The latest wellness trends - also for your hotel?

Are you prepared for what is more and more on your guests wish-list? Cryotherapy freezing, Niksen -doing nothing, Otonamaki – bed sheet wrapping, and Shirin Yoku - a sensorial forest experience. A look at the current, future and worldwide wellness trends.

Text: Karen Cop // FOTOS: iStock

Let go, recharge your battery, gently awaken your senses – wellness has become a goal on everyone’s to-do list. Work-weary people are yearning less for classic holidays, but about holistic wellness experiences. "Wellness with an effect" was the focus of the Wellness Trends Report 2019 published by the German Wellness-Hotels and Resorts GmbH.

Sustainable wellness

The report states that time-outs should be meaningful and sustainable. "After all, guests not only want to experience rejuvenation during their wellness holidays, they also want to benefit from it in the long term. More than 70 percent of those questioned in the association’s survey hope for a lasting effect on their everyday lives." Millennials expect experiences and treatments that are physically and mentally "uplifting": meditation mixed with detox, nature experiences united with conscious nutrition, revived traditional healing methods combined with sauna, steam bath, or hammam ... a whole "wellness landscape" ideally. According to the study’s results, 54 percent of up to 39-year-olds expect some sort of a "holistic experience", 51.6 percent "individual coaching", and almost 20 percent an "immediate effect on their wellness holiday".

Around half of the hoteliers surveyed stated that demand had risen compared to the previous year. Of those, 85 percent have invested or are investing in the expansion of rooms, their wellness areas, and gastronomy.
(see chart(s))

Traditional bathing culture in modern spas

From Americans booking pampering oases to rejuvenate and reinvigorate to the expanding Chinese market, this wellness trend is confirmed on a global scale. Beth McGroarty, with the Research and Forecasting Department for the Global Wellness Summit and the Global Wellness Institute indicates "Due to the size of the market and its growing middle class, we are observing an increased impact of Chinese guests on the global wellness industry." In other words, traditional ways of healing are combined with modern spa concepts. Just outside Shanghai, for example, the Aman Group opened Amanyangyun this year: an ancient, rebuilt village covering 2,840 square meters/30,000 square feet, where traditional Chinese medicine is complemented with Russian and Moroccan therapeutic bathing rituals.

In Croatia, the development of wellness tourism is being promoted with government support. According to the investment program, the small town of Varaždinske Toplice, is projected to become their pinnacle destination for health tourism. Here, too, a traditional bathing culture is brought back to life in combination with a new, modern appearance.

Results of the Global Wellness Summit

Each year, the Global Wellness Summit identifies the latest trends affecting the $4.2 trillion wellness industry. The convening experts were able to gauge how worldwide awareness of sustainability and a natural, healthy lifestyle is growing. "Sugar Detox" is one of the trending topics. Food and nutrition, the Summit showed, can no longer be dealt with separately from holistic wellness concepts. Increasingly, people are expecting offers that take into account their individual eating habits or food intolerances. After all, the industry has long since adjusted to this. For example, gluten was hardly an issue a decade ago, by 2017 the market volume of gluten-free products has been estimated by Zion Market Research at 4.7 trillion dollars. Meanwhile, many spa destinations take saliva swabs from their guests upon arrival and provide them with individualized all-inclusive meals and fitness programs adapted to their personal needs.

Wellness trends new and old

There are also easier and cheaper ways to meet the demand for individualized and new offerings. Ways that small wellness oases and medium-sized hotels can easily adapt and follow. With an app like "Calorie Mama AI", for example, your guests are able to keep track of their caloric intake in order to maintain their diet even while on business trips. All they have to do is take a picture of their food. Artificial Intelligence will then analyze the photo, display the ingredients and calories of the meal.

Sleep therapies that combine old and new techniques to promote restful sleep are on the rise. Apps suggest optimized sleeping hours and provide guests with a soundtrack consisting of nature sounds choreographed to fit various sleep phases.

There are a number of new trends: the Japanese technique of "Otonamaki" wrapping guests tightly in sheets like babies. This relaxes the body and supposedly helps with back pain. "Niksen" is a trend from the Netherlands, where wellness seekers practice doing nothing to encourage daydreaming and letting their thoughts wander aimlessly. Another trend from Japan is “Shirin Yoku“ or forest bathing which is the process of strolling in a forest absorbing through one’s senses the sights, sounds, smells etc. These are examples of what most experts in the wellness industry are noticing, there is a great yearning for relaxation.

Beauty treatments, on the other hand, are less in demand, although the industry is increasingly targeting and attracting men with special treatments. According to Wellness Trends 2019, "only just over 10 percent associate wellness with beauty applications." Ten years ago, a third of all wellness guests were primarily interested in more beauty treatments. It looks like one thing is for sure - now, beauty is coming from the inside.

* The data is collected yearly between December and February of the following year by Wellness-Hotels and Resorts GmbH in a survey. For the 2019 survey 3,721 wellness-minded guests and 124 hoteliers with wellness focus were surveyed.


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