Well­ness Travel: It’s More Than Just Stay­ing Fit On The Road

Riverbank News - - NEIGHBORHOOD VALUES -

FORT LAUD­ERDALE, Fla. — It’s one thing when ho­tels open fit­ness cen­ters, but quite an­other when fit­ness cen­ters open ho­tels.

Luxe gym Equinox is open­ing a ho­tel in New York’s new Hud­son Yards neigh­bor­hood next year in a move that em­bod­ies the evo­lu­tion of well­ness travel.

Most ho­tels have beefed up fit­ness op­tions — you can book rooms with sta­tion­ary bikes and rent work­out clothes — but well­ness travel has be­come much more than just keep­ing fit while on the road. In­creas­ingly it’s be­come the point of the jour­ney. And it’s bring­ing in big dol­lars.

Whether it’s for­ag­ing for your own medic­i­nal herbs in Peru, cy­cling across the Cal­i­for­nia coast­line or spend­ing sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars to work­out along­side celeb trainer Tracy An­der­son in Aspen, Colorado, well­ness tourists made 691 mil­lion trips in 2015, ac­cord­ing to the Global Well­ness In­sti­tute.

In the past, well­ness va­ca­tions strad­dled be­tween star­va­tion-style boot­camps or re­lax­ing spa week­ends to detox from an un­healthy life­style. But as self-care has evolved into a daily goal, it’s found an ob­vi­ous match in travel. In­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic well­ness tourism brought in $563 bil­lion in 2015, up from $489 bil­lion in 2013, ac­cord­ing to the Global Well­ness In­sti­tute. Well­ness travel is ex­pected to grow to $808 bil­lion by 2020.

The travel trend has mir­rored the shift in re­tail. Gone are the days when shop­pers head to a brick-and-mor­tar store to buy shoes that they could buy on­line. In­stead, they’re be­ing lured to stores by ex­pe­ri­ences.

Sim­i­larly, va­ca­tion­ers are less ex­cited about ly­ing on the beach with um­brella drinks. They too want a more im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence, like a yoga med­i­ta­tion re­treat or surf camp, to con­nect with oth­ers and re­vi­tal­ize them­selves, ex­perts say.

“(Fit­ness has) gone from be­ing an ac­tiv­ity to now it’s a des­ti­na­tion. It’s a pur­pose,” said Mar­shal Co­hen, an an­a­lyst for the trend group NPD. “That’s a huge shift in spend­ing. We’re not build­ing wardrobes anymore. We’re build­ing mem­o­ries and the pho­tos we’re click­ing on our phones and post­ing on so­cial me­dia are the fruits of our la­bor.”

The Cur­tain Bluff re­sort in An­tigua launched a new well­ness concierge where guests can meet with the team at no ex­tra charge to de­sign their own fit­ness pro­gram in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing from zumba to pi­lates. Aman­puri’s re­sort in Phuket, Thai­land, cre­ated four well­ness im­mer­sions, where guests can fo­cus on fit­ness, weight loss, diges­tive cleanses or men­tal aware­ness dur­ing a three- to 14-night va­ca­tion. Of­fer­ings in­clude reiki, an al­ter­na­tive stressre­duc­tion ther­apy, and life­coach­ing.

The trend is even spilling over to cruises, once stereo­typed as weight-gain­ing va­ca­tions with bot­tom­less buf­fets. Now, well­ness can be the point of the cruise. Holland Amer­ica Line, in part­ner­ship with O, The Oprah Mag­a­zine, has pro­grams for med­i­ta­tion and healthy liv­ing.

Cruise pas­sen­gers can also com­bine well­ness with sight­see­ing in ports of call. Take a shore ex­cur­sion on a Re­gents Seven Seas cruise, for ex­am­ple, and you might end up do­ing yoga on a coco- nut plan­ta­tion in Ko Sa­mui, Thai­land, or out­door tai chi in Mar­seille, France, with a view of the sea on one side and a palace on the other.

PHOTO COUR­TESY LAKE TAHOE YOGA

Sev­eral yoga stu­dios such as Lake Tahoe Yoga of­fer yoga ses­sions on pad­dle­boards.

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