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Wellness Travel is Hot in 2016

Design, Tourism

To us in the industry its no surprise that US News and World Report recently reported that wellness travel is one of the fastest-growing trends in the travel industry. Travelers are increasingly seeking holidays that offer wellness services, health-focused initiatives, and nutritious food options. In fact, the segment is expected to continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. Continuing the trends seen from 2012 to 2013 of 12% from $438 to $494 billion2. The segment is loosely divided into Culinary Wellness, Fitness Amenities and Activities, Relaxation Services, and Medical Tourism.

CULINARY WELLNESS

Travelers are increasingly demanding fresh, healthy, organic, and often local food options while on holiday. Chefs are embracing the trend by growing fresh seasonal ingredients on-site in restaurant and rooftop gardens, providing a seasonal, farm-to-table atmosphere. These gardens serve dual purposes by providing a sustainable approach to food production while also allowing the patrons to experience their meal in a more intimate manner. When these gardens are integrated into the design they create destinations of their own.

Hotels, resorts, restaurants, cruise lines, and even airports are increasingly catering to wellness tourists by offering diverse menus of healthy, organic and local menu choices. Recently a hydroponic garden opened in Chicago O’hare International Airport supplying herbs and salad greens to restaurants within the airport.

FITNESS AMENITIES AND ACTIVITIES

The wellness-focused traveler is shifting the concept of wellness not just into state-of-the-art spas but to also include adventure experiences. From rock climbing to surfing to sailing resorts around the Caribbean and the world are offering the most exciting activities guests demand. Recent studies indicate that adrenaline sports like surfing, rock-climbing, and diving are growing in popularity, particularly among female travelers3. Stemming from these active wellness travelers’ needs several resorts are pairing nutritious dining with outdoor activities, sports instruction, and personal fitness consultations.

Properties are also quickly adapting and creating programs to differentiate their brand and appeal to the fitness-minded traveler including by providing workout gear for travelers.

RELAXATION SERVICES

No wellness-minded traveler would argue the restorative value of rest and relaxation during their holiday and properties are quick to service these needs. Sleep-inducing amenities to luxury spa treatments are a mainstay in the wellness traveler repertoire. Scrub Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands, designed by OBM International, was designed with relaxation and luxury in mind with one of the Caribbean’s best luxury spas. Resorts are increasing offering luxurious white glove, personalized spa services in idyllic settings to attract wellness travelers seeking relaxation.

MEDICAL TOURISM

According to Patients Beyond Borders, in 2013 approximately 900,00 Americans traveled overseas for a medical treatment 4, this number does not include the rapidly growing number of travelers who integrate health and wellness into their vacation packages. Whether guests participate in nutrition or fitness education, have medical testing done, or engage in a full medical procedure, packages are designed and personalized to accommodate the medical wellness traveler.

As wellness travel continues to take shape and impact hospitality and tourism industry new business concepts are born, destination needs change and guest activities are redesigned, it is essential to understand and accommodate these guests to remain at the forefront of the guest experience.