The wellness industry is huge. The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) reported that wellness tourism was worth $639 billion worldwide in 2017. By 2022 they predict European spend alone to hit $275 billion. The GWI describes people’s quest for wellness as “evolving from rarely to daily, from episodic to essential, from a luxury to a dominant lifestyle value. And that profound shift is driving powerful growth.” What does this mean for your hotel?
You need to be taking wellness seriously, but there’s no need to panic… forget holistic resorts, posh marble interiors and Scandi saunas. Wellness needn’t be flashy or expensive. This isn’t a shopping list for creating a wellness-friendly hotel: there is no such thing. Tapping into wellness is about infusing your hospitality with an appreciation for life, and for all that money can’t buy.
Some hoteliers splash out on state-of-the-art hydro-pools and other high-end facilities, but many of your best wellness assets are free. Plenty of hotels don’t have a hydro-pool but are near lakes, rivers, or the sea. Water is a key element of wellness and if you have access to it, encourage your guests to pay attention to its beauty. The way the light shifts on its surface; the lulling movement and sound of its ripples and waves; the health benefits of bracing sea air and cold-water swimming.
You can do the same with other environments. Forest Bathing for example, or Shinrin Yoku to the Japanese, is a form of environmental immersion. Participants spend time in forests within a state of silent meditation, breathing in immune boosting phytoncides released by the trees.
Do you have a green space near you? Or just a function room gathering dust? You can utilise these spaces by partnering with freelancers. Wellness activities that can be outsourced to specialists include forest bathing, yoga, pilates, meditation, water sports, arts and crafts, foraging… the list goes on. Contact local freelancers and see if working together could benefit you both.
You can also run activities inhouse. The opportunities are diverse. For instance, you could organise seasonal foraging walks— followed by a cookery class, or drinks workshop. Think delicious wild garlic pesto and elderflower cordial for your guests to take home.
The popularity of the wellness trend comes from people’s rejection of rampant commercialisation. The desire is for authentic experiences over the fake veneer of generic services. In their leisure time, many of the younger generation are choosing to, quite literally, try their hand at ancient manual skills such as woodwork and bush craft. These hands-on, creative activities relieve the over-digitalisation of their working lives. Driven by their need for optimum wellness and equilibrium, during their downtime they are seeking a fulfilling and restorative experience.
People are particularly receptive to wellness in hotels, because holidays offer respite from life’s demands and a brief taste of slow living. Slow living is a mentality linked to wellness that emphasises doing things well, rather than fast. To really embrace the slow pace of wellness, provide a device box in each room so guests can try a digital detox during their stay. These are increasingly popular. People trying them report sleeping better, feeling calmer, and being more present afterwards. You can participate in their wellness simply by making your rooms detox-friendly.
Above all, don’t stress out about our collective craze for wellness. Being empathic to your guests’ needs and meeting them on a human level is the essence of wellness. There’s much to be excited about too. Your guests care about this trend and you can engage with them by tapping into it. Plus, because wellness embraces non-commodified, freely available things, engaging with it is low-cost and high reward. The market growth is not slowing, so right now doing hospitality well is doing wellness, well.