Holidays in the age of wellness

How wellness and travel became intertwined and why Jumeirah welcomes it


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The quest for “wellness” is a global phenomenon. Beyond health and beauty, balancing mind, body and spirit is something millions of us are attempting to do.  Indeed, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) valued the wellness market at an astonishing $4.2trillion in 2017 – that’s approximately 5.3 per cent of the global economic output.

It’s hard to identify a sector wellness hasn’t infiltrated - from diet and beauty to fashion, health, fitness and travel. The GWI’s Global Wellness Economy model identifies ten markets ranging from “personal care, beauty and anti-aging” to “healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss.” And within this, two of the fastest-growing sectors have been “wellness tourism” and the “spa economy.” 

And so leading hotels around the world, such as Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, are creating even more innovative ways to cater to customers’ wellness needs.

According to Suzanne Duckett, spa and wellness expert and author of Bathe: The Art of Finding Rest, Relaxation and Rejuvenation in a Busy World, “spas have become part of the language of hotels. Without a spa, it’s as if the hotel hasn’t committed to your total relaxation, mentally as well as physically. Health and hospitality are more linked than ever before.”

“Our guests are typically looking to relax, disconnect and explore,” says Paloma Espinosa of Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa in Mallorca, home to the award-winning Talise Spa. And to meet this need, Talise Spa taps into “environmental wellness” – living in harmony with nature – offering unique experiences that bring guests closer to Mallorca’s natural surroundings. These include treatments that use ingredients grown on the island (almonds and olives) and a hydropool looking out over the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.

Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa Hydropool Woman


A world of wellbeing

Of course, the benefits of holistic wellness are nothing new – Ayurvedic techniques and traditional Chinese medicine go back thousands of years. However, the first interpretation of what we now call “wellness” entered the common language in 1948, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing.”

From the 1980s onwards, wellness initiatives began to gather momentum as people focused on healthy eating, fitness and meditation as a means to achieving this optimum balance. Slowly, wellness became part of the vernacular, and by 2013, only 29 per cent of millennials defined healthy as “not falling sick.”

Women enjoying yoga on the beach


Digital detox

But it was around the turn of the century that we saw the greatest intensification of this idea, and a demand for services and systems that can help us achieve some sort of balance. For Richard Watson, author of Digital vs Human: How We’ll Live, Love, and Think in the Future, it could be seen as a backlash to the emergence of personal technology. ‘“On the one hand, fitness tracking has put more focus on physical wellbeing, but on the other hand, the individual mobile phone and the smartphone have focused more attention on mental health.”

Within that, wellness programmes have also come to play an essential part in helping overcome problems related to stress, dubbed “the health epidemic of the 21st century” by the WHO. Dealing with stress is acutely affected by factors such as sleep, a fundamental cornerstone of wellbeing, and integral to a positive holiday experience.

“In the future, there is going to be a phenomenal demand for ways to disconnect and relax,” says Watson. “We are seeing much more questioning around our use of tech. People are seeking more of a balance, and to be able to switch things off occasionally. Expect more interest in sleep – better quality of beds, and bedding using tech to aid sleep – as well as a shift from the purely physical aspects of beauty treatments to the inner drivers for beauty and health, such as mental balance through yoga, meditation, mindfulness and beyond.”

Jumeirah has responded to the needs of travellers for deep and authentic rest and rejuvenation in a number of ways across its hotels – from flotation tanks, to helping reset jet-lagged bodies with sleep improvement massages, and even specialist mattresses and duvets for a more luxurious night’s sleep.

Specialist spa treatments are also being developed. At Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, the signature sleep programme – based on clinical research and ancient practice – is specially designed to help address sleep concerns and solve insomnia. Tailored treatments begin with guided meditation and breathing exercises, followed by a “Facial Marma” massage which stimulates the pineal gland, which produces melatonin, a serotonin-derived hormone that modulates sleep patterns.



Future health

So what is the trend for wellness now? The Global Wellness Summit’s 2019 Wellness Trends report predicts, among other things, how time spent in nature might soon become a doctor’s prescription and how we are entering into an era where science and tech will decide what diets are best-suited to our health and wellbeing.

What’s certain is that wellness will continue to evolve. The idea of wellbeing as a goal may have taken thousands of years to get to where it is today, but it has truly arrived. And in a busy modern world that continues to demand more and more from us, it’s definitely here to stay.