“The most prestigious international event of its kind.” That’s how Miguel Torruco Marqués, Mexico City’s Minister of Tourism, referred to the Global Wellness Summit as he welcomed delegates to his city on the opening day of the recent three-day event. “Wellness tourism,” he said, “can help fight the illnesses of our times, such as stress.”
Launched as the Global Spa Summit in 2007 with an event in New York City, the event has since rebranded itself, offering a much broader focus and more diverse content. The theme this year was “Building a Well World,” and more than 450 attendees from 40 countries made it the largest gathering in the event’s history.
Mexico City is the first city to sponsor the Summit, noted GWS chairman and CEO Susie Ellis. “It has been sponsored by countries but never by just one city." It’s also the first time that the summit is being held in Latin America.
Wellness is a $3.4 trillion industry (as of 2014) and “it’s the one thing that countries everywhere can agree on,” Ellis said.
Of particular interest to agents, here are just a few newsy items from this year’s Summit:
Working wellness into hospitality
Fitness companies moving into hospitality is a growing trend, said Alfredo Carvajal, president of Delos International.
At one of the summit’s many sessions, Carvajal spoke about travel as “a disruptor,” and suggested that to reduce this “disruption,” the hospitality industry should seek out ways to “personalize wellness beyond spa thinking.”
To that end, two fitness brands already entering the hospitality scene are SOUL CYCLE and Equinox Holding Inc. In January, Soul Cycle will open a studio at 1 Hotel South Beach, Miami, and fitness company Equinox recently announced that its first hotel, currently in development, will open in New York City in 2018.
Then there are those progressive hospitality brands focusing on fitness as a core value. Even Hotels (by InterContinental Hotels Group) has recently opened its third hotel and the first in New York City. The 150-room flagship EVEN Hotels New York – Times Square South in Midtown Manhattan offers a 1,200-square-foot athletic studio, plus spin and yoga classes and morning runs led by the property’s chief wellness officer.?
Beyond fitness, the brand also offers Eat Well options and, speaking to Carvajal’s reference to “personalized” wellness, offers such items as customized dishes.
Rotorua positions itself for wellness tourism
About a three-hour drive south of Auckland, the city of Rotorua, New Zealand, is actively working to position itself as the health and wellness capital of the South Pacific.
Rotorua is the cultural center for the indigenous Maori, and project spokesperson Malcolm Short said, “the initiative is, in part, about growing the Maori economy and expressing the culture.” Beyond enjoying the therapeutic thermal hot springs that bubble out of the ground at 200-225 degrees centigrade, visitors also can enjoy white water rafting and mountain biking. A land of lakes, Rotorua is also working on a new lakefront development, including a spa that will incorporate Maori culture and a thermal water park for families.
Sri Lanka’s first luxury resort to open in February
Santani, the first luxury resort to open on the island of Sri Lanka, is scheduled to welcome its first guests in February 2016. Located about 12 miles from the city of Kandy, a World Heritage Site and the small nation’s cultural capital, the 50-acre property is a sustainable development set in the Sri Lankan hills.
In keeping with the development’s sustainability principles, Vickum Nawagamuwage, founder and CEO, says all rooms will be built on stilts in order “to touch the earth with a minimum footprint.” The design is based on the traditional 16th-century architecture of Sri Lanka, allowing natural airflow to cool the buildings; Nawagamuwagesaid it is 70% more energy-efficient.
The new all-inclusive resort also will house a restaurant with three menu options (detox, vegetarian, and international), a full-service spa, wifi on demand and, “pristine jungle, forest, rivers, and mountains at your doorstep,” Nawagamuwage said.
New healing arts center opens in Manhattan
Following 20 years as a trusted destination for wellness in East Hampton, NY, Naturopathica opened its second center — the Naturopathica Chelsea Healing Arts Center & Spa — last month in Manhattan. It houses a full-service spa with six treatment rooms; an herbal dispensary; a Vitality Bar serving juices, herbal tonics, and healthy snacks; and a Sensory and Meditation Lounge.
“In a city like New York, where everyone is in constant motion, I wanted to create a place where both residents and visitors to the city can slow down, relax, and learn how to integrate healing rituals and remedies into their daily routines,” said Barbara Close, professional herbalist and aroma-therapist, and founder/CEO of Naturopathica.
The 2016 Global Wellness Summit will take place in Tirol, Austria.