As personal health and wellness initiatives continue to gain momentum by leaps and bounds, travelers are taking a stand and refusing to sacrifice their latest lifestyle changes when they leave home. For the last five years I've worked in the wellness travel industry both with consumers looking for healthier vacations and businesses that are catering to this growing market. Here are the top trends on my radar for 2015:
1) Conscious spending will influence millennial vacation picks
Gone are the days when millennial travelers book the cheapest fight to the beach to drink themselves into oblivion during their week of freedom. Instead this group of travelers spends time hunting the Internet for travel opportunities that will render their experience as exploratory instead of favoring the typical tourist track. In the next twelve months we'll continue to see an uptick in spending for customized vacations that offer authentic local experiences and vacations with a social responsibility angle such as staying in eco-friendly properties or asking if hotel restaurants cater to specific dietary needs and environmental practices.
2) Doubling your Fitbit goals on vacation
Setting and tracking fitness goals is moving beyond your daily life in a big way. The outpouring of wearable tracking technology aimed at following fitness, sleep, and healthcare goals by balancing hours sitting at your desk and getting up to move became popular in 2014. As we continue to increase our life-work balance, travelers are aiming to increase their healthy goals on holiday. Fitness tracking junkies will look to try and double their goals on vacation by exploring cities via borrowed bicycles, renting Stand up Paddleboards instead of sitting to sip margaritas on the sand, or taking advantage of the numerous hotel wellness offerings that are emerging (see below).
3) Taking a picture with your mind
Documenting every second of your life on social media has become the norm, but Dr. Linda Henkel of Fairfield University has warned of the 'photo-taking impairment effect' where you outsource your memory of an experience to an external device instead of experiencing it first hand. In the past few months, Pravassa's wellness travelers have opted to put away their camera phones and make an effort to engage more in an activity instead of just photographing it for later. This had led our travelers to have richer vacation memories and experience emotional benefits such as stress-reduction as they no longer have to worry about capturing a shot. More people will opt to put away their digital devices in 2015 and make a true connection.
4) International hotel chains embrace wellness
Spas and massage treatments have long been fixtures in the hotel industry; first as add-on amenities and now as a driving force to set them apart from the competition. This year two recognizable chains, Westin and the Four Seasons Hotel Group, made wellness a top priority by introducing programs aimed at reducing travel stress and increasing well-being with custom programs that offer everything from juice bars and healthy menu options to providing optimal sleeping conditions and work spaces. As we head into 2015 keep your eyes open for more hotel chains to embrace wellness by creating custom offerings that showcase their local wellness standouts.
5) Hotels constructing rooms to increase wellness
Having maps that show running trails and yoga mats at guests disposal is a wonderful way to increase travelers wellness at a minimal expense to the hotel. Yet there are a few companies taking wellness a step further and investing large sums of capital to increase wellness in the structure of their hotel rooms.
Delos Living launched their Stay Well Rooms at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in 2012. Starting with 42 rooms, the wellness offerings range from vitamin C-infused showers to wake-up light therapy, and air purification systems. The program has proved so successful that in 2014 MGM transformed an entire floor, 171 rooms, into Stay Well Rooms to keep up with the booking demand. They are expanding the wellness approach to common spaces and just launched the Stay Well meeting rooms.
InterContinental Hotels Group launched EVEN hotels, the first hotel brand designed around traveler's wellness. The brand offers living walls, naturally flavored water, in-room training zones, and standing work desks. With two hotels operating on the East Coast, they have plans to add three more in New York City in 2015.
Next year hotels across the globe will adopt more wellness friendly practices such as replacing carpet with wood floors, creating light therapy offerings, and adding air purification systems.
6) Celebrity Fitness Trainers form partnerships with hotels
Hotel fitness centers have been revamped in recent years to offer sleek sexy spaces to workout, as travelers demanded options that did not leave them relegated to the basement. To further attract clientele and keep them coming back, high-end hotels have partnered with celebrity fitness trainers to create exclusive wellness content for their guests.
W Hotels Worldwide partnered with New York yoga instructor Tara Stiles to create FIT, an in-room curated fitness program as well as hosted Ms. Stiles at four of its properties for an in-person approach. The Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, London has Ruben Tabares, an in-demand trainer to celebrities such as Naomi Watts and Sean "P Diddy" Combs, to create bespoke packages for guests and locales alike. These programs have proved successful and have generated welcome social media buzz for the hotel properties as well as the programs. In the coming year more international brands will jump on the celebrity fitness bandwagon in an effort to offer exclusive wellness amenities to travelers.
7) Spa and Wellness Resorts are creating programs aimed at business executives
Innovation in the spa and wellness resort industry in 2014 has focused on better sleep, stress-reduction, lifestyle rebooting, and fertility at properties across the globe. In 2015 will see these programs expand further to become customized and tailored into offerings that target high level, high-stressed business executives.
Both Canyon Ranch and VeraVia in the US have begun offering these programs to executives. Interweaving fitness, nutrition, and medical programs with real life outings such as learning how to shop in the grocery store. Programs will continue to surface that address the needs of busy CEOs and VPs and will go further in 2015 to include follow up video calls and in-office consultations and check-ups to make sure executives are staying on track.
8) Airports expand their wellness offerings
For years travelers have complained that staying well while traveling is impossible because even airports do not offer any healthful options. Many large terminals heard the call and added wellness offerings this year in the form of yoga rooms - San Francisco International, Dallas Fort Worth, and Helsinki; indoor green space - Dubai International and Singapore's Changi; and healthy restaurants - Real Food Daily's vegan to-go at LAX and organic sustainable fare from Plant Café at SFO.
In the coming year, smaller scale airports will go local and seasonal when they choose to purchase locally sourced food and beverage options for their restaurants. This shift will not only add to travelers' wellness options, but also provide a tourism-marketing platform, which will showcase their city's offerings.