Wellness retreats, holidays and activities were prolific before this deadly pandemic when the interest in wellness travel and wellness tourism was surging. Mindful skiing, vinyasa yoga, monastery meditation, and elemental herbology (matching individuals to the natural elements). It was the height of fashion in travel.
Health and Wellness Travel
According to the Mental Health Foundation, the wellness market globally had expanded 12.8% over the last two years. Hotel groups centred on disciplines such as Feng Shui and sleep rituals, (Accor Group), tailored wellness (Six Senses) and lighting concepts (Swissotel). Dedicated resorts such as The BodyHoliday in St Lucia, renowned for its all-inclusive focus on lifestyle, was enjoying popularity while Thailand’s top wellness retreat, ChivaSom, had completed its major refurbishment. Globally, retreats were raising the roof on wellness offerings, from active expeditions, experiential and goal-orientated holidays and authentic, local experiences. Nature’s power of healing entered the limelight, highlighting therapies such as thermal springs in eastern Europe and altitude locations for pollution free air and of course forest bathing in parklands.
Wellness travel was categorised under destinations: Ayurveda, the ancient Indian health system and spiritual retreats of the east. The healing waters of ancient thermal spas throughout Eastern Europe, tribal rituals of Arizona, unpolluted fresh air of the alpine countries and the vast expanses of land for trekking in Scotland. Destination wellness.
Wellness has underlined nutrition and the increasing adoption of vegan and gluten-free diets as well as the trend in the usage of CBD oil treatments (the legal cannabis extract).
Will wellness continue its upward trail? What will be the trends when we are safely through this challenging time? Wellness will centre around our mental and social health while the traditional “high-touch” character of wellness will change, definitely, for the short term.
Needless to say our health and especially our focus on our immune system will continue to be a high priority. Our inquisitive mind will continue to rely upon virtual learning and many will prefer the safe haven of our homes to continue personal exercise regimes rather than crowded studios for group pilates classes or packed gyms.
As we retreat from global attitudes, there will be a preference for regional and local travel. Micro, rather than macro adventure, meaning experiencing sustainable wellness nearby, will be a popular.
For most of us, discretionary spending has certainly taken a hit as has our confidence in travelling further afield.. From media coverage and fear of the unknown development and demise of this virus, our desire to travel, to cruise, to explore cities will take time. When it does, spacious, open destinations such as the Alps in Europe, the cool spaces of Iceland and national parks and trusts will accelerate as fashionable choices.
Our behavioural patterns have had to change. New habits have been formed during the lockdown. Some may become permanent, such as our obsession with cleanliness, home exercise and avoidance of sharing personal space with complete strangers. Our online screens have become our agency to the virtual world. Our dependency will continue as the norm for our online communication and learning.
Emotional closeness, sterile surroundings in a physical-distanced environment will change the wellness tourism we once knew. Virtual therapies, meditation of all types, renewed relationships with nature and outdoor wide-open spaces to enjoy unpolluted fresh air will become the norm with less reliance on overseas, highly populated destinations. As a creative industry combined with our love of travel, we will see wellness solutions grow in new directions and develop from the green shoots already planted.