Top 10 Wellness Trends for 2017

Writer Catharine Nicol | Published January 10, 2017

While the world went haywire in many different ways, the spa and wellness industry by and large forged ahead. Worth US$563 in 2015 according to the Global Wellness Institute, the forecast predicts this figure will jump to US$808 by 2020. So which trends should we expect in upcoming months and which enduring elements will continue to shape our wellness worlds?

  • Addictive Fitness

    Fitness in 2017 won’t simply continue to be widely available in gyms, hotel and resort fitness centres, retreats’ specialised programmes, online membership platforms and community competitions – it will also be more enticing than ever. Functional fitness is the name of the game with technology stepping in to include lights, sound and action.

    Life Fitness’ treadmill screens already simulate mountain and lakeside runs. Fitness classes already stream through your device. They are coming to your hotel’s fitness studio 24/7 soon, says Andrew Gibson, vice president well-being, luxury brands of Accor Hotels. He has also launched a high-tech Pavigym at the Fairmont Palm, Dubai, where software controlled LED lights and interactive walls spark competition and boost adrenaline while testing coordination, speed and agility, leaving gym-goers craving the next session.

  • Beauty and Technology Infiltrate Spas

    Expect to see more spas turning from the purely natural and holistic to add tech, copying their beauty day spa counterparts. Why? “Before, we shunned beauty,” says Gibson, referring to hotel and resort spas. “Now we realise that money is in beauty, we’ll see more beauty coming to hotel spas.”

    Investing in laser, IPL and other high-techery, the line between spa, beauty and medi-spa will continue to blur. The market wants results and is prepared to pay for them.  Watch out for mere 15-minute zaps of beauty or slimming, ideal for time-poor guests. Spas like Elemis use face-mapping machines to help facialists analyse skin pre-treatment and resorts like Six Senses are using tech to pinpoint guests’ biomarkers in order to identify potential future health issues. Knowledge is valuable.

  • Artisan Skincare

    Following the food movement, skincare is also throwing up some fascinating smaller batch product lines says Cathy Chon of CatchOn, which feel almost ‘homemade’ by family-run businesses. And they often give back as much as they take. Wild Earth Nepal has long produced beautifully created soaps, spa and skincare products from local Nepalese flora. UK’s Ila is bigger, but still maintains that artisan conscience through founder and healer Denise Leicester. Natural and rustic Li’Tya has an artisan mentality, incorporating Australian bush medicine learned from Aboriginal elders, creating a foundation that returns proceeds back to their communities.

    Vanessa Megan Gray is the founder of Australia-based collection Vanessa Megan, and says, “Being artisan is being able to trace ingredients to their origin.” She should know, as she lives on the farm where many of her ingredients are grown and products created. In Hong Kong, look out for PurEarth Himalayan-inspired skincare line and Thank Me Later sunscreens.

  • Family and Community Slant

    As baby boomers are maturing into blue-rinse boomers, the spa industry has increasingly marketed its wares to the ageing population. Pure Yoga is expecting more mature students to be taking them up on their gym and yoga classes, “seeking practices that are gentler and inward,” says Paveena Atipatha, regional director. At the same time, spas are opening their doors to the third generation, with therapies perfect for grandchildren. And with parents sandwiched in between, two- or three-generation spa-ing is growing.

    But what happens when those Millennials are teenagers or older? They swap their families for their friends. This generation are also being targeted when it comes to overall sports performance training. And their addictions to devices link them to like-minded (and hopefully health-aware) communities. Have you noticed the rise in extreme sport competitions like Tough Mudder and Spartan? No coincidence – the community wellness trend will continue to grow.

  • Sleep 101

    So important for health yet frustratingly illusive when jetlag, stress or noise interrupts, sleep has already become a headline issue in the spa and wellness world. So far we have insanely comfortable beds, blackout curtains, mood lighting, pillow menus and spa treatments designed to be soporific. At select Four Seasons hotels you can ask for sleep-inducing music while certain JW Marriott hotels settle you into bed with a pro-serotonin bedtime snack.

    Just launched, Six Senses brought in the expertise of sleep doctor Dr Michael J Breus PhD to help create their Sleep With Six Senses programme. Guests fill out an online questionnaire to help sleep ambassadors pinpoint issues and offer personalised conditions and accessories in-room to ensure a good night’s rest like nose strips and a nasal neti pot to help breathing and avoid snoring, a worry journal to jot down midnight thoughts, a sleep tracker plus app to monitor sleep (reviewed next day) and a USB of videos featuring Dr Breus.

