The New Niche World of Wellness Travel
While some of us may still dream of a beach vacation where our butts are parked in a poolside lounge chair and we’re sipping a fruity cocktail for seven days straight, many travelers are looking for ways to feel healthier at the end of their vacations. “Wellness travel” or wellness tourism is booming now–expected to grow to $1,672.2 billion by 2030 according to Globe Newswire.
Post-pandemic consumers want to prioritize spending on travel to “improve their well-being,” according to a 2021 trend survey from American Express. And they aren’t simply seeking wellness spas geared to “girlfriends getaways” and “active couple vacations” anymore–travelers have different “wellness wants” and desire personalized, specialized travel customized to their desires and health goals.
In fact, “niche tourism” is growing fast amongst people born between 1991 and 2005, according to GlobalData.com. According to the report, wellness trips focusing on adventure and sports, gastronomy, wellness/medical, eco-friendly travel, and LGBTQ+, grew the most over the past few years.
Here are popular wellness trends you might want to learn about before booking your next trip.
Niche Wellness Travel Trends to Know
Culinary wellness travel
You’ve probably heard of “spa food” (healthy, lighter fare) but wellness retreats are taking customers’ palates to next-level places with signature menus and services. Many offer plant-based meals, cleanses, raw food spa cuisine from gourmet chefs, cooking classes, and nutritional seminars. Where the goal is weight loss, immersing yourself in a different culture’s local cuisine, or helping your gut health through detoxifying cuisine designed to balance the body’s microbiome at the Mountain Trek Resort & Health Spa in Hot Springs, BC, Canada.
Wellness holidays for an entire family
Resorts are encouraging people to bring their kids along for more time together during services like massages, as well as increasing their offerings for kids and teens in their spas–like manicures and hair services. The vacations might incorporate wellness activities like group surf lessons, family golf, and toddler, and parent yoga. We predict we’ll continue to see companies introducing more wellness-focused vacations for the whole family. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai offers customary packages for families that include massages and zip lining, as well as offering kid camps and programs. They also have special welcome amenities for children and babies. Keep in mind that if you want to avoid children while on a wellness retreat, plenty of resorts are adults-only.
Wellness retreats for women of a certain age
If you’re experiencing perimenopause, menopause, or are post-menopausal, the idea of a spa retreat designed to your specific health needs and symptoms probably sounds like heaven. The “menopause vacation” is a wellness travel trend that’s designed to educate women on hormones and learn what they can do to optimize their physical and mental health during this time. There are also plenty of delicious cuisines, massages, fitness classes, and stress-reducing activities built into programs.
Wellness travel that focuses on gut health
If you’re visiting Viome’s site, it’s safe to assume that improving your gut health and overall wellness is on your radar. Wellness destinations are also exploring more ways that their nutrition programs can also support a healthy microbiome and heal the body from the inside out. In the Austrian Alps, Park Igls aims to address that common ailments start in our digestive system and help guests address physical and mental health problems through diet, exercise, and a personalized wellness plan.
Wellness retreats that focus on cutting-edge epigenetics
Epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene expression, is a popular trend that seems here to stay. Knowing more about our physical health through DNA analysis can be extremely valuable as a preventive measure as well as having information to share with our medical professionals when we have a health problem. Spas are hip to the trend and offer educational programs to help customers learn more about their genes through DNA analysis as well as how lifestyle factors play a role. If you want to learn more about your human-microbial ecosystem and gene expression without booking a trip at a pricey retreat, you can get test results without having to leave home.
Wellness tourism that focuses on life transitions
Whether you’re going through a big personal change like a divorce, move, career change, recovering from an illness, or experiencing a personal issue you’d like to work out, now you can do it on a getaway with the help of therapists as well as spa treatments, healthy food, rest, and programs designed to help people through change. Asaya by Rosewood Hotels offers three locations that are designed to help you through a lifestyle change.
Health spas that use Ayurvedic practices
Ayurvedic medicine is a holistic system based on the idea that “disease is due to an imbalance or stress in a person's consciousness,” according to John Hopkins Medicine. Treatment involves natural therapies and lifestyle interventions to heal the body. Ayurveda retreats focus on combining treatments like herbal remedies, yoga, massages, and other wellness initiatives to restore balance. Surya Spa in Santa Monica, Calif., is recognized as a leading wellness center in the Ayurvedic movement that offers therapeutic massage, steam and oil treatments, cooking, yoga, meditation, and other programs.
Wellness tourism that includes pets
Many of us became even more attached to our pets while working from home during the pandemic. Now you can take them with you on a health retreat. This trend is a few steps beyond taking your pup to a dog-friendly hotel while you’re traveling. You’ll see this wellness trend in the form of pet spas and retreats. Sign your dog or cat up for spa treatments, health checkups, and incorporate more walks into their days. Some retreats even have the opportunity to participate in programs such as obedience training and dog training and nutrition classes to help you take better care of your pup. The La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, Calif., features dog stay amenities, acres of walking paths, and they offer a personalized subscription box for pets, to welcome visiting dogs with their own amenities.
Wellness Tourism Market Size to Surpass US$ 1,672.6 Bn by 2030. (2021). Precedence Research, globenewswire.com
Amex Trendex: Consumers Prioritizing Wellness and Mental Health with their Time, Money and Travel Plans. (2021). American Express Newsroom, about.americanexpress.com
Generation Hashtag will be a key driver for niche tourism growth driven by experience economy, according to GlobalData. (2022). Globaldata.com
What is Ayurveda? (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine, hopkinsmedicine.org