With so much information out there about COVID-19, the tourism industry and summer travel, we at Hawkins International want to provide some bite-sized nuggets of wisdom you might not have seen anywhere else. We welcome your comments and suggestions for upcoming blog posts.
One thing is for sure. After this COVID-19 ordeal we’ve all been experiencing, wellness will become a stronger priority for all of us. Because of that, we forecast the wellness travel curve continuing on the upward trajectory it had already been experiencing during the last few years.
That said, the type of wellness journeys people will be seeking may change…but just a bit. What we are really going to see post-COVID is an acceleration to wellness trends that were already percolating. Those trends include wellness in nature, a focus on mental health and touchless, high-tech tools for fine-tuning one’s constitution.
Wellness Goes Au Naturel
Expect to see more outdoor wellness experiences on spa menus this summer and fall. Forest bathing, an import from Japan, has been gaining devotees around the wellness world for the past few years. It’s basically a beefed-up walk in the woods, with a guide leading an immersion into nature’s healing sights, smells and sounds. Other outdoor additions may include the installation of kneipping trails, outdoor yoga and meditation classes, and the design of Zen gardens.
Growing urbanization is creating the demand for these outdoor experiences. With cities being sites of relentless congestion and sparse green space, there is a huge drive for consumers to seek out nature. They are craving countryside escapes, mountains, beaches and fresh air.
What is exciting about this trend is that it may allow rural areas, which previously were blocked out of the expensive spa resort game, to become wellness meccas by showcasing natural assets like hot springs, forests and wide open spaces.
Wellness of the Mind
Mother Nature will also be likely to serve as a post-COVID psychiatrist. The need for eco-therapy, aka a dose of outdoor time, is increasingly being prescribed by doctors and wellness practitioners to reduce anxiety and depression. Park Rx America, based in the United States, is just one organization involved in encouraging medical professionals to prescribe nature instead of pills.
We are also seeing more wellness resorts bringing on medical and holistic health professionals to serve as advisors for their clients. The big players, like Canyon Ranch and Miraval, have long had a variety of health professionals on staff. But now, the trend is increasingly common at other wellness resorts. For example, at Lefay Resort & Spa in Lake Garda, Italy, guests meet with doctors using Eastern and Western techniques to assess health. At Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, guests have access to doctors, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and sex therapists!
Mending Mind and Body with High-Tech Tools
Mental wellness can also be delivered through technology. In recent years, there has been a surge of new high-tech wellness products focused on mental health, according to Tammy Pahel, vice president of spa and wellness for Carillon Miami Wellness Resort. For example, she cites the RASHA BODY-MIND SPIRIT system, a frequency generating software that works on the nervous system by harmonizing the hemispheres of the brain. Pahel says the treatment can be effective for those suffering from stress and depression. On another hand, she says Spa Wave is a harmonic sound therapy table that serves to relax customers and enhance sleeping.
Of course, not all high-tech treatments focused strictly on mental health. Treatments ranging from cryotherapy to halotherapy booths to infrared saunas deliver a range of physical benefits, including reduction of inflammation, boosting the immune system, and enhancing respiratory health. Expect treatments for all three of those conditions to be in high demand post-COVID.
Whether wellness is delivered by Mother Nature, by technology or by medical and holistic health professionals, there seems to be a unanimous consensus in the wellness industry that the segment will come back post-crisis better and stronger than ever. We concur with Nikki Miller, who serves as global director of Kohler Waters Spas. “This time off has given people time to connect with themselves and realize their mental and physical health challenges.” As this period has allowed people to experiment with new wellness modalities, Miller says, “People are learning they need more wellness in their lives.” Amen to that.