by Steven W. Stavrou, Founder of EcoWanderlust.com
Spafinder Wellness 365 recently released its top ten global spa and wellness trends for 2015. The report is of great significance to the tourism industry, which we now know has a nearly $500 billion wellness travel sector. For wellness travellers and wellness travel professionals, an understanding of these trends will be important for wellness tourism in 2015. Each trend has been briefly outlined below.
1. Forest Bathing
Forest bathing is the practice of quietly walking in nature, with the mind focused on the senses. Government-funded forest therapy studies in Japan have shown that forest bathing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and improves mood. As a result, “forest medicine” is booming, as doctors are prescribing time in nature, and spas and wellness retreats worldwide are offering forest bathing programs.
A rising wave of legalization is opening up an entirely new market for Cannabis, such as juice bars, spas, and tours. Travel THC, for example, is a website that allows travelers to find “marijuana-friendly” vacation rental properties in the state of Colorado. Cannabis businesses are also beginning to incorporate wellness, adding massages, yoga, and meditation to their offerings.
3. Wellness Traditions from the Islamic World
Traditional, authentic, unique, cultural – all these words are what wellness travelers are using to describe the experiences that they desire, and what wellness travel companies are using to describe the experiences that they offer. Eastern, holistic medicine, as well as practices such as yoga and meditation are all part of this trend, and are being offered at wellness resorts around the world.
4. Blue Collar Wellness
Increasing healthcare costs, an aging population, and a growing health-conscious market are all stoking this industry. Health and wellness programs are becoming increasingly important to large organizations, with the goal of maintaining a healthier, more productive workforce. This presents significant opportunities for the wellness travel industry, especially when it comes to business travel.
5. Wellness Communities
Economic prosperity in the early 2000s made “spa real estate” a top trend, lead by popular destination spas. The 2008 recession brought this industry crashing down. However, a rising economy and other factors such as increased stress levels among the population have allowed wellness homes, communities, and cities to soar yet again, and this is well evident in the wellness travel boom.
Fitness has become a “total lifestyle” quest, from what people wear, to what they eat, to whom they are friends with. Fitness classes and studios have become prominent social channels, as many spend their days at work or in front of screens. This rise in social fitness has lead to an increase in social wellness tourism, and we are seeing more destination fitness events such as global yoga festivals.
7. Spa on Arrival
The spa experience is becoming both a prerequisite of travel, as well as a post-travel requirement to reduce travel fatigue, making it a more “on-demand” service than ever before. No longer are spa treatments just extensions of trips. We will begin to see more spas at airports, and massages offered upon arrival and at check-in.
8. Hyper-Personalized Beauty
Hyper-personalization is moving to the forefront of the highly competitive cosmetics industry. Consumers are demanding custom blends of products specifically formulated for them. Technological advances in 3D printing and scientific advances in genetic analysis are taking beauty and wellness to new heights.
9. Gut Reaction
People are “listening to their guts” when it comes to their personal well-being. Research will seek to establish links between our gut and our health and beauty, meaning that we will begin exploring ways of controlling how we look and feel by altering our microbiome. Gut health is about to go mainstream, giving spa and wellness businesses new opportunities in microbiome health.
10. Beyond the Stars
Curated recommendations are superseding star ratings, and online reviews are redefining luxury. “Five stars” has become the baseline. Hotels must now go above and beyond, and wellness is playing an integral role in helping them do just that. Authentic and exotic destinations are becoming highly sought after, while increased urbanization has turned privacy, space, silence, and light into luxuries.