Hotels.com Activations Survey of 8,400 adults across 29 countries.

“Travelers of all ages are important to us, but the next generation is starting to travel more and more. It’s imperative to understand what is important to a consumer regarding their travel needs,” said Josh Belkin, VP and GM for Hotels.com North America. “It’s great to see that millennials are starting to place higher importance on their well-being, and Hotels.com wanted to give a few recommendations on fun vacation ideas to help them stay fit while traveling.”

About 80% of millennials ranging from 18-35 years old would like to stay active during their vacation, while only 66% of baby boomers want the same, the findings showed. In addition, more than half (59%) of travelers under the age of 35 claim body positive celebrities and social media “fitfluencers” are the main inspiration for holiday workouts.

“As we’ve seen throughout the years in many facets of daily life, the millennial generation is becoming increasingly health conscious, so it is no surprise that this is also being reflected in their travel interests,” he said.

This digitally native generation will also be more inclined to share their workouts or wellness moments in the form of “welfies”—workout selfies—on Instagram, Snapchat and the like. Hoteliers have a prime opportunity to make their fitness and health-oriented offerings stand out in terms of content and aesthetics.

“They are sharing their progress and a variety of activities they’re doing to stay fit. This gives properties that offer unique and noteworthy fitness opportunities a chance to shine and share what sets them apart. It’s important to highlight amenities that are on trend for millennials,” said Belkin. “They want a memorable experience from their stay. Fitness doesn’t have to be boring. There are many different activities that travelers can indulge in and share on social media such as hiking with a great view, yoga in an unusual place, swimming laps in a stunning rooftop pool or biking through vineyards to name a few. These unique and interesting fitness opportunities also bring people together. Traveling often leads to meeting new people, and working out together is a great way to get to know your fellow explorers—some 27% of respondents noted they use exercise to meet new people.”

Hotels are upping the ante in terms of fitness offerings and curating new programming for wellness-minded travelers. With millennials choosing hotels based on how the property will help them keep fit while on vacation, properties are offering fitness perks inclusive of their stay, from access to fitness gear and stunning gym views to fitness concierge services, noted Belkin.

“Guests are now seeking amenities to stay active more than ever, and with 80% of 18-35 year olds considering fitness a top priority when traveling, it’s important for hoteliers to keep up with active travelers,” he said. “After thorough research of locations on our website, our team has identified a number of hotels and properties throughout the world that we feel fit this niche area of travel. Some of these properties include 1711 Ti Sana Detox Retreat & Spa in Milan; Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Park Hyatt Tokyo in Tokyo; and The Westin Verasa in Napa, CA.

Food & beverage is part of a fit lifestyle, too. However, Belkin explained that fitness is even more important to this demographic.

“It’s easy to overindulge on food when on vacation and that’s why it’s even more important to have the opportunity and facilities to get a good workout,” he said. “In fact, 42% of millennial travelers are happy to give up top-notch food and 38% will give up relaxation in exchange for their fitness fix on vacation.”

Belkin believes fitness and traveling are becoming compatible for many leisure and business travelers, and the demand for exceptional fitness experiences from accommodations has reached an ultimate high.

When asked what amenities are most important to complete their fitness travel experience, the survey found that guests want their “activacations” to offer healthy food menus (25%), personal trainers (20%) and wearable fitness tech (17%). Many even noted that they would be willing to give up high-end food (42%), relaxing (38%), sightseeing (32%) and alcohol (24%).

“Travelers are now seeking to fill their vacation time off with action-packed, celebrity-inspired activations, seeking top-notch fitness facilities and nearby opportunities for activities including hiking, mountaineering, swimming and hot yoga,” he said. “Millennials have incredible spending power right now and it’s only going to continue to rise. More importantly, they choose to spend on experiences, not stuff, making catering to them critical. However, it’s equally important not to forget about or alienate other generations.”