Tailored nutrition is set to be at the centre of the offering at the £7m Elite Athlete Centre (EAC) and Hotel at Loughborough University when it is opened by Imago Venues this autumn.
The training facility is being designed to meet the unique needs of high-performance athletes while also offering meeting and event organisers the chance to use a unique venue built on a foundation of performance improvement and competitive success.
In addition to the wider event and sporting facilities on campus, the EAC will offer accommodation with altitude control, appropriate rest and relaxation facilities and the right nutrition to support not just athletes in training but also delegates looking to maximise their learning experience.
A fundamental principle of the operation will be the EAC’s recognition that there is a need to go beyond just the food being served if they are to meet the needs of their guests.
Chris McLeod, a PHD student in eating behaviour at Loughborough University, said: “A delegate might theoretically know what is right for them, but that is put under pressure by the sight of the average hotel breakfast buffet.
“To perform at their best, eating behaviour and food psychology are as important as the nutritional values and ingredients in the food itself. We can better influence their choices by making the right foods available and accessible.
“It is less a matter of control or force but more a case of support by directing behaviour in the right direction. Ultimately the choices are their own, but we can help by giving them the best possible options in the first place.”
The EAC team is working with Sport England and English Institute of Sport, as well as UK Sport, which is funding £1m of the build cost as part of its £200m plan to invest in areas hosting the next 10 years of international sporting events, starting in 2020.
Kath Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian and chair of UK Sport, commented: “UK Sport is a world leader in the development of elite athletes and I am delighted that Loughborough is continuing to play a fundamental role in the advancement of top level sport.
“This investment will create a unique facility that will be of huge benefit to all involved. In particular, the decision to focus on nutrition will be key, as it is such a fundamental building block when it comes to successful performance.”
Kay England, chief executive of Imago Venues, added: “As the operators of the EAC, the Imago Venues’ team will face challenges previously unknown to the hospitality sector.
“However, much like the athletes using the facilities our team are amongst the elite in their own field and relish the opportunity to deliver something unique in the market. We are already seeing high levels of interest from a variety of groups and individuals looking to use the EAC.
“From the sales and front of house, through to operations and catering teams, we recognise that a customer centric approach – which we are already known for in our other properties – will be fundamental to the success of the EAC.”