Throughout history, different cultures have had different interests in ‘wellness’. To some, it was the antithesis of illness and the warding off of disease. To others, it was the tenet that would help define their approach to life, from Hippocrates and the Ancient Greeks to the 5,000-year old tradition of Ayurveda.
During the 1990s, wellness became something of a mainstream fad, characterised by pseudo-science and overpriced retreats. But not anymore.
Today, travellers care much more about their wellbeing. What was once considered a vague concept on the fringes of hospitality has become an absolute must-have, and hotel brands and travel companies who don’t embrace and prioritise it might well lose out in the long run.
For many of us, our constantly-connected world involves staring at endless screens and relentless online communication. The inability to disconnect is sending stress levels soaring, but at the same time having social media and the world’s global knowledge at our fingertips has conversely increased awareness of the significance of physical and mental health.
So, what constitutes ‘wellness’ now in the high-end travel industry? And why is it so important?
Once upon a time, half a grapefruit at breakfast and a sauna would have constituted a wellness programme, but travellers today expect brands to be at the cutting-edge of wellness trends. Innovation is key, and the proof is in the pudding, with wellness tourism’s annual value estimated to be $639 billion.
Wellness still includes access to spa treatments, relaxation areas, gyms and adding superfoods to menus—but it’s no longer limited to it. In order to meet clients’ wellness needs, hotels must ensure they have considered every aspect of a traveller’s stay.
Wellness is giving guests a pillow menu, because one size does not fit all, and allergies won’t lead to a restful night’s sleep. It is offering biodynamic wines, plant-based menu choices and organic ingredients to avoid chemicals and uphold an eco-friendly lifestyle. It’s ensuring classes and treatments are personalised to individual body, skin and character types, so guests feel they’re being considered all the way through their stay.
Of course, it’s not news that an important part of excellent service is making a client believe the brand has their best interests at heart—but wellness is fast becoming the key to doing so. Investment in wellness is an investment in customers, and it’s one that will pay off.