Incredible Wellness Destinations: Ed Baten Of W Philadelphia On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination

Incredible Wellness Destinations: Ed Baten Of W Philadelphia On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination


Ask locals for restaurant recommendations and pick a spot off their list that you would not typically gravitate towards. When I was traveling in Sao Paulo, I was told that Figueira Rubaiyat was one of the best spots in town for feijoada. I still think about that dining experience to this day.

The pandemic has shaped the way we travel and live, with a growing trend leaning towards health, wellness, and a holistic lifestyle. More than ever, individuals are seeking not just getaways, but immersive wellness retreats that help rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul. Destinations that provide a serene environment, unique wellness offerings, and an unparalleled experience are in great demand. In this interview series, we are talking to property owners and hospitality companies who are at the helm of these wellness havens. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ed Baten.

Ed Baten is the Complex General Manager of W Philadelphia, a luxury hotel in Center City. Spending nearly three decades with Starwood and Marriott International, Ed joined the W Philadelphia team ahead of its 2021 opening. During his Marriott tenure, Ed has served as a driven leader of high-performance teams, which led to overseeing some of the brand’s most high-profile properties including W Chicago, W New York — Times Square, and W Washington, D.C. Now calling Philadelphia home for the last five years, Ed has the daily pleasure of managing, mentoring, and inspiring the W Philadelphia team, providing guests and locals with a luxurious and serene hotel and spa experience in the heart of the city.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Igrew up in Washington, D.C., and am a proud Washingtonian. I spent my childhood summers in Wilson, NC with my aunt and uncle. They took me on my first flight when I was six years old. That trip to Denver, CO sparked my lifelong love for travel.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My career in hospitality started with a summer internship before my freshman year at Howard University. A family friend who was the general manager of a Days Inn in Arlington, VA offered me the opportunity to work as a guest service agent for the summer. This shifted into a part-time job once I started my freshman year. Throughout my time in school, I did not think my future career would be in hospitality, however, 30 years later, I can’t imagine working in a different field.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

This is a difficult question to answer because there have been many people who have helped me grow over the years. One of them was my former general manager, Bill Petrella. I spent two years working at his side. He led by example, guiding and pushing me beyond what I thought was doable. I would not be the manager I am today without his mentorship.

It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

I was very fortunate to have a career that accelerated quickly, growing into a senior role at a young age. As a result, my youth sometimes got in my way. I had a boss who was much older than I was and he didn’t appreciate me making a point to show that I was “right”. This almost got me fired. Luckily, with the guidance of my colleagues at the time, I learned to recognize moments when respect and building rapport with team members takes precedence over being right.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

It’s hard to top the Golden Rule! I have tried to embrace this simple principle with everyone. Treat others the way you want to be treated. It resonates with me because this basic practice makes the world a much better place.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am currently trying to get a DEAI program off the ground that will help Philadelphia residents best prepare to participate in all of the economic opportunities that will be available in 2026 when Philadelphia hosts the World Cup and celebrates the 250th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about wellness destinations. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or personal experience, why do you think travel can lead to better wellness? Can you share a story?

Travel changes our state of being. It opens us up to new possibilities and through experience we can be transported to new worlds. I always enjoy learning of guests who are committed to staying at W Philadelphia each time they visit the city. It reminds me of our team’s role of providing both comfort and new experiences to guests during their stay.

What are a few things that distinguish your property from thousands of wellness properties around the world?

It’s rare to find a true getaway in the center of a vibrant metropolis. W Philadelphia provides a space for utmost wellness and peak relaxation in one of the largest cities in the country. A guest’s wellness journey might start at our restorative AWAY Spa, which offers luxury beauty treatments, including classics like the Detox Facial and De-Stress Massage to more unique wellness experiences like IV Hydration, a private Sound Bath Treatment, and a guided running tour in partnership with The Lab. Additional programs and experiences currently available this winter include the locally loved Hydroga class which is water yoga in our outdoor, heated pool, as well as the Cryo Cold Plunge Cabana experience, a 30-minute session to alternate between cold plunge and heated pool. Our team is constantly raising the bar and providing guests with new wellness experiences that are both fun and beneficial to the body and mind — and there is certainly an experience for everyone.

What type of experience do you want your visitors to have when they visit?

We want each experience to be tailored to our guests’ interests and the goals of their stay. Whether in search of a heated pool to swim laps, a collagen-infused cocktail to restore energy and vibrancy, or the best view of the city in town, the team at W Philadelphia provides liberated luxury, listening to guests on how to best provide an experience best suited for their time at the hotel.

