The Top Wellness Travel Trends for 2012

When commercial jet travel took off in the ‘50s, holidays were about sun, sand and a hotel room – preferably a few warm, sandy steps from the shoreline. It was ‘goodbye Southend, hello Spain’ as those who could afford to began to fly off to “foreign” shores for their holidays in search of guaranteed summer sun.

As vacation ownership continues to evolve, and holiday options and destinations grow, one big trend emerging in recent years has been health and wellbeing. Almost every five star resort has a luxury spa these days, even those in city centre locations and wellness holidays are literally booming. Health and Fitness Travel, one of the UK’s leading active and wellness holiday specialists, recently uncovered their top wellness travel trends for 2012 based on their consumer research…

Spa and Culture

More spas around the world will enable guests to savour the flavour of another country’s culture and experience their particular destination on a holistic level. Combining a healthy getaway with culture is a way to experience spa therapies that are indigenous to the country you are visiting, with treatments on the spa menu reflecting local culture and customs and incorporating the healing qualities of local products. Examples of this might be the use of mineral rich seaweed massage therapies at resorts in Ireland, or vinotherapy (which uses extracts from wine) at hotels and spas in top wine-producing regions in Spain and France.

Less Bootcamp, More Luxury?

The new wave of active and wellness retreats will help you wind down and tone up at the same time with a little bit of luxury in comparison to the tough military bootcamp approach which is on the wane. More holidays offer a gentler approach in how to exercise with dedicated tailor-made wellness programmes and plenty of much needed time for relaxation so you return home fitter but not exhausted.

Age Adapted Spas

More generation spas will appear in 2012, adapted to the needs of specific age groups. Age adapted spas targeting younger groups will be focusing on the preventative aspect of healthy ageing, whereas 55+ spas will be incorporating rehabilitation treatments and looking at how to prevent age related diseases such as osteoporosis. Destinations that focus on this sort of spa break have traditionally included Switzerland, Germany and Austria, as well as Florida and California, where guests are often treated with medical supervision, but this sort of age-enhancing spa holiday is now becoming more popular in the Mediterranean.

Holidaying with Health Gurus

Top health and fitness experts now work at some of the leading resorts around the world. More people want to receive dedicated support and guidance from the best in the industry; wellness retreats are bringing in the top yoga teachers, nutritionists, doctors, personal trainers and more health gurus to raise their game. Clients want to be inspired and informed so that they can lead a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle when they return home.

Nutrition as a Foundation

Spas will start to focus more on nutrition with follow-up consultations in order for clients to make healthy changes to their lifestyle. It is imperative that more spas stress the importance of nutrition as we cannot expect to see proper results from spa treatments without the spa-goer making the necessary adjustments to their diet. The body needs to be looked at as a whole with nutrition being the most powerful way of working on the body, skin and mind.

Health and Fitness Consultations

Wellness retreats are introducing comprehensive health and fitness consultations to analyse guests’ needs in order to create a lifetime goal-driven tailor-made programme. This could range from losing weight to comprehensive post-recovery from an injury to building strength or flexibility.

Social Spa-ing

2012 will continue to see a rise in community spas where the social part of the spa break is integral. The spas will be designed in ways that allow spa-goers to socialise and receive treatments at the same time. The growing trend for Hammam rituals and treatments is a great example as it builds on the traditions of communal bathing and cleansing.

Healthy Breaks for Men

Pampering is not just for the girls! More men are opting for healthy breaks rather than adrenaline-filled action-packed holidays, perhaps to help combat the stress of work during a difficult economy. Healing spa therapies and targetted massage treatments and detox programmes for man are growing fast.

Healthy Aging

The years ahead could be the golden age of 50+ travellers, as walking, cycling, tennis, spa and yoga holidays become more popular as retirees seek to prolong their vitality. It less about reducing wrinkles, and more about staying fit longer and preventing disease.

Mind and Body Awareness

As well as keeping in good physical shape, the equal importance of mental fitness and body awareness is being more widely acknowledged. Meditation is becoming more mainstream, an essential daily tool for coping with stress, and more holistic classes are appearing on activity schedules such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong and yoga. Wellness retreats around the world are incorporating programmes to aid stress reduction through meditation and healing therapies.

Health and Fitness in Nature

Many wellness resorts are moving their programmes outdoors and encouraging guests to engage with the natural resources and healing power of nature at the destination in question. Outdoor activities can range from hiking in the mountains, yoga in the garden, outdoor rock climbing, open air spas, water sports and meditation on the beach.

Family Wellness

The boom in solo travellers continues to rise for wellness holidays but more families are now searching for these types of getaways. Parents want their children to be healthy on holiday and also keep busy with plenty of activities so they don’t get bored, and as a result an increasing number of resorts now have healthy children’s menus so they can learn good habits early.

Health Concerns

Alongside personal financial worries the consumer mind-set is also dominated by health and weight concerns. More adults are trying to engage in healthier activities to fight the flab and beat stress. Active sports-based holidays help encourage a healthier lifestyle away from home.

Sleep Well

About 75% of the UK workforce is getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night and sleep problems are on the up – mainly due to stress, excessive “air miles” travel and hectic lifestyles. Wellness retreats round the world are introducing sleep programmes to assist clients with problems such as chronic stress and sleep disorders.

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