Whether we like it or not, life hasn’t been the same since the outbreak of Covid-19. International travel is off the table, surgical masks have become part of our everyday attire and working from home and zoom calls have become the new normal.
But it’s not all gloom and doom. As a result of social distancing and travel restrictions, billions of people are being asked to stay at home, giving rise to the emergence of virtual wellness. Live streaming workouts are becoming more popular than ever, spas are offering virtual skincare consultations. Inevitably, the pandemic has forced us to pay attention to our personal health and wellbeing. This has got us thinking: what will wellness travel look like once restrictions are lifted?
As wellness becomes more relevant than ever in the post-Covid climate, we’re entering a new era of wellness hospitality—one that approaches wellness as a lifestyle, rather than a transient experience. As the world slowly opens up again, we turned to Dervla Louli, globetrotter and founder of luxury wellness travel booking portal and online publication Compare Retreats, for her predictions on how wellness travel will evolve post Covid-19.
Hygiene comes first
Compare Retreats’ partner properties are taking extra hygiene and sanitation precautions as they anticipate the arrival of guests post Covid-19. Blood tests on arrival for guests, hands-free wellness therapies such as sound healing, disinfected vehicles, social distancing on site, VIP through security and customs, regular tests for staff, and new immunity-boosting retreats are just a few measures being put in place. In terms of technology, pre- and post- consultations can now happen virtually and there’s an added emphasis on connecting before and after retreats with guests. iPads are replacing printed spa and restaurant menus and new extreme hygiene protocols are being put in place in spas and fitness facilities.
Domestic tourism will surge
It makes perfect sense to predict a surge in domestic tourism. Hong Kong is a wonderful example of a city where staycations are very much the norm and people are taking the opportunity to indulge in spa escapes in the heart of the city. The spa suite at Asaya in the Rosewood Hotel is now open for spacations, the Four Seasons outdoor pool and family-friendly staycation options are incredibly popular, The Upper House’s wellness activations and revitalising menu are a firm favourite with clients, and both The Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental are perfect for indulgent wellness and spa escapes.
Wellness beyond spa
Improving mental health and decreasing stress is a big driver for wellness travellers and will continue to be in the future. People are starting to view wellness more holistically and realise that physical, mental and spiritual wellness are all equally important for a sound body and mind. I’m seeing increased demand and supply of immunity-boosting retreats, which most major wellness retreat providers have created in response to the pandemic. There is also a huge shift in prevention instead of cure, which is great to witness.
Science-based wellness on the rise
Many wellness travellers understand that holistic and traditional medicine both play an important part in optimising overall health. They want the in-depth analysis that blood tests can provide for example, but often want to treat ailments, where possible, naturally. Amanpuri has an integrated medical wellness facility powered by Thanyapura, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz has an on-site lab for tests, and Villa Stéphanie is one of the few wellness retreats with a certified OBGYN on site. For hydrotherapy and a quick getaway that doesn’t require a seaplane once you reach the Maldives, I love Como Cocoa Island.
Post-stay virtual wellness support
Now, more than ever, resorts are utilising social media to connect with guests and offer them added-value information and services such as complimentary online classes and consultations. Six Senses launched an online wellness resource platform on their website, Ananda in the Himalayas created a series of online yoga classes, and Chiva Som offered complimentary wellness consultations. The best wellness retreats in the world truly want to help people feel healthier and happier, and it’s much more than just a transactional relationship for them. Pre- and post- consultations are becoming more important and thorough, and there is also an added emphasis on post-retreat maintenance.
Search for privacy
The majority of properties in the Compare Retreats’ collection offer spacious suites, lots of privacy and are set in stunning natural settings, so the sky’s the limit. If you want to escape to a secret island with turquoise water, adrenaline-pumping activities, privacy and indulgent spa treatments, there is nowhere quite like Amanpulo in the Philippines. For Ayurveda, yoga and holistic cuisine in the jungle, look no further than Como Shambhala Estate, and if it’s luxury and sun you’re seeking, Zulal in the Middle East offers it up in abundance. Aro Hā in New Zealand is a state-of-the-art community-building retreat that includes some of the most famous walks in the world and delicious vegan cuisine. The meditation cave at Kamalaya in Thailand is said to boast healing properties, and Fivelements in Bali specialises in sacred arts and natural food/treatments.
The global pandemic has brought wellness to the forefront of all of our minds. Home workouts, healthy home baking, meditation, and wellness technologies all saw a surge in demand as people were forced to DIY their wellness routines. The demand for wellness retreats is on the rise and our clients want to do longer retreats that are more intense in nature. Longer detoxes, more thorough cleanses, immunity-boosting programmes, full-body check ups, the list goes on.