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Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Niche Tourism -

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.

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