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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 1 year ago

Hotel gets even with millennials

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Even hotels target younger travelers with fitness and food.

A renovated and rebranded Holiday Inn in east Manatee County hopes its product is even better.

So much better that the new hotel, from British hospitality giant Intercontinental Hotel Group, plans to target the younger generation of travelers with a host of wellness-focused features and offerings. The new brand is named Even. A $6 million project, it reopened in early January, and is the first Even location the Southeast for IHG. “This is exciting for us,” said Rob Ferguson, corporate director of sales for the hotel. “(IHG) wants us to be the showcase hotel” for the brand.

Including the east Manatee County location, in Lakewood Ranch, IHG has six Even hotels nationwide. Another 12 are scheduled to open in 2018.

The Even concept stems from the idea that the hotel is an “Even better” place to stay, eat or relax. Core concepts are to keep active, eat well, rest easy and accomplish more, say hotel officials.

Much of the concept is focused on fitness. “Our big hook is there's workout equipment in every room,” Ferguson says, noting there are yoga mats and balls, strength training equipment, 18 television channels of exercise videos and a 50-page do-it-yourself workout binder in each room.

Fitness is just one component. The brand's mantra is to meet the wellness expectations of each patron, whether that means a yoga workout or eating a kale salad with a specialty mixed drink. The Cork and Kale dining area offers sit-down breakfast, lunch and dinner, which features menu items such as green apple French toast, a kale salad with medjool dates and hazelnuts, shrimp tacos, seared salmon or a flourless chocolate cake. There's also a “grab-and-go” section, where patrons can get daily made items or fresh-squeezed orange juice when the kitchen is closed.

The 128-room Holiday Inn, which opened in 2001, was Lakewood Ranch's first hotel. The Steinbrenner family, based in Tampa and owners of the New York Yankees, developed the original hotel, part of a small group of properties the family has built statewide the last 15 years.

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