For runners who travel to international major marathons, finding comfortable accommodation and a supportive atmosphere on arrival can help alleviate the pre-race stresses of long-haul travel. One hospitality provider – the Westin Hotel & Resorts – understands the challenges runners can face and has partnered with the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) during marathon weekends. This is the first multi-year hospitality collaboration established to support runners and their guests.
The Westin is part of Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of 30 hotel brands and is known for its well-established health and wellness programs. The brand’s ‘Six Pillars of Well-Being’ — Sleep Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Feel Well, Work Well, and Play Well — is a natural fit for the new partnership with AbbottWMM, that stages six major marathons that make up the iconic and much coveted Six Star series.
The IMPACT team was fortunate to experience this partnership first-hand during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon weekend, where we stayed at the Westin’s flagship hotel, the Westin Chicago River North. The Chicago Marathon was the fifth race in the 2023 series calendar – preceding it was the Tokyo Marathon, B.A.A. Boston Marathon, TCS London Marathon, with the final race in November, the TCS New York City Marathon.
With thousands of runners travelling to international marathons annually, the Westin knows this is a valuable and lucrative market.
“For decades, travel has been a fundamental part of running, with runners selecting destinations and planning travel around coveted milestone races. Westin is a brand that has always been rooted in enhancing guests’ well-being and enabling them to stay active while traveling,” said Catherine Flint, Senior Director, Global Brand Management, Westin Hotels & Resorts.
At a panel session during the Chicago Marathon Abbott Health & Fitness Expo on race weekend, Nike trainer and athlete, Joe Holder stressed the importance of having a hotel that can engage with its guests.
“Having amenities set up before I arrive means less stress for me. Knowing I have fitness and recovery kits in my room saves me having to travel with them and having access to services like massage and recovery areas is also important. You don’t have to convince people of these concepts if you curate them as it takes the pressure off me when I am travelling,” he says.
Westin hotels including the Chicago Westin River North are equipped with fitness studios, but in addition on marathon weekends they have a Marathon Zone where runners can experience first-hand their recovery products and discuss fitness and nutrition with RunWestin Concierges.
On arrival, we were able to relax and experience the massage and compression products, a perfect way to loosen the tense muscles after travelling. Available at all Westin hotels — not just during marathon weekends — are the WestinWORKOUT® Gear Lending kits. These feature full body workout essentials from Bala, such as bangle weights, resistance bands, balance blocks, and a Westin branded yoga mat. The Hyperice recovery kit includes a hand-held massager and compression leg sleeves ideal to help post-race recovery. These can be enjoyed in the comfort of your hotel room.
The Gear Lending program has been central to the Westin’s wellness mission for decades, but the growing demand for more in-home products and the onset of the new partnership with AbbottWMM, grew a need to expand the program.
“As strength training and recovery have evolved into essential wellness rituals, we’ve reimagined our beloved program to be more versatile and partnered with cutting-edge brands that help motivate and inspire guests to reach their full potential,” said Jennifer Connell, Global Brand Leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts and Vice President, Distinctive Premium Brands, Marriott International.
On marathon weekends runners can enjoy healthy snacks and beverages in the Westin Marathon Zone from the brand’s Eat Well menu that focuses on nutritious and well-balanced options. On marathon days, Eat Well snack packs are available for supporters as well as convenient grab-and-go items for runners.
Supporters are also well taken care of with facilities to create posters and cow bells to cheer everyone on the course.
For those whose stay coincides with their Sixth Star race the Westin does put out the red carpet. RunWestin Concierges host pre-guided shakeout runs, runners who show their Six Star finisher bib will be gifted with a complimentary Hyperice Hypersphere Mini and Bala resistance bands (available on a first-come, first-serve basis), and after the race finishers are invited to enjoy celebratory beverages and Eat Well bites, which we enjoyed at the comfortable 320 RiverBar at the Chicago hotel.
In addition to having the recovery products in your hotel room, the Westin’s Sleep Well program features the brand’s signature Heavenly® Bed, and Lavender Balm. We also tried the soothing chamomile tea and the relaxing bath salts, and the eye pads and sleep masks were very welcome both after a day sightseeing, and after running 42.2km!
Both the Westin and AbbottWMM know that travel is challenging.
“Participating in a marathon while traveling miles away from your routine requires extra levels of support,” said Dawna Stone, Chief Executive Officer, Abbott World Marathon Majors. “We are thrilled to be joining forces with Westin Hotels & Resorts to enhance the experience of runners, as well as all race travelers during their training and recovery.”
Holder says travel shouldn’t be a luxury. “Luxury isn’t paying more for things: it’s saving time. It’s focusing on how help people sleep better and offering them activities. If the hotel has everything set up for me before I arrive, if they care for me and create a relationship with me, I will keep coming back.”