What makes your property a beautiful escape for a body and mind recharge?

We have several venues in our hotel to escape and recharge. In addition to AWAY Spa, other spaces like our Secret Garden, known for its hedge walls, illuminated sculptures, and views of City Hall, and our private WET Deck cabanas create a true sense of an urban oasis. Lastly, I will let you in on one of my favorite spots on property that doesn’t often get the attention I think it deserves: found through our FIT Gym, our outdoor FIT Deck with fireplace is an idyllic space for meditation, yoga or to enjoy some fresh air after your workout.

Can you share any transformative stories or testimonials from guests who visited your property?

One guest who is a Philadelphia local, has made it a tradition to stay at W Philadelphia each year for their birthday. They’ve shared that they only live five minutes away yet they look forward to this annual celebratory staycation as the W Philadelphia and AWAY Spa experience is the perfect way to start their next year.

Why do you think the experience you offer is so needed nowadays?

Life’s pressures and demands are great. Everyone needs an escape. Our hotel is the perfect place for tranquility, well positioned for those interested in exploration and discovery of what Philadelphia has to offer.

Do you think travel enhances our mindfulness, optimism, or sense of gratitude? How? Can you please explain with an example or story?

Travel provides people an opportunity to connect with both themselves and others in a new place. The rewarding experience of doing something new paired with the beauty of discovery and relaxation is good for the soul, with travelers returning home a bit more open-minded and optimistic. Our wellness offerings at W Philadelphia only enhance these takeaways, creating space for guests to dedicate time for themselves.

What are your “5 Habits You Should Develop In Order Make Travel Into An Opportunity For Wellness & Personal Growth?”

1 . Spark a conversation with a stranger. Whether at our first-floor bar and social space, Living Room, or in a Hydroga class, meeting people or even a simple hello while traveling goes far. And you never know who you will meet while at W Philadelphia. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with travelers from all walks of life. From an inspiring conversation with a King of a Ghanaian tribe to a chance encounter with a Hollywood actor whose wife, I learned, was a big fan of W’s signature scent — I learn something new from our guests every day.

2 . Ask locals for restaurant recommendations and pick a spot off their list that you would not typically gravitate towards. When I was traveling in Sao Paulo, I was told that Figueira Rubaiyat was one of the best spots in town for feijoada. I still think about that dining experience to this day.

3 . Avoid stacking your day with back-to-back plans if able — you never know where discovery in free time will take you. I once was in the Texas Hill Country on vacation with little planned for the day. This day turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip as my family and I stumbled upon Salt Lick- a BBQ restaurant where you could tour the kitchen and see meat being smoked on open pits. The food was amazing!

4 . If traveling with a partner or group, pick one activity that you’re excited about to enjoy alone. When I travel, I always try to wake up early one morning to enjoy a few hours to myself — whether visiting the pool at sunrise or going on a walk to explore the neighborhood, it is a great way to start the day.

5 . Incorporate movement into your travel routine — take the time to walk instead of Uber. Philadelphia is ranked among the nation’s most walkable cities, with W Philadelphia steps away from tranquil green spaces like Rittenhouse Square and some of the best restaurants in the city. Over the years, I have familiarized myself with much of what Center City has to offer by taking walks as breaks throughout my work day. A few spots I have discovered and regularly recommend to guests include Elixr — a locally-loved coffee shop that offers delicious seasonal blends — Good Dog for fantastic pub fare, and if you venture a bit farther to 3rd Street in Old City, you’ll find galleries, great vintage shops, and independent boutiques.

Based on your experience, where do you see the future of wellness travel heading in the next 5–10 years?

In my 25 years with W Hotels, I can tell you that wellness travel is not new — our guests have always sought out experiences to fuel their minds and bodies. What’s changed — and is changing — is the rise in the low- / no-alcohol movement. I think we will see a significant increase in zero-proof beverage offerings and experiences designed around adaptogenic and functional ingredients. We have already begun to embrace this with a wellness-focused beverage menu in our AWAY Spa, which features detox elixirs, locally produced kombucha, and low-abv collagen cocktails.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

I have been an admirer of Quincy Jones for many years. His ability to find ways to use his talent to connect people and overcome adversity has been an inspiration to me.

How can our readers further follow your work online?…Linked In?


Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at .

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