The Value of Wellness Travel
If there is just one good thing that has come out of the pandemic, it’s that more of us have come to realize the true value of good health. There are those who are already healthy, and want to stay that way. There are others who feel they could be just a little bit healthier, and want to work on it. Then, there are those who want a total lifestyle reboot and are looking for some wellness travel, often, that might call for a Wellness Retreat or a Wellness Vacation.
Now, you may be thinking, so what’s the difference between a Wellness Retreat and a Wellness Vacation? Good question! The terms have been thrown about loosely for years now, and that’s why the Wellness Tourism Association created the industry’s first glossary of definitions.
Wellness Vacation / Holiday is Wellness Travel powered by a wellness-focused intention. These Wellness Vacations and/or Holidays are typically self-directed with the traveler setting his or her own timetable and schedule. They may also include a Wellness Retreat.
In today’s world, Wellness Retreat has TWO definitions but what we are referring to right now is this one direct for the WTA Glossary: “A Wellness Retreat is a guided, intention-driven, multi-day program with a set or semi-set schedule, and hosted by one or more facilitators. The program may include learning and lifestyle workshops such as meditation and healthy eating, as well as fitness activities such as yoga, nature walks, and hiking.” Many of you reading this may, in fact, be leading such retreats.
The second definition of a Wellness Retreat is this: A smaller facility with accommodations and hospitality services and where the primary purpose is to provide programs and experiences for the Wellness Traveler.
With the number of wellness travel options continuing to grow, how does one go about finding the right fit? Here are six tips to help set you on the right path.
Finding your Path to Wellness Travel
1. Determine your goal or objective.
What is the intention of the trip? What would you like to accomplish by taking a wellness vacation or wellness retreat? It could be anything from weight loss, taking solo time for self-reflection, to reset a fitness routine, learn to quell anxieties and manage stress, discovering how to plan and cook healthier meals, or simply taking time out to delve deeper into your yoga practices.
2. Ask yourself if you prefer a structured program (as in a hosted retreat) or more of a self-directed vacation itinerary?
Depending on your goal, you may want, even need, a program with a strict focus. On the other hand, if your intention is simple to find a quiet place to relax, rejuvenate and reenergize, perhaps you need less of a structured program and simply the right environment plus fit-focused optional activities to allow you to manage your own day-to-day itinerary.
3. Consider what type of environment and accommodation is most conducive for you to relax and de-stress.
Keeping your budget in mind, does a country inn or lodge embraced by the peace and quiet of a mountain setting or the sounds of ocean waves lulling you to sleep each night, sound appealing? Or would simply relaxing in a luxury city hotel with a full-service spa, regular fitness classes, healthy food options and access to local cultural attractions help you meet your goal?
4. Make sure the property (be it a hotel, resort, retreat, inn etc.) you are considering caters to your food preference.
Food is one of the pillars of wellness living, so food options are always important but especially so if the goal is to lose weight or to develop healthier cooking and eating habits. Farm-to-table, local, whole food is certainly one way to go, plus there are a growing list of food preferences including vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and others, so make certain that any inhouse restaurants – particularly if food is included in the program – will cater to your individual food preferences.
5. Do you want access to medical testing and a range of medical wellness professionals?
If the answer is “yes,” then your list of “right fit” retreat options will be confined to those facilities that offer such options. Two examples of hospitality facilities with those medical options are Pritikin in Doral, Florida and Waldhotel in Lucern, Switzerland.
6. Ask yourself what is the ONE thing your Wellness Vacation or Wellness retreat MUST include.
This can be pretty much anything from simple peace and quiet, to daily yoga classes, to guided fitness activities, to water-based activities, cooking classes, access to medical and wellness practitioners, close to local cultural attractions. The list goes on. You decide what is most important for YOU.
Wellness Travel as a Path to Well-Being
The above six tips will help you find the right Wellness Retreat or plan a Wellness Vacation that suits your specific goal(s) and interest(s). They will allow you to return home with a feeling of accomplishment and a renewed sense of well-being. If you need help planning there are now many wellness travel advisor specialists who can assist you. Here’s a list to help get you started: http://www.traveltowellness.com/wellness-travel-agent-specialists/
With the pursuit of good health as the new priority in our lives, it is good to know that there are so many options available across all budget and catering to an increasing number of special interests. Check out the Wellness Tourism Association’s online Directory of Members for more inspiration.
Co-Founder and President /CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association, Anne Dimon has been a travel writer and industry journalist for close to 25 years, and has traveled the world as a columnist/contributor to a variety of publications. Anne is also Owner/ Editor of TravelToWellness.com launched in 2004 as the first online magazine/resource for the wellness-minded traveler. Prior to her life as a journalist, Anne was president of her own public relations company specializing in hospitality. She has also worked in the hotel industry as a director of public relations. An acknowledged wellness travel expert and industry consultant, Anne is also the co-author of The Travel Institute’s new Wellness Travel Specialist Course.