Most vacationers are grateful for the recuperative properties of getting away from the rat race of work and the stresses of modern-day life. But for people battling or recovering from cancer, time away can be even more precious.
That’s why Samantha Lippiatt started a niche business in her wholesale wellness travel company for travelers who are facing or who have beaten cancer.
Working in travel for more than 15 years, Lippiatt has been focused on health and fitness for the past five years, operating her company Health & Fitness Travel out of offices in London, Melbourne, Manila and Toronto.
Originally established in the UK, Lippiatt brought the business to Australia in 2014, and today, Health & Fitness Travel is a wholesaler working with agents “to offer curated luxury wellness travel experiences around the world, through our expertise in the area,” said Lippiatt, Director at Health & Fitness Travel.
Most of the company’s revenue comes from health and fitness holidays for independent travelers. “We have a large portion of solos, but also see friends, families, and couples traveling together,” Lippiatt said.
“Within our niche, there is a high demand for de-stress retreats for individuals who are experiencing fatigue or near burnout. Fitness, detox, sleep enhancement and emotional change retreats are all very popular, as well.”
Retreats usually run for a minimum of seven days, beginning and ending with a wellness evaluation. Guests can fill their day with a slate of activities like yoga, Pilates, personal fitness training or different types of group fitness classes, plus land and water sports; and then, they can slow down with meditation, holistic therapies and spa treatments.
There are also wellness talks, workshops and even healthy cooking classes. “Nutrition is also a main component of our retreats, integrating a ‘food as medicine’ philosophy to every meal,” Lippiatt said.
As an example, a seven-night, seven-day “Body Holiday” in St. Lucia costs $8,145 per person, including all meals, one daily spa treatment, a variety of complimentary classes, tennis and golf lessons, water sports, an individual personal training session with a fitness instructor, and private transfers.
Expanding into a niche serving cancer patients and survivors arose through personal contacts, Lippiatt said.
“I think, very unfortunately, we all have a personal connection with and know of people suffering or recovering from cancer. I have several within my own community, including children. So, when some of our top partner retreats began to offer suitable programs, we didn’t hesitate to include those in our offerings. This is closely tied with our mission to improve lives through wellness travel,” she said.
A sampling of wellness offerings
The majority of the company’s retreats are offered on an ongoing basis within dedicated facilities, with resident specialists and a rotation of visiting practitioners. A sizable portion of the company’s repeat guests “have built an affinity to a practitioner during a previous stay, or even a previous retreat,” Lippiatt said, and will book a retreat when that specialist announces their schedule to visit the resort.
The company’s collection of medical spa holidays include Chiva Som in Thailand (with their cell vitality program), Kurotel in Brazil, and SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain. A seven-day program at the SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain starts at around $8,000, and offers an award-winning medical spa specializing in detox, weight loss and stress, and a focus on a healthy macrobiotic diet.
Retreats for guests recovering from, or still battling cancer (and with the permission of their medical practitioner), offer a range of holistic spa therapies and complementary alternative natural medicine treatments, from acupuncture to Ayurveda to meditation.
Many of the retreats Lippiatt works with have an on-site expert medical team and wellness consultants who will personalize the experience for the guest.
The company’s marketing is done mostly through word-of mouth and online. “We are very active in guest blogging, PR and marketing activities, brand partnerships, paid search and social channels,” Lippiatt said.
Lippiatt finds working in wellness travel to be “very rewarding. We know that all of our holidays make a difference in the lives of our travelers and it’s especially fulfilling to be able to assist people on the road to recovering their health and vitality.”