Wellness tourism. I’m sure you’ve heard about the buzz word, maybe even received an advertisement in an email enticing you to explore it further. But what is all the hype about? Is this another guilty indulgence for the ultra-rich, or something that you should really look into? Let’s first discuss what this wellness tourism is all about and then jet off to the far reaches of the world in search of the craziest wellness destinations.
First thing’s first, what is wellness tourism? We all (pardon the generalization) like traveling. We also like to think we care about ourselves. Wellness tourism is the happy amalgamation between vacationing and enhancing our well-being—physical, mental, or spiritual. It is a huge ~USD 700B part of a massive ~USD 4.5 trillion global wellness market and is growing at a staggering ~15% CAGR (BC- before Corona).
But what does this mean for me and you? For starters, lots of people are already embarking on wellness vacations. And pursuit of wellness can mean different things at different points in your life. There are a myriad of options available, whether that's partaking in a self-care and healing journey, a holistic learning experience, or simply the traditional rejuvenation spa resorts, there's something for everyone. Here are some of the most off-the-beaten path trends in wellness tourism:
1. Immortality retreatsCities with “Blue Zone” status are recognized for having high concentrations of residents living past age 100. Cities with this status include Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria in Greece; Ogliastra in Sardinia; the community of Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California; and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. For those of us who are dying to know how to live a longer life, we can head to longevity retreats and learn about the healthy lifestyle of centenarians and their life-lasting secrets!
Activities at these retreats range from engaging in physical activity such as sunrise yoga; touring local food markets and learning how to cook local specialties; to bathing in local sea water or thermal baths claimed to have healing properties. These retreats are meant to be rejuvenating, but also an educational experience for you to elongate your life once you’re back home. Learning about the nine pillars of blue zones is an essential part of the experience. And guess what folks, that includes having wine at 5pm everyday. Not bad huh? Sign us up! Some immortality retreats or “Blue Zone certified” retreats you may want to explore post-corona are:
- The Halekulani Okinawa in Okinawa, Japan
- Vair Spa in Puglia, Italy
- Blue Spirit in Costa Rica
A good night’s sleep is crucial for our longevity and wellbeing, many studies have found. But if you’re struggling with insomnia and poor sleep patterns, then you may want to consider a sleepness getaway. The journey to a deeper and longer sleep includes deep relaxation and energy balance treatments through yogic sleep, reflexology, magnesium sleep therapy, and tibetan sound massages to name a few. Not to mention you’re engaging in these sedative activities in heavenly dreamlands of tropical paradise or stylish comfort.
Many people have found these retreats transformational to not only permanently improve their sleep, but also reduce their stress, boost their immunity, and enhance their creativity and memory. Don’t spend a minute longer counting sheep. Transport yourself to cloud nine at any of these places:
- Grand Resort Bad Ragaz Sleep in Switzerland
- Six Senses Yogic Sleep available in multiple places
- Shanti Maurice Shanti Sleep in Mauritius
- Kamalaya Sleep Enhancement Program in Koh Samui Thailand
Think of this as the opposite of a honeymoon. Painmoons are meant for the broken-hearted or for those who are grieving a loss. It’s a vacation to help overcome sadness, anger, stress, to essentially recover from loss and return to a much more positive peaceful state of emotional health. Global Wellness Trends Report pointed out:
“On social media everyone projects that perfect life: another amazing, exotic trip – another dream wedding. And much of wellness travel is geared to all those happy ‘women’s milestones,’ those markers that are supposed to be part of a woman’s life: honeymoons, bachelorette parties, babymoons, etc. Now more wellness travel for women acknowledges that women’s lives (like everyone’s) include divorce, break-ups, grief, loss, anger, fear, a loss of sexual happiness, etc.”
Our research indicates that the term “painmoons” has only recently been coined, and, while there are no designated painmoon wellness retreats, we did find several wellness destinations that offer emotional recovery or “turning point” wellness programs. These programs include engaging in meditation, working with a physical or spiritual healer, journaling feelings outdoors, attending healing workshops, and/or partaking in a cleansing fast. Our picks for going on a painmoon are:
- Self-healing and spiritual retreats with Alexandra Roxo
- Kamalaya Embracing Change Program in Koh Samui Thailand
- Tarant Women-Only Retreat in Puglia, Italy
4. Men's Wellness Escape
While many painmoon retreats seem to cater only to women, men can also participate in a painmoon of their own! Over the last few years, men mostly ages 40-70, have increasingly jumped on the wellness train by booking wellness travel vacations. The shift towards focusing on mental health and holistic wellness is motivating men to take a step back from their hectic lifestyles and seek disconnection and balance.
Beyond golf courses and fitness training, men can participate in rituals like shamanic healing, sound baths, and natural ayurvedic treatments. But if the latter is not your thing, but you still seek to incorporate mindfulness in your vacation escape, then mindful triathlons and mountain trekking might be for you. Here are some recommendations to consider:
- Mindful Triathlon at Thanyapura Health and Sports Resort in Thailand
- Healthy Ageing Men at SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain
- Golden Door in San Marcos, California, USA
5. Genetic Retreats
In talking about wellness, we throw around ways to achieve wellbeing; relaxation, sleep, adventure. But imagine there was a way to measure wellness? And even better, a way to quantitatively improve our wellness. Well, pioneers are working on a new wellness tourism concept combining fitness, genetics, and technology to demonstrably improve our wellbeing. Using inputs such as your DNA, heart rate and metabolic activity, these wellness retreats are able to holistically determine your wellness and then set up a personalized regime to improve it.
Larry Ellison, former Oracle CEO, is pioneering this field, having just launched his new Wellness brand, Sensei.As Forbes reports, “Over the past eight years, he’s spent at least half a billion dollars on a Hawaiian island, Lanai, that he has turned into a laboratory for health and wellness powered by data. “Wellness is our product,” says Ellison, speaking as if the secret to good health is achieved through processing bytes of raw data—which, for Ellison, it is. He named his wellness company Sensei, the Japanese word for “master,” and the sensei in Sensei, according to Ellison, is data.
Here are our top picks for “genetic retreats:”
- Sensei Retreat by Four Seasons in Lanai, Hawaii
- Silver Linings Retreat in Kamalame Cay, The Bahamas
- Absolute Sanctuary Fitness in Thailand
- The LifeCo Bodrum in Bodrum, Turkey
When it comes to wellness tourism, the sky is really the limit (until we have our first Martian Wellness retreat, thanks Elon). And these trends will only grow increasingly popular with more options available for all kinds of travelers in the coming years. As Andrew Gibson, a co-founder of the Wellness Tourism Association claims, “I don’t think wellness is a fad, but rather it’s a change in society, and what society now expects. We’ve seen wellness become a full-blown industry.” So the next time you are planning your travel, help yourself feel renewed by embarking on a wellness destination!