The healing hotel?

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According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the market for wellness tourism is expected to reach $680 billion this year, as health-conscious travellers look to stay fit and improve their lifestyles while away.

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In the lap of the luxury

As such, hotels across the world are revamping their fitness and spa operations beyond conventional gyms, saunas and steam rooms to give affluent guests an additional reason to choose their hotel over competitors.
Bulgari Hotels in Milan and London, for example, offer one-on-one fitness workshops, including assisted stretch therapy. ESPA Life at The Corinthia offers ‘Brain Power Packages’ comprising neuroscientist-designed bedrooms, menus and spa treatments to boost brain performance.

“Society is much more health-conscious and there is a bigger demand for wellness, whether physical or mental,” says Marko Vucinic, Senior Vice President and Acting Head of Hotels and Hospitality Group at JLL Middle East and North Africa. “While conventional spas are still very popular, a facility that is positioned as wellness or medical-focused has the implication that it can improve your life – which has a positive effect on the guests stay.”

At Miraval Resorts, wellness programs include regenerative treatments such as group-healing sound bath sessions and massages by suspended silk ropes. Luxury resort group Six Senses offers a holistic wellness plan that begins with guests receiving a biometric analysis with suggestions for lifestyle changes and resort facilities to try. Rooms are designed with a sleep doctor to provide the perfect night’s rest, including an upgrade to consult with a ‘sleep ambassador’ who can additionally personalise the room to its occupant’s needs.
Other hotels focus on offering medical assessments followed by bespoke culinary and fitness regimes to improve their results. “Wellness facilities, whether it’s a yoga class or more medically-focused therapy, enhances the overall experience of a hotel and makes for a more memorable stay,” Vucinic says. And what’s more, investing in stylish facilities can pay off; the GWI estimates that wellness travellers spend 130 percent more than typical guests.

Better health for all

Right now it’s mainly upscale and luxury hotel groups that are offering therapeutic experiences but even mid-range hotels are beginning to offer in-room wellness amenities such as vitamin C-infused showers and dawn-simulation lighting.
According to Vucinic “it’s all about implementing a little more of a health program. It doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive redesign but there is a need for trained staff to conduct classes or to consult with guests.” Hyatt Hotels, for example, recently brought some of that knowledge base in-house by acquiring the spa brand Exhale in order to enhance its wellness offering.

Defining features

Well-planned wellness services can be the defining features that set some hotels apart from their competitors. “In addition to physical features and overall service levels, luxury hotels used to stand out by enhancing their food and beverage offerings but they’re now looking to also upgrade other amenities, including spa and wellness facilities, where they see good opportunities to differentiate themselves,” Vucinic concludes. And with a boom in wellness tourism on the horizon and evidence that wellness travellers will pay a lot more than the average Joe, what on earth have hoteliers got to lose?

This article was first published on JLL Real Views, JLL’s global site providing expert insights on the trends and developments shaping real estate.

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