After a year like 2020, everyone wants to feel well again. Fortunately for those ready – and able – to travel, the post-pandemic era of wellness tourism has arrived.
In a recent piece in Spa Executive on the future of wellness tourism, Anne Dimon, President & CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association, noted that the industry not only weathered the pandemic but emerged stronger from it, with the concept of personal health now the “new norm” for many people, and hospitality providers expected to see more demand “not only from those new to wellness living, but from those who want to position ‘good health’ as a lifestyle priority, but may not know where to begin.”
There is much for wellness seekers to experience out there, as well as for hotels, resorts and travel operators to capitalize on. According to a recent report from McKinsey & Company on the future of the wellness market, a survey of roughly 7,500 consumers in six countries identified better health, fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep, and mindfulness as wellness categories of most interest. Meanwhile, the Global Wellness Institute has estimated that the wellness tourism market will reach $919 billion by 2022, noting that world travelers made 830 million international and domestic wellness trips in 2017 when the market was just $639 billion.
Innovation and creative thinking are everywhere in restorative travel: Luxury automaker Lexus recently put pedal to the mental, as it were, elevating the great American road trip with “Retreats in Motion” to “meet the growing need for deeper, meaningful experiences that promote wellbeing.” Guests seated behind the wheel of a new 2021 Lexus IS sport sedan travel on customized routes between hotel partners like XV Beacon in Boston and Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod, with curated wellness content including in-vehicle sound bath and guided breathwork. And in Manhattan, Andaz 5th Avenue has debuted seven new Wellness Suites with features focused on the wellness landmarks of “feel,” “fuel” and “function,” including a Tibetan Singing Bowl for meditation; Wellness RX Mini-Bar with products such as Immunity gum from Mighty Gum and functional food snack packs from Gwell; and a Lululemon Mirror Gym with complimentary resistance bands, yoga mat, and more.
Wellness travel trends highlighted by Dimon included “more connection with nature” and “regenerative travel,” with a plant-your-own-tree program at Fivelements Retreat in Bali offered as a successful example of the latter. Challenges were seen as well, not least “growing competition” as more properties, with or without spas, enter the wellness space. Indeed, as observed by McKinsey & Co.: “[The] wellness market is getting increasingly crowded, creating the need to be strategic about where and how companies compete.”
Among wellness travel-related strategies we’d be remiss not to mention:
- Rather than suspend all therapeutic services during the pandemic, Carillon Miami Wellness Resort embraced technology, introducing new result-driven touchless wellness offerings at its 70,000 square-foot spa. Touchless services include the Prism Light Pod using red light therapy to promote muscle recovery and reduce inflammation and joint pain; and the VEMI (Virboacoustic Electro Magnetic and Infrared Therapy), which eliminates the effects of electro-smog radiation, detoxing cells and taking the body to a deep state of calm. Since launching in Q3 2020, the new services have found an audience and increased in sales month over month, leading to the resort launch a new retail store that allows consumers to buy the technologies for home use.
- A number of luxury hotels including Cavallo Point San Francisco, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, The London West Hollywood, Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, Rancho Valencia, and Park Terrace Hotel on Bryant Park have partnered with Bryte, the Los Altos, California-based leader in AI-powered sleep technology, to transform their in-room wellness experience with The Restorative Bed™. Developed by Bryte with leading sleep scientists, including Dr. Matthew Walker, bestselling author of Why We Sleep and founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley, to deliver the quality of sleep the human body needs to restore critical infrastructures of physical, mental and emotional health, the cutting-edge, AI-powered bed introduces a new standard of sleep with dynamic, real-time technology that intuitively fine tunes settings such as temperature and firmness based on the individual needs and preferences of each traveler, personalizing the guest experience and providing a service level beyond expectations. Travelers can also create a portable profile that saves their preferences and continues the sleep optimization journey over future stays at any hotel with a Restorative Bed™.