Jump-Start Clients’ New Year’s Resolutions With a Wellness Trip
by Ana Figueroa

With New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, now is the time to sell clients on a healthy travel experience once the holiday indulgences are over. Agents who do will stand in good shape themselves.

Here are a few options for weight loss, health and fitness travel that clients will appreciate at this time of year.  

Fitness Resorts
Resorts and spas catering to fitness and weight loss are evolving continually. They’re also more high-profile than ever, thanks to TV programs such as “The Biggest Loser” and “Celebrity Fit Club.”

The Spartan fat camps of yesteryear have given way to posh accommodations, gourmet spa cuisine and spiritual retreats. But the boot camp-style approach is still around. With locations in Niagara, N.Y.; Ivins, Utah;  and Malibu, Calif., the Biggest Loser Resorts employ the regimen seen on the reality series. Fitness training, nutritional counseling and personal coaching are hallmarks of the residential program’s success.  

“Our clients have gone to other places and tried other diets. What we do is provide an attitudinal shift in their way of life,” said Howard Cohl, chief marketing officer for the Biggest Loser Resorts. “And we do it with lots of camaraderie and support,”

Destination Spas and Resort Spas
For clients interested in a less structured approach, destination spas provide myriad options. “Destination spas are popular because they’re all about improving oneself physically, mentally and spiritually,” said Stephanie Durst, a spa wellness specialist with Protravel International in Syosset, NY.

The desert, canyon and mountain landscape of Arizona provide a backdrop for several world-class destination spas, including Canyon Ranch and Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson. Both offer fitness activities, nutrition counseling and an extensive roster of classes and spa treatments.

Miraval focuses on spirituality and mindfulness. Mii amo, part of the Enchantment Resort in Sedona is a leading destination spa renowned for its spiritual healing and integration of Native American concepts. A second Mii amo spa is set to open in Punta Mita, Mexico in 2013.

“Places such as Canyon Ranch and Miraval I recommend for my luxury clients,” Durst said. “They’re high-end destinations for those used to things like beautiful bed linens. The type of client you might regularly book into Four Seasons properties. But, there’s also a younger clientele that’s mostly interested in a great hiking getaway,”

Durst cites the Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah. and Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico as two notable options. Both emphasize outdoor activities across expansive scenic landscapes. Rancho La Puerta has just announced a new program designed to help jumpstart guests’ weight loss goals, called “A Lighter You.”

At the Oaks at Ojai south of Santa Barbara, Calif., the focus is on affordable nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyle habits. In addition to hiking along native California scrub and oaks, clients can enjoy dance classes, yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, the integrated Chinese system of stress relief and balance.

Commissions vary
Commission policy varies by destination. At some resorts, not all of the  client’s daily or weekly program cost are commissionable. Those program costs typically include accommodations, meals, use of fitness facilities, classes and transfers to the spa. Rates at high-end destination spas can reach $1,000 per night, so earnings can be substantial, even if not all of it is commissionable.

Some destination spas do pay commission on the entire weekly program cost, including The Biggest Loser Resorts where agents earn 10% commissions. Rates are $2,695 per week for private accommodations, with successive weeks at a slight discount.

Rancho La Puerta offers a 15% commission on the weekly program cost (approximately $3,000) for first-time visits and 12% commission for repeat visits. “A la carte” items purchased on site, such as spa treatments, private fitness sessions and cooking classes are non-commissionable.

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Former Executive Vice President for Legal & Industry Affairs, ASTA
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