Wellness Travel: Four Trends for 2015
by Anne Dimon

The worldwide wellness tourism industry has become a multi-billion dollar sector growing faster than travel in general, according to industry reports.

And as more and more of us want to feel better—and live longer—it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The main driving forces behind this development: The aging of the boomer population, the realization by more people that the key to good health and longevity lies in their own hands, and, simply, more peoples’ adoption of a “wellness lifestyle” that they want to maintain while traveling for business and pleasure.    

As the industry continues to evolve and mature, here are four top wellness trends to watch:

#1. Getting Physical   
Whether it’s hiking, kayaking, cycling, yoga paddle boarding or simply walking in nature, there’s a steady interest in active vacations that’s leading to the introduction of more product.  

Shayne Messina of Sunmasters Elite Travel in Key Colony Beach, Fla., said her clients still want “beach and spa” vacations but “they also want to add some hiking and snorkeling and other fitness type adventures.”

The growth in these active vacations is not just for singles and couples.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Bicycle Adventures is wheeling into the burgeoning active family travel market with a new family tour series for 2015.

#2. Food as the foundation  
As people come to accept the fact that nutritious food is the foundation of a wellness lifestyle, they realize their diets could be the cause of ailments ranging from allergies to heart disease.

With that in mind, they’re increasingly exploring new ways to eat while on vacation.

Retreats with a strong focus on healthy diet alternatives include Fivelements in Bali where guests dine on raw vegan cruise and learn how to prepare tasty dishes with these “living” foods.  

At SHA Wellness Clinic in Alicante, Spain dishes are created based on the philosophy of macrobiotics.

#3. ‘Welltality’ is the new hospitality  
More hotels and resorts continue to add wellness features, programs and amenities to their everyday offerings.  

Fairmont Fit, Trump Wellness, and StayWell at MGM Grand are a few of the more well known programs.

More recently Four Seasons properties in cities such as Paris, Prague and Washington, D.C. introduced running, walking and hiking tours to guests free of charge.

At the Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, for instance, a 5.5 mile Cultural Jogging Tour takes guests on a guided run designed to showcase popular sites including the Louvre and the River Seine.

At the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, director of marketing and communications Denise Randazzo said the hotel offers each guest a welcomed cup of tea and warm towels upon arrival, vegan and gluten free options in all restaurants plus complimentary daily yoga and Pilates classes.

At Swissotels, the Purovel Spa & Sport brand extends from philosophy to treatments and even products.   

#4. More travel agent specialists
Travel agents, too, are part of the developing niche and many are becoming wellness travel specialists.

Melissa Bruno, who launched Wayne, N.J.-based Invigorate Travel in 2014, was drawn to wellness travel for three reasons. She is now a Well-Being Travel specialist.

The specialist certification is offered to agents by Well-Being Travel, a marketing organization that focuses on educating travel agents and suppliers about the growing health, wellness and medical travel industry.

She recently discovered the benefits of health in her own life and wanted to incorporate that into her own travels.

She relates to the demographic of educated successful professionals and executives who are looking for a partner to help them design their "best fit" wellness vacation.

She loves sharing her experience with others.

A believer in preventive care through diet, exercise and yoga, Tammey Perkins of Life Enhancing Travel in Bel Air, Md. began exploring the possibility of combining travel with healing the mind, body, and soul healing and last year became a Well-Being Travel Specialist.

She said her clients find great value in their wellness vacations. “They come home rested, happy, and rejuvenated,” Perkins said.

Another Well-Being Travel Specialist, Deborah Fogarty with Be Well Travel in Pembroke Pines, Fla., said, “This part of the industry is only growing, and I am so happy to be a part of it.”

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