It’s easy to talk about wellness but very different to experience it. Wellness is not an isolated event, travel is not just a trip. Combined, wellness travel has followed the experiential route where guests have tried and tested cultural paths, hotels and services. Trends in wellness travel were on the agenda at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, where, together with the Global Wellness Institute, visitors and delegates focused on the subject and were treated to a range of wellness experiences billed as “transformation tourism”.
Transformation travel means making an impression, causing a change, a shift in behaviour and acknowledging it. This trend towards more emotional involvement can be illustrated by “Get Lost” packages, a form of self-survival and the exhilaration that follows from finding one’s self, or from the inward reflection found through monastery wellness. Taking this trend to extremes, smart wellness screening is now available and analyses results with DNA and loads onto an app for lifestyle integration and monitoring.
Travel is moving in a direction to affect travellers from the inside, not the tourist from the outside merely looking in. A visit to the perfume museum in Paris for example is not about a whiff from a bottle but more about identifying a reaction to scents and creating one of your own. At The Retreat Palm Dubai, health can be inhaled from its new oxygen bar with guests opting for certain emotions through essential oils.
Therapies are presented in creative art forms. Colour analysis, laughing yoga, guided visualisation and positive thinking are now integrated into wellness programmes. Singing bowls and gongs are acknowledged as vibration healing and as windows to our health, the art of Iridology charts our organs to assess our body condition.
The ancient Ayurveda medicine retains its importance today, where our health, past and current is examined through pulse diagnosis and traditional treatments prescribed to rebalance our doshas. Recognised by emperors over 3,000 years ago, Chinese medicine is renowned for its natural therapies from herbal concoctions to acupuncture to open the chakras, stimulate the meridian network and activate healing through the body.
And to destinations where wellness lives in a broader context, the diverse cultures of the Caribbean are not found within the spa. Instead wellness is found outdoors in the sunny climes, creating Olympian champions, musicians like Rhiannon and Bob Marley and music genres such as reggae and calypso, providing spiritual and uplifting rhythmic sounds.
The natural resources of Iceland form the backdrop to a new wellness resort heading to its shores where emotional states of contemplation, exposure, confrontation, clarity and enlightenment await those heading to The Red Mountain Resort which is under development. Dramatic architecture entwined with the wild volcanic landscape promises to create a mystical, multi-sensual experience within the solace of a glacier with rain curtains, ice pools and wind tunnels.
Millennials naturally embrace wellness in everyday life and are driving this trend. The younger generation seek elevated experiences that improve on their daily practices. In future we will see more engagement of people’s emotions and immersion into wellness.
Hotels rooms are no longer limited to sleeping dens for business travellers. Hilton Hotels has piloted in-room fitness facilities in selected hotels in America. These fitness kiosks are achieving a high take up, proving that health is high on the wish list for guests rather than sitting back and watching TV with room service. Dubai Health Experience has partnered with Emirates Holidays to offer packages combining medical with tourism to address the growing interest in health travel.
Wellness journeys are moving forward, colliding with cultures and treading pilgrimages to ancient sites. This year sees more mindful walks through amazing territories like the Himalayas and the first multi-lodge wellness circuit with the launch of Six Senses Bhutan, the home to the barometer of happiness. Adding to the Six Senses version of wellness, Anna Bjurstam, VP of Spas & Wellness comments, “While we are heading in several new directions, such as our urban wellness retreats in NYC, a focus on multi-property wellness circuits will be a much bigger priority. People want far more immersive journeys and experiences, particularly wellness travellers: those transformative epiphanies that come from stepping into a story larger than themselves”.
Once upon a time, wellness was known for spa treatments. Today this concept has spread its wings far and wide to invade our lifestyles, transform our habits and immerse us on a wellness journey.
Jane Wilson, Editor of The Healthcare Holiday attended the Arabian Travel Market.
The annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai is the leading travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. The event includes a dedicated Wellness & Spa Lounge for international suppliers and buyers.