Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's Raining - It's Pouring . . .

It rained here the other day – more accurately, it poured.
First time it rained here, with the exception of a brief wisp of a shower, probably for 30 days, maybe longer.  The streets were converted to a series of ponds and streams and even the sidewalks were treacherous if you weren’t paying attention.
I went, as I do every day, for my run first thing in the morning – 10K, rain or shine, snow, you name it, I run in it.
I was about mid-point through my run and I stopped for a traffic light.  Needless to say, I was soaked from head to toe, rain running off of my baseball cap, standing there in the pouring rain. 
I looked up to catch the eyes of a woman in her SUV.  She was looking quite warm and comfortable in her big SUV, but it was the look on her face that captured my attention, and I realized that I had become “that guy.”
I can clearly remember before I became a runner, which was about 7 years ago now, driving passed people out running in the rain or the snow and thinking, “what is that idiot thinking?”  “Was he (or she) not paying attention when their Mother first questioned them, when they were little, happily out playing in the rain, with the invariable question; “do you not have enough sense to know when to come in from the rain?” 
Apparently not.
But somewhere along the way, not recognizing it when it happened, I became addicted to running.  As I said, I run EVERY day, and if for some reason I cannot run, I feel like something is missing from my day, and I know what it is.
When I travel, for pleasure, I love to get up in the morning and go for a run first thing in the morning.  I use it in some cases to explore a new city, setting out in a different direction every day, discovering new areas, running passed that unique place that I find quite by accident, spotting a restaurant that I want to return to for dinner that evening.
But I also run when I’m on holiday so I can do what I really enjoy doing when on holiday – eating.  I love to explore the area restaurants and cafes and to enjoy the regions' cuisine.  And when appropriate, accompany that great meal with a nice glass of wine or beer.  I’m not that guy eating 3 leafs of lettuce and a carrot stick to stay in shape.  No way, not me.
On a trip to the South of France a couple of years ago, we ate our way through the many quaint little cities and villages throughout the area, and we spent 5 days in Paris, doing much of the same.
When we returned home, I actually found that I had lost 5 pounds.  Who does that while on vacation?
When I travel for business, I count on my run first thing in the morning.  It energizes me for what the day has in store for me.  And I prefer to run outside, wherever possible, regardless of the challenges that can involve.
However, that’s not always possible, which is why ANY and EVERY respectable Hotel should have a well-appointed Health Club – not some converted guestroom where they have thrown a treadmill and a bike.
To that point, imagine my disappointment when, on a trip to Seattle last year, I stayed at a very recently renovated, 1,500 room, 4 diamond property, that had just spent over $80 million on renovations and when I went to the Health Club what did I find, keeping in mind once again that this is a 1,500 room Hotel?
3 treadmills, 1 of which was out of order, 2 stationary bikes, 1 stair-master, 1 universal gym apparatus, a handful of free-weights, a couple of floor mats and a weigh scale.  HELLO !! 
I could not fathom that here we were in 2009, and there are still some Hoteliers that think fitness is some short-term fad, not to be taken seriously.
I don’t think it is universally understood that there are those of us who find this unacceptable, and, who will base their Hotel choice on, among other things, the ability to maintain their fitness routine while they are away. 
Do you have any idea how frustrating it is when you get up early in the morning to go and work out before your meeting, presentation, etc., only to find that the Health Club is ill-equipped, and, full when you arrive there at 6am when it opens?
Trust me when I tell you, we are not happy campers when this happens, and it happens ALL THE TIME in your Hotels, every day.  And most of the time, we don’t bother to complain; we just go stay somewhere else next time.
This is not a fad people, this is a life style choice, and it gains momentum every year, so if you do not as yet have a decent Health Club, for the size and level of Hotel that you are operating, put one in, better than your competitors and market it as a distinct point of differentiation.

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