Wellness travel is well and truly on the rise right now. According to Euromonitor’s World Travel Trends report, a significant number of people are placing a greater emphasis on health and fitness when they take a vacation.
While many are traveling specifically to be active (such as booking hiking, cycling, or surfing trips), others are looking to relax and restore inner calm on restorative yoga retreats and detox getaways. And plenty of people simply want to maintain their healthy lifestyle when they travel.
This growing consideration of personal well-being has spawned an entire industry that offers an ever-expanding and niche array of wellness-themed travel, from stop-smoking retreats to emotion-healing holidays. Today, fitness fanatics, adventure seekers and those looking to destress and detox can find any number of ways to soothe mind and body when they travel.
The growing wellness movement
The wellness trend is being embraced throughout the travel and tourism industry, and not just by hotels. A number of destination marketers are including the theme of wellness within their branding as well as organizing themed health and fitness-related initiatives.
The Mexican State of Guanajuato now has its own Wellness Tourism Association; the Aruba Tourism Authority has launched an Aloe Wellness Month; and the tourism marketing company for Palm Beach County in Florida has set aside this October as its first Spa & Wellness Month.
Fitness instructors and even retailers are also tapping into this trend by creating their own travel-themed wellness retreats. A new company called Yoga for Bad People hosts around 10 yearly retreats in various global destinations. Meanwhile, fashion retailer Free People has launched a tailored series of programs called FP Escapes, with activities including creative writing, surfing and hiking taking place in destinations such as Peru, Italy, and Nicaragua.
The wellness trend has undoubtedly become big business, and countless hotels are now promoting a range of services and amenities to appeal to the lifestyle choices of a more health-conscious guest.
How hotels are embracing wellness
As staying in shape on vacation becomes a priority for many, hotels are upgrading their fitness centers with the latest equipment and offering 24/7 access. But many hotels are taking a far more holistic approach to wellness, making it the very heart and soul of their brand proposition.
The website of Westin Hotels & Resorts places a huge emphasis on the theme of wellness. Guests can browse categories such as Eat Well, Work Well, Sleep Well, and Play Well to find services and amenities that help them unwind, workout, pick healthy meal options, and get a great night’s sleep.
Along with renting workout gear and joining running routes led by a “Run Concierge,” guests can choose “sleep-enhancing superfoods” from the in-room dining menu, and make use of essential oils of lavender and chamomile to ease tension. Meanwhile, a team of “Westin Well-being Experts” are available to inspire, lead fitness classes, and offer nutritional advice.
Kimpton Hotels is also orientating its brand proposition in similar way. Along with healthy menus offering locally-sourced ingredients, all rooms have yoga mats, and every property in the chain provides customized PUBLIC Bikes that are free to use.
These kind of initiatives reveal the extent to which many hotels are investing in the idea of healthy living as a core marketing proposition. However, the idea of looking after body and mind is being taken to a completely different level by certain brands in luxury travel.
How luxury travel is redefining wellness
The concept of wellness is taking center stage at some of the world’s most exclusive hotels. And as travelers take personal health more seriously, these luxury resorts are doing the same.
Thailand-based chain Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas is a prime example of how far the wellness theme is being taken. Their in-house teams have been trained by noted physicians specializing in nutrition, sleep, cardiovascular, and complementary medicine.
When guests arrive, they can take advantage of specialized programs and tailored advice designed to meet their own highly specific needs. One of the most recent programs is called Sleep With Six Senses. It was created by an internationally renowned sleep doctor with the intention of helping guests’ enjoy the ultimate night’s rest. Those that upgrade to this package receive a range of extras such as bamboo fiber pajamas, a SHOKAY eye mask, and a nasal neti pot and jasmine sleep spritzer. When guests crash out for the night, a tracker app monitors how well they sleep.
During 30-minute consultations, a Six Senses Wellness Practitioner then uses the night’s recorded data to suggest ways individuals can improve their sleep quality through methods such as personalized spa treatments and activities.
This kind of rigorous approach demonstrates how, at the cutting edge, the luxury travel market is integrating wellness throughout the guest experience, and personalizing it in the most sophisticated ways possible.
The rise of on-demand fitness
Expect on-demand fitness to also be a major theme this year. Instead of hitting the treadmill with a pre-programmed session, hotels are enabling guests to customize their exercise regimes and select from a huge range of inspirational workout videos.
The Charlotte City Marriott now offers access to almost 1,000 digital training classes including yoga, cardio and pilates. Gym equipment can also be synced up to personal fitness apps, and those wanting to run or cycle outside the hotel can follow running and cycling routes logged by the local community.
Meanwhile, Element Hotels has teamed up with fitness app Your Trainer to provide exclusive 10- to 12-minute fitness sessions. After checking in, guests are handed a training code with a three-digit code that lets them set up a Your Trainer profile.
On-demand sessions are also taking off at Standard hotel. Stationary Peloton bikes come with a 21.5-inch tablet screen that streams spin classes from an on-demand library. Each video can also be filtered by type, length, instructor and level.
As the 24-hour hotel gym becomes commonplace, on-demand fitness looks set to become the new way hotels provide a flexible way for guests to work out how they want, where they want, and when they want.
The wellness hotel room
Getting in a cardio session doesn’t just have to happen in the hotel gym anymore. More commonly, guests can roll straight out of bed and start their morning regime from the privacy of their own room.
The notion of making the hotel room a private fitness studio is being embraced by the Kameha Grand Zürich in Switzerland with their range of “Workout Suites.” Each one comes with a mini ping-pong table, weights, a workout wall and a treadmill.
Meanwhile, Hilton McLean Tysons Corner offers a specialized yoga room, cardio room, and spin room. Along with all the relevant kit and fitness equipment, thoughtful extras are included such as ZICO coconut water to aid hydration, and on-demand videos streamed through the TV.
But when it comes to wellness, transforming the hotel room into a workout studio is just the tip of the iceberg. In partnership with Delos, a number of Marriott properties and the MGM Grand Las Vegas have designed a room that caters to every conceivable element of personal well-being.
All new Stay Well rooms come with an impressive range of features including a dawn simulator to help guests awaken gradually, and “energizing lighting” that reduces jet lag and helps regulate circadian rhythm. Guests can also download a “Stay Well Mobile App” offering extras such as meditation sessions and health and travel tips from experts at Cleveland Clinic.
As the wellness trend continues to boom, Stay Well rooms offer a glimpse into what the hotel room of the future might look like.
The new era of wellness travel
As people see personal health and mental well-being as key priorities in their life, hotels need to evolve their range of amenities and services accordingly. Travel is still seen as a chance to unwind, but many people also want to keep up daily fitness regimes, eat healthily, and explore the destination on activity-based tours.
Indulging in a week of idle poolside relaxation will always be appealing. But a growing number of hotels realize that guests also want a much richer experience that allows them to fully recharge and rejuvenate in mind, body, and soul.