Headlines in publications as varied as The Economist and The Daily Telegraph have declared cycling the new golf, and the stats bear things out: According to USA Cycling, the number of people taking out a licence — and we are not talking about Sunday cyclists here, but those passionate enough about the expensive pastime to take out a licence to participate in the organization’s 3,000 races and fun rides across America — increased 76 per cent between 2002 and 2013.
Now, high-end boutique hotels are recognizing the allure of the hardcore cycling market. Take the Bespoke Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz., a four-room boutique hotel that features the city’s only “artisan, steel, boutique bicycle shop.” Opened three years ago by Kate Hennen and Rob Taynton, the property offers guests complimentary use of its fleet of high-end, hand-built British Pashley city bikes, perfect for zooming across the resort-filled Phoenix suburb or exploring downtown Scottsdale.
“We were inspired when we were in France and doing a bike tour, just the two of us, going from hotel to hotel, and we found that a ton of hotels in Europe are super bike-friendly,” says Hennen, who notes that the property also offers high-end customized road bikes and its parking area includes a rash of bike racks. “Every year, the clientele base just gets better and larger. Right now, we have four couples here this week who are riding every day, but we also have a lot of single riders that stay for days.”
The cycling-friendly trend is quickly spreading across North America. In Seattle, Hotel Five offers bicycles to guests as part of Kimpton Hotels’ “commitment to healthy travel.”
In New York, The Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side offers posh Republic bikes made especially for the hotel (complete with monogrammed bells and the option of a gourmet picnic basket with food by Jean-Georges Vongerichten). And in Austin, Tex., the Heywood Hotel can accommodate cyclists of all stripes, with four-gear city bikes, helmets, locks and a selection of maps to explore the cycling-friendly hipster enclave.
But it’s a spot on the other side of the world that’s truly garnered attention. The Hotel Cycle, part of the Onomichi U2 complex in Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture, not only boasts a bike shop featuring the world’s leading bicycle manufacturers, including Giant, it’s also located at the start of the 70-kilometre Shimanami Kaido cycle path, a lively route that features a series of bridges connecting the mainland to the seven islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
The resort is also the only “cycle-through” facility in Japan: You can do nearly everything in the hotel while still on your bike, from checking in to buying drinks and snacks at the Yard Café.
With amenities like these, trading in 14 clubs for two wheels makes a lot of sense.