Few industries have evolved more in the past 18 months than tourism and hospitality. And within hospitality, the wellness segment has witnessed an explosion of new options and offerings for travelers, especially with the luxury market. As traveler priorities have shifted since the pandemic broke in 2019, safety has become king. And a substantial byproduct of safety has been the focus on health and wellness: physical, mental, spiritual.
Wellness, of course, is hardly new within the hospitality industry. The very name conjures up obligatory images of chichi spas, healing rocks, organic smoothies, and ubiquitous nature trails. And while those wellness offerings are mainstays, tried and true, still beloved and sought-out by virtually everyone, new offerings and options have emerged that signal a brand new day in wellness. The following provide some insight into where the future of the segment is heading.
Wellness tourism is projected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 7.3% over the next five years.(MarketWatch)
Now more than ever we think about the air that we breathe—and where we want to breathe it. Travelers are seeking to spend more time outdoors to take in fresh, uncontaminated air. But a focus on indoor air has emerged in the industry, as well. After all, guests still spend a great deal of time in their rooms or in restaurants or lobbies, even in outdoor-centric destinations. Resorts and hotels have been quick to add new, advanced filter technologies that actually capture and eliminate harmful particles emitted through breathing. This has become a key amenity to lure travelers who want to prioritize safety.
INCREASED NATURE ASSETS
The “nature economy” is soaring like never before, according to the Global Wellness Institute’s, Thierry Malleret. And it follows that a nature-first mindset with resorts and hoteliers is just good business. Recognizing consumer demand (and opportunity), savvy brands are seeking ways to monetize new or expanded multi-generational nature offerings across key demographics. In addition to hiking and walking trails and green spaces, there has been a rise in more dynamic offerings within resorts, including the addition of thrilling zip lines, ATV trails, wildlife-viewing outposts, and overnight guided wilderness excursions.
VIRTUAL WORKOUTS & TRAINING
If it works for office meetings and brainstorm sessions, why not the gym? And depending on where you travel, both home or abroad, many gyms now have limited capacity, or none at all. Within the luxury segment, many resorts and hotels offer virtual training and aerobic classes—or they have partnered with nearby gyms that offer virtual classes. Not only is this a nice perk for hoteliers to offer guests, but it has unlimited capacity, meaning the number of guests who can participate is not bound by group size. Anyone can get online and join the session. This eliminates that stress and worry travelers have about staying fit and committed to a workout regimen while away from home.
This is a high-end niche in the international luxury segment—and quite pricey, often costing upwards of $20K. The premise is to allow the more adventurous and brave-hearted to take wellness travel to the outer, often dicey, limits of what’s been provided in the past. It essentially allows affluent travelers to get out of their comfort zone, literally and metaphorically, to embark on customized excursions into the forbidding or unknown: diving with sharks, traversing polar climes (glacial hiking), camping in a virgin jungle, mountain climbing at 15,000 feet and up, rafting the Amazon, and the like. Although certainly not for everyone, it is expanding the realm of what wellness travel means.
Why make wellness an occasional resort experience when you can realize a lifestyle centered around it? A major industry shift the past two years has been the emergence of luxury “wellness communities” offering the enticing promise of an all-encompassing lifestyle that immerses families in health, wellness, and all things good for mind, body, and soul. These communities tend to be holistic in approach and committed to a more consciously natural, organic, and active living experience. The focus is less on traditional, well-appointed amenities and more on wellness features and activities: outdoor recreation, salt pools, freshwater immersion lagoons, community farms, meditation centers, fruit/juice cafes, and the like. Some even offer on-site physicians, fitness gurus, nutritional experts, and lifestyle coaches.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO WELLNESS
One thing is certain, wellness is not a reactionary phase or a passing trend in the affluent market. It is here to stay. And with more and more families becoming proactive about their health and well-being, look for hotels and resorts to come up with ever-new offerings that expand the boundaries of just what holistic wellness entails. To paraphrase Thierry Malleret, wellness is the big winner in the post-pandemic era, it is part of the “great re-set” in which travelers prioritize wellness and seek out new outlets that are creative and immersive, in natural environments that are “more inclusive, more equitable, and more respectful of Mother Nature.”
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