Reflections on the Industry: When the H in Holiday means Health

Whether it’s beach time, adventure or cruising the ocean waves, holidays are to relax, enjoy time out and to set aside the usual routine. But as we become more aware of our health, holidays take on a new meaning.

Today’s travelling consumers are expecting more. Conscious of the importance of health away from home, they seek to adopt a health component during their time away, whether it be mindfulness, detoxing, diet, a specialist treatment, rehabilitation, or simply to de-stress.

Health issues are often easier to tackle during a holiday in the hope of returning renewed and invigorated with new routines and attitudes to integrate into lifestyle changes.

Today’s health travelers now expect wellness options and activities readily available to them to enhance their holiday experience such as healthy dishes on menus, nature walks, early morning yoga and tai chi amongst other specialist classes which reflect the destination’s culture. They also expect to see signature treatments on the spa menu which offer an opportunity to sample local practises, resources and products.

In response, many leisure hotels and resorts have adapted to this changing attitude towards the “health holiday” versus the “fly & flop” holiday. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, for example, has integrated a wellness culture throughout its brand. http://www.fairmontmoments.com/spa-wellness. Breakfast health shots smooth in the new day, more seeds and grains are scattered around, gluten-free options are more readily available, pillow menus help sleep patterns while fitness centres are the norm.

In our smart world, health is monitored in many ways – fit-bits, i-watches, and phones. They measure our steps, heart-beat and calculate calories on menus, amongst other functions. But e-gadgets can be detrimental to our health, giving rise to digital detox programmes offered in specialist wellness retreats, enticing “e-guests” away from twitter, facebook, mobiles and laptops and instead to plug into the destination and set the mind free.

Poured into a bottle, moulded into soap, extracted as miracle cures – consumers believe local means genuine and authentic. This has opened up the opportunity to market home-grown products with labelled promises of curative powers. From oils for aromatherapy massages, natural herbs and plants for skin and digestive problems, many natural resources have been blended and branded as supplements to wellness holiday programmes.

The consumer is defining and driving the travel & health industry with a strong focus on fitness, mind & spiritual health and weight-loss in the form of preventative programmes and specialist health holidays. The travel industry is reacting to these changing attitudes with proactive actions. There is a rise of wellness programmes, yoga & meditation breaks, and spa packages. At the same time, there is a plethora of organic, locally produced skin and health products to complement in-house treatments.

Enter, medical tourism and the rise of Medical Spas – the H in holiday is stepping up to offer bespoke health holidays for individual needs in destinations around the globe.