  • DIY Wellness

    As more resources are available, often for free, online or via apps and wearable technology, DIY wellness will go off the charts. Team sports, group retreats, home facials – if we had the time, access and finances to do them for real we probably would.  Along with scores of others, MyPureYoga has an array of complimentary yoga classes available. “Nothing replaces the energy and atmosphere of a group class, and the personalised adjustments of an expert teacher,” says Atipatha of Pure Yoga. “However, MyPureYoga offers the next best thing when you can’t get to the studio.”

    Apps and online videos can teach us how to eat, move and think for optimum health. Personal training via a wearable fitness tracker racks up data that pushes wearers to do ever better. Blending the boundaries between fitness and spa, foam rolling offers an increasingly popular way to release muscular tension. Yamuna Body Rolling workshops at Flex Studio in Hong Kong introduce students to an app that helps them include a daily practice at home.

  • Suite Dreams

    As if there weren’t enough room categories to choose from, here is another – the wellness suite. Hard Rock Hotels upgrade their suites to ‘healing suites’ with the simple addition of a yoga mat and iPad loaded with yoga and meditation sessions, while W Hotels have enlisted celeb yogini Tara Stiles to create exclusive in-room classes for their guests.

    Going a Warrior II lunge beyond, the future Vitality Suite has just been unveiled at Gibson’s Swissôtel Zurich in Switzerland. We’re talking spa-grade Dornbracht bathroom technology, a minibar turned refreshment centre with local superfoods and fruit, a Wellbeing Wall of fitness equipment plus cyber trainer for in-room workout sessions, circadian lighting, planet-kind materials and furnishings and mountain fresh air.

  • Healthy Cruising

    Cruise spas are popular places, and increasingly passengers are encouraged to book appointments before stepping aboard. The good news is that spas are taking up growing amounts of ship real estate. Spa design is amping up too, case in point the spectacular design of Viking Ocean Cruises Liv Nordic Spa’s thermal suite (free for all guests).

    Wellness activities are going mainstream, like Seabourn’s mind-body classes in partnership with Dr Andrew Weil. And F&B is being infiltrated too. The Samsara Spa aboard Costa neoRomantica not only includes a Temple of Peace meditation room, their Samsara Restaurant serves healthy spa cuisine, as do Celebrity Cruises’ Canyon Ranch SpaClub’s Aqua Spa Cafés.

    Fitness options are becoming exciting with Royal Caribbean ship Quantum of the Seas adding surf waves and skydive simulators. And of course you always have mental and spiritual calm courtesy of the ocean.

  • Workspace Wellness

    The customer always comes first…Still applicable? Workplace wellness is giving this adage a 180-degree U-turn and focusing on the spa’s/hotel’s/resort’s staff. Prioritise the well-being of your staff and they will better focus on the well-being of your guests resulting in greater well-being for…the bottom line, says Dr Cherisse Yang of Clearlight Asia.

    Wellness for staff comes in all shapes and sizes in enlightened companies but will spread, and fast we hope – from healthy canteens to team-building bootcamp, yoga and meditation sessions and active participation in CSR initiatives.

    Lisa Starr of Wynne Consulting quotes a Global Wellness Initiative study when she shares that companies with worksite wellness programmes experience an eight per cent increase in employee productivity, 25 per cent reduction in absenteeism and 25 per cent reduction in health costs, among other benefits.

  • Planet Focus

    As it starts to dawn on us that interaction with nature is good for us, we realise we need to be good to nature in return. And it doesn’t hurt that the UN’s General Assembly designated 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. At EarthCheck, Andre Russ reports that early reports of the virtual reality Great Barrier Reef experience indicate that even a virtual holiday in nature is beneficial for the mind and body. He adds that across the world corporates are showing increasing interest in environmental and sustainable innovations.

    In Hong Kong, the recent Zero Waste Alliance of Restaurants has gathered 15 cafes and restaurants piloting the project, hoping to eventually inspire the rest of the city’s eateries. Meanwhile, Ecozine magazine’s recent summit discussed recycle parks, repair cafes and refusing to plastic bags, packaging, straws, excess food, fast fashion and electronics.