What’s New in Wellness Tourism?

Any form of travel seems to provide a healthy escape, but when you really think about it, even many vacations are neither healthy nor an escape. According to the American Psychological Association, 10% of employees regularly checked email when they were supposed to be enjoying a vacation.

It’s no wonder wellness travel, a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of work and technology, has grown so quickly in the past few years. The Global Wellness Institute reported that wellness tourism now comprises 15.6% of total tourism revenues –  nearly one of every six dollars of tourism spend.

Curated wellness retreats – Some wellness vacations emphasize the ultimate relaxation experience, while others encourage visitors to power through intense workouts or start a detox program. Which type appeals more to you? 

Some popular spas in the U.S. include Miraval in Arizona and the Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, TX. Southeast Asian resorts such as Kamalaya in Thailand, Anada in India, and The Chateau Spa in Malaysia are renowned destinations among adventurous international travelers.

The new minimalism = mindfulness – From a wellness perspective, minimalism has a strong correlation with improving mental health and spending smarter. A widespread “experiences over things” mentality pervades the culture, which, according to experts, bolsters the travel industry as more people are acquiring plane tickets than trinkets.

The philosophy also helps with the rising ancillary costs of airlines because when travelers pack less, they fly worry-free with fewer baggage fees. “Packing lightly makes for easier, more efficient travel,” says Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify. “When you don’t have to check your luggage, wait for it at the baggage carousel or worry the whole time about losing it, you have more time and energy to enjoy your trip.”

Sober up – Sobriety will not only become healthy this year but also cool. Cocktails will be replaced by vitamin elixirs, the ever-popular sparkling water, or juices and flavor-infused waters. Hotel cocktail hours are certainly not disappearing yet, but we’ll definitely be checking back for updates in a few years.

Healthier meals – With the rise of healthy subscription-based meal services and health-conscious grab-and-go lunches comes the industry’s responsibility to adapt the trend to the hospitality scene. And that’s exactly what hotels are doing.

In fact, Starwood has partnered with SuperFoods Rx for dietary recommendations for their customers. The Kimpton hotel locations take it a bit further: They’ve created a list of banned food for their chefs, including cured meats, butter, cheese, creamy dressing, and added salts.

If minibars are more your thing, The Epiphany Hotel’s Fresh Fridge has you covered. For $95 dollars, you can have fresh-pressed juices and healthy snacks/meals delivered right to your room. “The Fresh Fridge came out of conversations that we feel things are lacking in travel dining,” Leah Goldstein, a representative of The Epiphany Hotel, says. “You’re just inundated with food that makes you feel gross.”

Wellness goes mainstream in lodging – Lodging based on health trends finally moves past the luxury sector and grants more access to the majority of travelers. EVEN Hotels, an IHG property, dedicates much of their business mission to providing healthy alternatives to business and leisure travelers with spas, healthy meal options, and plenty of exercise equipment. Westin Hotels and Resorts serves a Sleep Well menu of select teas, like chamomile, and snacks to help travelers drift off comfortably.

...And airports – Want a few minutes of silence to soothe your winter flight worries? Some major airports, like London’s Heathrow Airport, Chicago ‘O Hare, and San Francisco International, have quiet rooms made specifically for yoga or meditation.


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