We humans have always been pretty good at treating ourselves. For centuries people have found innovative ways of exploiting natural wonders of the land for the sake of beauty and pleasure.
Whether it’s caking on nutrient rich muds and Dead Sea salts or plunging into hot springs (or icy pools if you’re daring!), people are ceaselessly attracted to the possibility of a good pamper – more so now than ever.
The well-known therapies of massages and saunas have been around for time immemorial, but there is clear evidence of a recent boom. The spa and wellness travel industry is expanding faster than overall travel tourism –it’s now worth $500billion globally – and hotels, spas and boutique retreats are doing anything and everything to stay ahead of the curve. The selection of where to go is now based on the Hotel or Retreat, over the location. For example, within California’s Hot Springs, there are now a range of luxury resorts to hip hidden hideaways to make the most of the H2O wonders.
Hospitality companies are racing to be at the forefront of the offering. A true wellness holiday must offer an effective fitness, spa and exercise programme, from beach boot camp workouts, to hiking and wide-ranging yoga and mindfulness schedules, with a good nutritionist and healthy dining options. Retreats, wellness hotels and leading spas must look ahead of the trends to find an offering that attracts these crowd above competitors. They are now introducing experiences that go the extra mile. New exercise classes are constantly being created: from surfboard yoga to underwater cycling, or new spa treatments and alternative styles of meditation such as the stirring hum of quartz singing bowls. That, and a stunning backdrop of snow-capped mountains or palm-strewn beaches ought to do the job, right?
Wellness tourists are generally ‘high-yield’ tourists, spending on average 130 per cent more than the average visitor. There has been a rapid change in people’s holiday patterns away from ‘fly-and-flop’ vacations to more visits with an emphasis on preventive therapies and wellness. Health and fitness travel specialists report a 300% growth in demand in wellness holidays worldwide since 2014. It used to be that a holiday was a chance to overindulge and laze about, but now people are focusing on using this time away to improve their quality of life, state of mind, balance and embracing a healthier lifestyle.
The appeal of wellness breaks reaches a variety of communities. From the rise of ageing baby boomers to high net worth clients whose stress levels require soothing, as well as a distinctly better off younger generation and a ‘time-poor’ population of busy professionals in greater need of relaxation for enhanced health.
Then you’ve got the concept of the F**k it Retreats, started by UK based John & Gaia, who run them in Urbino Italy, and London and Dublin. Through understanding yourself and how to live your life, its more about your mind than your body. It teaches you to destress with the art of letting go. Learn not to give a….
In the last decade, the popularity of yoga has skyrocketed. For a long while it was associated, in the western world, with hippies and nomads and people generally ignored yoga’s health benefits that are so clearly demonstrable today. Today however, more and more people seem to be engaging with spirituality as a form of releasing pent up tensions, and the business of yoga is manifestly booming.
Certain countries that have seen recent tourism shocks (India, Mexico), or those re-building tourism after past conflicts (Cambodia, Nicaragua) are capitalising on wellness tourism as a rebranding tool for the nation. Wellness tourism can play a major role in changing people’s preconceptions and image building that is critical for nations that have experienced dips in tourism because of crises. Is it any wonder that all the glossy magazines are constantly recommending exciting and unbeatable new stays in these emerging countries?
Advocates of wellness tourism will suggest that vacations improve physical wellbeing, happiness, and productivity, affirming that health-oriented trips give travellers a fresh perspective for a more productive lifestyle and dealing with the stresses of the average day-to-day.
And though it may be fairly difficult to assess the actual health benefits of wellness vacations, aren’t we all agreed that dipping your toes in crystal waters or sinking into a steaming onsen is the ideal solution for a luxuriant unwind?
That’s said, it would appear that its not always necessary to leave the city for a wellness break. Find your calm with Re:Mind drop-in meditation studios in Victoria, London, to energy-boosting kobox-boxing. You also have the additional retreats within 2 hours of London with the likes of Yeotown in Devon, Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire, The Arrigo Programme in Somerset, a weekend getaway to Bath for their 360 degree wellness scene, and so many more.
So what’s next?
Where does the future lie in terms of wellness? It would appear that mental wellness will be the biggest future trend. Many companies in the world’s business capitals are now offering ‘wellness at work’ schemes, where employees can receive in-house massage or meditation sessions, in part to look after workers and avoid burn-outs, but also its said that maintaining decent wellbeing at the office increases creativity and productivity.
Maybe Citizen Femme will start including Friday afternoon shoulder rubs? Apply here!