On the Right Track: Wellness Programs Roll Out as New Data Show Increasing Interest

by Anne Dimon
On the Right Track: Wellness Programs Roll Out as New Data Show Increasing Interest

Wellness at home, wellness at work, wellness on vacation. Staying healthy is a full-time American preoccupation, and travel industry suppliers from Silversea to MSC to hotels around the world are integrating everything from in-room yoga to tours with like-minded people into their offerings.  

Meanwhile, a new study highlights how important a healthy work environment is—and that includes taking a vacation as well as supporting healthy choices in the workplace.

The Global Wellness Institute this month released two pieces of research: a report on “The Future of Wellness at Work” and a survey gauging how employees feel about many aspects of their company’s corporate culture and wellness programs.  

Both found that “caring” companies are implementing wellness-focused programs. Both found that “caring” companies are implementing wellness-focused programs.  

Not surprisingly, travel suppliers already are there.

Silversea Cruises, for example, has announced a lineup of more than a dozen wellness-themed sailings over the next two years as part of its “Wellness Expedition Voyages” that will feature yoga, Pilates, and fitness classes, as well as spa massage treatments, daily wellness lectures, and gym sessions.

And recognizing that “the traditional thinking of gaining 10 pounds on vacation is in the past,” MSC Cruises is launching a cruise experience “where you can lose weight, have a personal trainer and a custom diet and excursions to help you stay active,” said senior vice president of marketing Bonnie Levengood. An app helps guests track how much they are eating; there are yoga mats in the room and customized excursions in groups of like-minded people; and a doctor onboard will check your cholesterol and lipids.

The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo this year will introduce a first-of-its-kind wellness program for both leisure travelers and corporate groups of up to 175 attendees. Details are still in the works but spokesperson Oriane Lluch says the initiative “will allow participating guests to follow a set multi-day program, plus will allow other guests to enjoy wellness options via a-la carte.”

Another example is California-based Ayres Hotel. With 21 hotels across the state, the company recently opened the Allegretto Vineyard Resort, the brand’s first resort, and the first of the collection to house a spa. A wellness program offering consulting services to guests is also in the works. 

“We developed our first spa and wellness program at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort to meet the increasing demand by guests and our local community to incorporate wellness into their lives,” said Doug Ayres. The Spa Allegretto exists to create connectivity; unify guests’ mind, body, and spirit; and guide you to rejuvenation and self-discovery.  

“Unwellness” is not sustainable  
Meanwhile, “The Future of Wellness at Work” study offers some interesting data to back up the interest. Its key findings include:

Most of the world’s 3.4 billion workers are unwell, and the cost of that “unwellness” is not sustainable.  

Wellness programs reach less than one in ten workers worldwide, and cynicism about wellness programs abounds.

Workplace wellness programs currently have little impact and low engagement.

When companies care, employee health, stress, and engagement significantly improve.
Defining a “caring” company
A pivotal factor of the research is whether an employee identified his or her company as “caring about their health/wellness.” When employees found the company they work for genuinely caring, “their overall health, stress levels, and job engagement improved significantly,” the research found.  

When it comes to travel, GWI research director Beth McGroaty said, companies that employees identified as "caring" have significantly different policies toward vacations.  

For instance, “caring” companies are more likely to make workers unplug completely on vacation (no calls, emails, etc.) than those identified as “uncaring” companies, and have a work culture that incorporates “emotional, organizational, intellectual, and financial wellness at work.” 

GWI’s McGroaty said that while workplace wellness traditionally has been about “things like health screenings or exercise at work, given current employee stress levels taking a major toll on employee health, encouraging (even enforcing) vacations will increasingly be a core part of a workplace wellness strategy—and that’s great news for the travel industry.”  

“It's a natural progression for wellness programs to lead to a wellness lifestyle for many people, and that often carries over to how they want to spend their time both at home and on vacation,” agreed Carla Smith, CTA, director of marketing and membership of The Travel Institute, which offers travel agents an online training course in selling wellness travel. 

Both GWI reports can be downloaded here.

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