Backup meets NEW! Backup Plus
medical- based holidays, while younger populations trend towards active and results- oriented holidays that provide a balance between fun and fitness.
“Back in the day, wellness travel was focused on the notion of spas,” says Anne Banas, executive editor of Smarter Travel. “But now, it’s really expanded into this area of experiential travel, with a combination of well- being, fitness and soulful, spiritual experiences as well as working on the mind- body connection.”
MODERN DISEASES DRIVE THE WELLNESS SECTOR
The global crisis in obesity and Type II diabetes and preventable non- communicable disease is another contributing factor that will continue to drive this segment as both individuals and countries address the alarming rates over the next few years. According to a study published in 2007 from the International Journal of Health Sciences, more than 1.7 billion adults worldwide are overweight and approximately 18 million people die every year from disease with underlying factors related to diabetes and hypertension.
Another report by the same journal published in World J Diabetes 2012 reported that Asian countries contribute to more than 60% of the world’s diabetic population as the prevalence of Type II diabetes continues to rise. The number of adults aged 20- 70 years with Type II diabetes is expected to rise from 285 million in 2010 to 438 million by the year 2030. India and China have the greatest numbers of peo- ple in Asia with diabetes and are likely to remain in this position until 2025 with an estimated 20 million affected individuals.
Jean- Claude Baumgarten of the World Travel & Tourism Council comments: “Wellness tourism is poised to reshape tourism as we know it. So many 21st century forces are fueling it, including the rise of chronic diseases and the unprecedented stress of modern life. What people want to achieve during their ever diminished time off is undergoing a sea change, with millions more every year demanding destinations that deliver physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental health along with enjoyment.”
With figures like these, it is easy to see why the luxury and wellness sector is growing exponentially and developing to meet the needs of this market. Ophelia Yeung from SRI echoes this sentiment: “All across the world from Asia to Europe to Africa to North America, more and more people are consciously thinking about healthy food, exercising, looking to nature, getting massages and doing yoga,” she shared. Ophelia Yeung is a senior consultant for SRI International and is one of the leaders on the Global Impact of Wellness Tourism study.
THE RISE OF WELLNESS RETREATS GLOBALLY AND IN THAILAND
Industry response globally has been diverse and an increase has been seen in both wellness options available in international hotel chains as well as indepen- dent companies and resorts that have developed niche cruises, retreats, escapes and holiday packages. The market is well represented with everything from weight loss retreats, to detoxes, hiking holidays, skydiving and scuba adventure packages. Companies that are responsive to dietary restrictions such as halal, vegan and vegetarian are also gaining in popularity and customized services such as health and medical assessments with personal coaching services are highly coveted.
Examples in the USA include the Four Seasons Westlake Village near Malibu, California which offers a medical program called The Ranch Integrative Lifestyle Physical, which does comprehensive assessment tests of metabolic rates, body composition and life- balance to design a culinary and fitness regimen based on client’s individual needs and medical history. Similarly, The Mandarin Oriental properties also feature a Healthy Living program through the Mayo Clinic where guests have their body composition, stress and posture evaluated while enjoying a bevy of wellness classes along with nutritious meals, health classes and rejuvenating spa treatments. Globally, wellness holidays that respond to stress management and weight loss are always popular.
More people than ever are looking for ways to combine their desire to “get away from it all” with getting in shape and taking care of their health. As the previous statistics have shown, Asian destinations
rank high on the list of desired locations and Thailand is a consistent top choice. Based in Bangkok Thailand, Lifestyle Health Retreats ( LHR) is another pioneering company that is leading the way with Asia’s first and only DNA Fitness Retreats. Partnered exclusively with Minor Group and Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, they use the latest cutting edge science and technology to take the guess work out of nutrition and fitness planning in order to customize a wellness approach based on the unique genes of the individual client. Retreats are available in Thailand, Maldives and the U. A. E. and they are dedicated to creating unforgettable, lifeenhancing and transformational retreats.
The current line of successful wellness programs include Diabetes Reversal Retreats with Personalized Genetic Testing, Fitness & Weight Loss Retreats and Yoga Retreats with DNA testing. All retreats also include a minimum of 4 hours a day of physical activity along with daily seminars on health, nutrition, and fitness along with personalized coaching and 30 days of free post retreat coaching for guests when they return home. Facilitated by licensed consultants and medical physicians, endocrinologists, nutritionists, naturopaths, fitness experts and wellness practitioners, clients learn how to manage energy, maximize longevity and improve quality of life.
Another local solution in Thailand is Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa in Koh Samui. They help guests reconnect with self and nature while becoming more balanced. This award winning spa and resort offers a holistic wellness experience with inspired healthy cuisine, holistic fitness practices and customized wellness programs including Detoxification, Stress & Burnout, Optimal Fitness, Ideal Weight, Yoga Synergy and Emotional Balance.
These companies along with countless others understand that it is often the intangibles that consumers are responding to. Clients are much more savvy and educated about what they are looking for, and experiences that they can feel good about are high on their list. Instead of spending money on toys or possessions, spending resources on personal health and wellness is a trend that will continue to resonate with travelers. Global brands like Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental will continue to expand wellness divisions in response to the market, and independent companies like Kamalaya and Lifestyle Health Retreats will be breaking new ground and honing their services in response to the demands of their clients. Brands that can connect with consumers and strike the right emotional cords for meeting needs, exceeding expectations and offering more bespoke and customized experiences will likely thrive in this lucrative niche growth market of the travel sector for years to come.
Melissa Richter is Global Brands Manager at Lifestyle Health Retreats. She can be contacted at mel@ lhretreats. com.