In the travel industry, wellness is more valuable than ever. People are living healthier lifestyles, and they don’t want to give that up when they’re on the road. According to the Global Wellness Institute, travelers are set to spend more than $800 billion on health-focused trips by 2020.
Health-focused resorts around the world are finding exciting new ways to capitalize on this growing demand, and paving the way for smaller properties to enhance their own wellness offerings.
The Global Wellness Summit recently released several studies including “A New Era of Transformative Wellness Travel” which reported that destinations are creating “necklaces” of linked experiences that cater to physical, emotional, and mental well-being. “Spas have long adopted the language of the ‘journey’ but with little actual journeying; now concepts are appearing befitting the term,” the report said.
These excursions can involve a single day or weeks, depending on what guests need and want. A day-long excursion can include visiting a local market, an al fresco meditation session, and a full afternoon of spa sessions. For example, at the Nihi Sumba Island resort in Indonesia, the NihiOka Spa Safari takes small groups for an early morning hike to a traditional village where they can meet locals, and later to open-air platforms suspended over the ocean to enjoy their meals. Later in the day, there’s unlimited spa treatments, swimming in the pool, and relaxing on the beach. Because the treatments are unlimited, there’s no stress of clock-watching.
This year, Bhutan is getting ready to launch the first “multi-lodge wellness circuit.” The Six Senses Bhutan will have five lodges dedicated to everything from design to food to spa experiences. Guests will go on a literal and metaphorical journey across different landscapes, climate zones, and cultural areas. As they travel across the five lodges, they will collect charms to add to a bracelet, marking their progress as they learn about the different elements of wellness.
“People want far more immersive journeys and experiences, particularly wellness travelers: those transformative epiphanies that come from stepping into a story larger than themselves,” Anna Bjurstam, VP of Spas & Wellness at Six Senses, said in the report.
What You Can Do
While huge resorts have the space to develop expansive offerings to improve guest wellness, smaller hotels in urban and suburban areas can use the same idea on a smaller scale, using effective programming and good partnerships to create their own experiences. For example, a hotel can organize yoga or meditation sessions in any outdoor space – deep breathing in fresh air will help guests relax quickly. A local trainer can come in to host dedicated fitness classes in the gym during certain hours or on certain days. If a hotel doesn’t have a spa, it can partner with an establishment nearby and offer to shuttle guests to and from their sessions so they don’t need to worry about driving.
Hotels can also partner with walking tour groups or individual guides to give guests an in-depth look at the community. Bring guests to local markets that sell food or artwork, and give them a chance to get to know the people in the area. Local artists also make for good partnerships – invite musicians to play in the lobby or in the courtyard to help get guests relaxed and calm after, or perhaps before, a long day.
Healthy food should already be available, whether the hotel has a full restaurant or only limited F&B options. Infused water and fresh fruit are absolute musts, but don’t forget herbal teas. Whether the guests are just unwinding for the day or taking a deeper dive into their wellness, they’ll appreciate the small touches that help them on their journey.
Keep in mind, the programming doesn’t have to be as intricate as that offered by Six Senses or the NihiOka Spa Safari, but it can still promote health and wellness on a smaller scale. The important thing is to have your guests leaving feeling better than when they arrived, and that will make them want to return.