First of all, dedicated runners fall right in the demographic sweet spot that hotels are trying to attract – affluent, educated professionals. Second, runners are very loyal and look favorably on communities and properties that go out of their way to welcome them. Runners are quiet and non-polluting users of roadsides and we require few amenities. All we ask is for peace and quiet and an unobstructed roadway.
When I was jogging on the Shingle Creek Golf Course cart path (NOT the turf, spare me the angry e-mails, please) I was approached by at least three greens workers who told me that running on the course was forbidden. I’m not really sure why they didn’t want me there since it was 5:45 in the morning and I wasn’t disturbing anyone. I continued on my merry way and thankfully none of them cared enough to alert security.
I loped along until I found an unmarked brick path and decided to see where it went. The path led to a clearly marked nature trail (see sign above for a clue into what hoteliers think of the intelligence of their guests. Are they insane? Who is going to approach an alligator or poisonous snake??!!). This dirt road was perfect – off the beaten path, laid out through beautiful woods and much cooler than on the paved cart course.
It seems to me that hotel owners could easily market to runners by simply adding a small trail alongside their cart course and welcoming joggers. My guess is that one of the reasons golf courses don’t want runners is because they run on the grass and not on the trails. That’s because the cart paths are paved from unforgiving materials. Asphalt or packed earth would be nice and inexpensive, but cement and bricks don’t give at all and are hell on baby boomers’ aging knees and lower backs. Mileage markers would be great for runners who don’t use the Nike Plus system and a water fountain at the end would be heaven.
The Celebration Hotel in Celebration, Florida has an incredibly beautiful boardwalk trail behind it and it’s one of my favorite running spots. I’m pretty sure it was built by the city and not the hotel but needless to say, I’m much more likely to book a room there when business takes me to Central Florida. It wouldn’t be expensive or difficult for other hotels to benefit from this simple-to-add amenity.