With stressful lives, overworked populations and a general global unrest, wellness has become a guiding light for the hospitality industry. They have pampered their faithful clients and wooed an entire generation of holiday seekers with products and services that conform to the highest standards of wellness. Within the wellness space too there has been a lot of debate, discussion and reinvention as guests became more discerning and selective.
The Global Wellness Summit has in recent years emerged as a key platform for some of these wellness trends to be refined. The 2017 edition held in Kitzbühel, Austria, brought together more than 500 leaders from as many as 46 countries representing the travel, spa, beauty, fitness, nutrition, technology, medical and architecture fields to shortlist eight wellness trends for 2017.
Many of the old concepts were challenged as experts brainstormed on ways in which they could expand some of their products and refine existing ones. A new era for wellness seems to have dawned with eight strong contenders vying for space.
Moving from an intimate to a sociable sauna experience
Saunas have been around for thousands of years. History accounts have detailed descriptions of kings and warriors in Central and Eastern Europe having a sauna before readying for battle or other state functions in enclosures that were akin to amphitheatres.
According to wellness experts, the repackaged sauna experience will be the biggest wellness trend of 2017 and these will move away from the earlier preference of intimate and private saunas to the theatrical and spectacular. Mostly, the sweatier the sauna is and the more socialisation it provides, the more in demand it is going to be. We are going to see more of communal saunas which are designed like large amphitheaters where 50-300 people can sweat together relaxing with music, food, bars, and talks on art and culture. Sauna events and sauna hangouts will be popular with a music DJ and bar thrown in the “hot box” which is the sauna itself. Saunas will also turn into “urban sweat lodges” offering infrared treatments.
Contrast therapy would also be popular with clients taking a cold/snow plunge after and repeating the same to get their endorphins pumping. Medical experts have given a thumbs up to saunas with benefits for those wanting to alleviate aches and pains and other cardiovascular problems. According to doctors, there has been a marked improvement in patients with cardio problems who have turned to saunas on a regular basis. Other smaller studies have shown a clear link between longevity and sauna use.
Transitioning of architecture to “living properties”
There has been a fair amount of churning with respect to what could possibly comprise of Wellness Architecture. In 2017 there is a clear direction here, moving away from surface aesthetics produced by “starchitects” who design more to wow and shock to those who create “living buildings” that improve the health of the humans living within.
Phone apps will be created to alert guests halting them from entering “sick” buildings that are likely to cause depression, breathing problems and other mood altering phenomena. Also, dawn-simulating lighting will ease guests into the different seasonal and climate driven changes creating an evenness that is important for a calm and collected state of mind.
Clearly, everything that is being built is getting reengineered and repurposed, from indoor air quality to sleep and
acoustics. Marketing these hitherto intangible concepts is becoming a lot easier as guests value their significance and are willing to shell big bucks for the same.
Distancing from noise to stillness and silence
While guests are going to find it hard to switch off from the noise around them, whether it is due to the crowds, vehicles, their mobile phones or laptops, they are going to make a beeline to places that help them create a downtime for their minds and bodies.
Silent spas, wellness monasteries and “down-time abbeys” will in all likelihood be big in 2017. These silent resorts, spas and wellness centres are going to draw from the contemplative values of ancient
cultures and scriptures creating a deep soul connect with each of their guests. Silent rooms, suites and restaurants, gyms and shopping arcades will surface and be in demand. Most international airports are already moving in the silent direction by using signages and computerised screens to display messages that they would otherwise have been announcing.
Just as there are people who want to fill their loneliness with people and noise, there are as many who want to run away from it all and seek their private haven of tranquillity, silence and contemplative environment.
Personalised journey of art and creativity
From admiring art works on walls and interiors, wellness resorts will strive to make art a more intimate experience for guests. They will hold classical concerts, art appreciation talks and organise intensive painting classes at hotels, wellness retreats, spas and studios. These options will be woven into the regular hotel schedule, allowing guests to experience art while continuing with their other pre-commitments and chores.
Yoga concerts will blend fitness and inner silence with music, live classical violin concerts and beginners classes under star spangled skies. These will find an audience as some of these ideas bear fruition. Activity based wellness tourism that gets you to mingle with locals, see their art and craft closely and listen to folklore that goes back hundreds of years will have a fascination all its own.
Inner beauty will continue to be a focus area
The fashion and beauty industry has been a huge driver for the wellness industry. This will see a marked shift to exploring options that strengthen inner beauty. In demand will be food, drinks, cosmetics and medicines that nourish and enrich the soul and the body from inside.
Chemical based products will be a strict NO and organic or natural will be sought after. The concept of “neuroaesthetics” where the brain is wired to respond to beauty will see a translation into the way spas and salons are designed and beauty is repackaged.
Moving from physical to mental wellness
The pressures of modern life are forcing people to demand more from their bodies and now increasingly their minds too. There is a growing consciousness about the wear and tear that the mind is going through and the need to nourish it and set it right before it degenerates into a more permanent kind of disorder.
This has built a case for a new breed of neuroscientists and psychotherapists who can work with wellness seekers, identifying their issues and helping them to overcome them as they navigate a more balanced and normal life.
Meditation, reflection, introspection, resilience and tolerance will be talked about as tech apps are developed to map and monitor the mental state. Special attention would be paid to depression and performance anxiety, the two biggest issues faced by millennials and seniors.
Panacea for those with the dreaded C condition
Cancer is the dreaded word in the health and wellness sector. The epidemic like proportions of all kinds of cancer have forced the wellness industry to cater to this large underserved population.
They are setting up special “Nurture and Support” programmes that combine oncological aesthetics and mindful therapies that serve the heart, mind, soul and body. Cancer patients themselves, their families and caregivers are showing interest in the offerings, willing to invest in programs that can provide comfort and succour to their loved ones.
Taking wellness to the masses With wellness acquiring an aspirational quality that goes beyond the elite to the masses, properties are looking at catering to a segment that seem to have been lagging for quite some time.
Apart from looking at volume, they are also being driven by a desire to give back to society and to reduce the gap between the have’s and have not’s. Value offerings that combine good health practices with soulful and inner rejuvenation packages are being specially customised to suit this part of the pie.
Stay tuned to World Travel Magazine’s social media feeds and digital editions as we explore the global wellness trends in detail during the course of this year.
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