This is the latest in an occasional column by the publisher and editor-in-chief of Travel to Wellness.
No surprise to those of us in the industry, wellness travel is poised for great growth.
Already a multibillion-dollar industry, the wellness travel sector will see a significant surge in coming years for several reasons:
• Aging baby boomers are looking to extend their years of good health.
• More people are realizing that the key to good health and longevity lies in their own hands.
• There is more wellness product available in all price categories.
• Globalization is opening the doors to wellness lifestyle philosophies.
As ever-increasing numbers of us adopt a wellness lifestyle, travel agents can expect to see more clients who want to incorporate wellness into their trip planning. They want to maintain their healthy lifestyles, including food and fitness, while traveling, whether for business or pleasure.
Others who have begun looking at their vacation time through a different lens are looking for a wellness vacation. Often traveling with a specific intention – such as losing weight, getting fit, managing stress, reconnecting with self or a significant other, communing with nature – they want a vacation that’s designed to maintain, promote or kick-start a healthy way of living.
Here are 10 wellness travel trends and predictions for 2014 and beyond.
1. More people in all fields will recognize the value of the wellness vacation, including what it can mean for one’s overall health and sense of wellbeing and how it fits into disease prevention.
2. People will begin to schedule wellness vacations annually, for the betterment of body, mind and soul. Just as we visit the dentist every six months, we'll take a yearly wellness vacation.
3. Since food is the foundation of wellness, culinary vacation options will grow in tandem with the movement to eat more healthfully.
4. Forward-thinking corporations will include wellness vacations as part of wellness-in-the-workplace employee benefit packages. Some businesses will offer wellness vacations as an incentive to motivate individuals and teams to reach performance goals.
5. While many hotels already offer elements of a wellness lifestyle – i.e. food, fitness, spa treatments, sleep programs – we will see major hotel brands adopt a fully-integrated approach with wellness-themed hotel brands. One example: IHG’s Even Hotels, which launches in 2014.
6. For patients with certain conditions – weight gain, insomnia, eating disorders, depression and loneliness, for instance – doctors will begin prescribing specifically-designed and accredited health and wellness vacation packages before calling on “big pharmacy.”
7. There will be more, more and more wellness travel product available. Along with programs at destination spas and spa resorts, we’ll see a greater number of small companies and sole proprietors offering yoga/meditation getaways, healthy cooking classes and nourish-your-soul retreats.
8. While the spa has long been a central focus of a wellness lifestyle, more spa marketing organizations will embrace and promote other aspects of a wellness lifestyle – fitness, food, sleep, community and wellness for the planet, for instance.
9. Taking a cue from Europe, the North American hospitality industry will see an emerging category where luxury-meets- wellness-spa-meets-sophisticated-medical-clinic. One prototype is the award-winning SHAWellness in Spain.
10. Spas and anti-aging clinics will supplement existing menus with cutting-edge medi-treatments. How does this fit under the banner of wellness travel? Feeling good about the way we look increases our sense of wellbeing. Also, some of these new medical innovations will only be available in other countries.
The best news for travel agents? The wellness vacation is more bespoke than off-the-rack, so clients will be inclined to seek your assistance with trip planning.
Anne Dimon is founder and editor of Travel to Wellness Magazine. Published online for nine years, the magazine is launching a print/digital edition in mid-November; click here to subscribe.