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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wellness Travel Trends for 2013

Words by Camille Hoheb


Camille Hoheb, wellness travel industry expert and founder of Wellness Tourism Worldwide has come up with a top-ten travel trend list for 2013. There’s been a large shift toward wellness in the past few years and it appears the trend will continue.

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The forecast is based on an analysis of factors including consumer and business-to-buesiness surveys, site visits, feedback from travel suppliers, destinations and sellers as well as extensive research, all of which have been consolidated to bring practical knowledge to both individuals and businesses.

Wellness Takes Flight

To draw more passengers and increase revenue, airports renovations are featuring sleek ultramodern designs incorporating natural light, art installations, high-end dining and shopping venues as well as a plethora of health and fitness offerings. A wide range of offerings from the ubiquitous spa to swimming pools, gardens, walking paths, private napping cabins and cultural centers are all designed to create a kind an atmosphere of “terminal bliss.” 

Health Focused Hotels

Hotels have realized there’s an unmet need for guests to maintain health during travel which goes beyond gyms, pools and spas. Now hotel rooms are designed to alleviate altitude sickness, reduce jet lag, induce better sleep, eliminate bacteria, waterborne chemicals and allergens, and purify and humidify the air. Vitamin C-infused showers, dawn simulating alarm clocks and melatonin-producing lighting are other notable features. Guest can access in-room fitness equipment and healthy lifestyle education as well as take-home tips, programs and wellness apps.

Digital Detox

The World Travel Market Global Trends Report listed digital detox as one of the next big trends to hit the hospitality industry in 2013. A survey showed that 80% of smartphone users in the U.S. almost never leave home without their device, while another found almost 50% of mobile owners use their phone during vacations to snap photos and trip planning. Surrendering laptops, tablets and smartphones at check-in are a part of several hotels “un-plug” programs. Some destinations are also creating technology-free vacation campaigns as a way to market their rustic settings.

Reconnecting Through Nature

Natural assets are the most critical components to wellness tourism product development. Destinations are beginning to fully leverage their landscape in response for the human need to explore and relax outdoors. “Deprivation holidays” - coined by Euromonitor - are a growing trend where stressed-out folks choose outdoor boot camp to improve fitness and induce weight loss by pushing to the extreme.

Sleep at the Forefront 

Too tired to function, unable to rest? Lack of sleep impacts immune, brain and metabolic systems. With spas, hotels, airplanes and airports, sleep has risen from the ignored to the significant. Micro naps in urban spas create a respite from the frantic pace of cities. Private napping cabins offer respite for weary intercontinental travelers. Hotel designs have evolved to combat jet lag and to help both business and leisure travelers sleep well and prepare for the day ahead. Airlines are catching on, with redesigned planes for peaceful sleep providing well-appointed linens on a full size bed and turn down service in first class private cabins.

Spiritual Seekers

The interest in non-religious spiritual practices is growing around the World. An increasingly secular global society seeking meaning and purpose opens the doors to spiritual pilgrimages, retreats, temple stays and workshops. Asia, as the place of origin for mind/body lifestyles, practices and treatments is the home of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, various forms of meditation, yoga and other approaches to healing and wellness. As an economic powerhouse, Asia has the resources to continue building its tourism platform and exceed traveler expectations.

Indigenous Healing Traditions

As the world has become more globalized, many spa brands have gone the way of Starbucks – predictable. Placing a spot light on authentic healing traditions is important on several levels. Exporting a region’s traditional healing practices gives consumers the opportunity to experience them first-hand at their place of origin. Travelers seeking health and healing traditions at their place of origin contributes to cultural conservation and sustainability, in some cases stimulating economic growth and breathing new life into long forgotten, ancient or undervalued rituals.

Rewarding Wellness Travel

In light of the economic downturn, companies seek peak performance and maximal efficiency. Meeting planners are seeking destinations which align with corporate initiatives for maximum ROI. What better way than to coordinate transformative experiences for both the individual and business organization sponsoring the meeting? Most U.S. companies plan to increase the dollar value of the incentives they offer employees to participate in health improvement programs in 2012, according to a recent employer survey.

Celebrity Instructor Retreats

Wellness travel has taken off as a way to jumpstart a new health regimen or to deepen one’s practice of a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that sometimes the most transformative experiences occur far away from home. Yoga, Pilates, meditation and fitness gurus have been elevated to rock stars with their own following and are taking their expertise on the road at exotic locations and regional weekend workshops. Spa destinations and resorts have been offering specialized, themed getaways for a while, but now instructors have realized their own cache and are cashing in.

Intergenerational Family Travel

It seems everyone agrees that multi-generational family travel is a hot trend that has been growing the last few years including Virtuoso, VacationWired, TravelMole, American Express, U.S. Travel Association, ASTA and a variety of others. Grandparents are connecting with grandchildren in a distinct way — by traveling. Grandparents are more active and fit, and have sympathy for their own grown children, who often are required to have two working adults to pay the bills. Vacations create memories and are taking their family relations from cyberspace to real space. The travel industry has designed programs to bring families together to learn, love and play. What could be more “well?”

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Scottsdale Living Magazine, Wellness Tourism Worldwide and Mashable.com

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