They say you can foretell future trends by looking at what the big thinkers and pioneers are doing now. So what’s up with wellness in 2021?
Let’s start with an example of the future of business travel in the wellness arena. In spite of in-person events being canceled across the board, the Global Wellness Summit—an international organization that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively impact and shape the future of the global wellness industry—had the fortitude and determination, in spite of some resistance, to go forward with their first ever hybrid (both in-person and virtual event ) Nov 8 to 11 at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.
The organizers of the event—which included 17th Surgeon General of the U.S, Dr. Richard Carmona—felt that since the pandemic could, by some estimates, continue to affect our lives for at least another year, a model needed to be created for a safe, in-person gathering. Their thinking was, who better than the wellness community to do that. Everyone was tested upon arrival, mask wearing was strictly enforced at the event; the conference rooms had socially distanced seating, exercise balls and stationery bikes to sit on; and Far UV Light was quietly cleaning the air all around us. No cases were traced to the event afterwards either.
While there and interviewing Fred Maxik, the lead scientist of Healthe Inc—a company pioneering Far UVC light’s role in combatting Covid—for the GWS Podcast which I host, I asked him why he thought the entire in-person attendee list of about 124 people from all over the U.S. and Mexico tested negative for Covid upon arrival at the summit. He said “Check their Zip Codes, their lifestyles and their established medical care.”
In the destination spa category, I refer to my well-heeled, regular spa-going friend who has been uber careful during Covid—groceries always delivered and the only activities done outside her home were masked hiking and masked golfing. Before the pandemic she had booked a trip to a hiking-forward destination spa in California for this December. Since she’d been before and knew the lay of the land, she knew each guest would have their own bungalow. She said she also trusted that management would follow the Covid safety protocols they had put in place – private massage bungalows that were disinfected between treatments, smaller exercise classes and more buses driving guests to hike trails each morning so they could space out as well as the option to eat their vegan, delicious meals outside, which she and a friend always did. She said after months of lock down she made a conscious decision to choose a local travel/wellness experience that would reinforce her immune system and overall health. She also said that she has just rebooked her cancelled trip to the Galapagos Islands for 2022.
It also stands to reason that with so many people “giving up” on healthy eating during the pandemic and gaining that extra “Covid-19” pounds, they will be seeking out ways to shape up after things open up. Look for spas that specialize in weight loss to find a strong uptick in business.
Also, with depression and suicide at record levels even before the shutdown, resorts and wellness retreats know full well that it is just straight necessary to have spiritually and mental wellness rooted activities on the menu.
And, while it may sound simple enough, let’s not forget that humans are intrinsically drawn to the healing power of nature. With Apps like CALM taking us to streams and mountain tops and rain forests virtually during Covid, we long even more to get out to the real thing; the wide open spaces, and take a really deep, mask-less breath.
In fact, Douglas Drummond, Healing Arts & Somatics Director at the iconic Esalen Institute in Big Sur, the birthplace of the Human Potential Movement, predicts that besides being Nurtured in Nature, travelers in 2021 will be looking for ways to do the following four things:
-Be Intentional: Help in setting realistic goals. Taking inventory of what is now and setting a course for the future.
-Have Real Talk:. This pandemic has underscored the value of truth and what really matters. Wellness centers will teach us how to be honest about how we feel and how to interpret what that might mean for the road ahead.
-Practicing Movement as Medicine: Hike, Dance, Swim, Do Downward Dog study after study shows that at least 30 minutes a day makes a real difference in longevity. Wellness retreats need to show us HOW to WANT to move everyday. Interestingly, Esalen was a bit prescient on this. Somatics—which is the mind/body connection enhanced by movement – was built into the Institute’s 1963 charter.
-Experiencing the Power of Touch—Masks are always welcome. But, never before have we needed to connect and rejuvenate as much, and there’s no more effective way to help the body heal itself than with a fabulous massage.
And what about the best kept secret of soaking in a hot spring as Mother’s Nature’s way of boosting your immune system? In fact, a peer reviewed study by Australian-based, hot springs aficionado, Dr. Marc Cohen, shows that raising the body’s core temperature from a hot springs soak – and hopefully a cold dip to seal off the contrast bathing experience—does all the right things a fever does to kickstart the body’s immune system, but without the negative side effects. There’s a reason Native American warriors followed a code of: “No fighting in a hot spring.” It is the most natural way to just be still and let the healthy minerals rejuvenate body and mind. And, more often than not, hot springs vacations are among the most affordable options available. For a road trip with the bonus of immune boosting magic, check out this historic hot springs loop in Colorado:
A friend who is a Business Travel Manager says that people are definitely rethinking the necessity of traveling for business in the near future but—with a lot weighing on the vaccines providing herd immunity—they are also already booking destination weddings and travel adventures for Summer 2021 and beyond. And airlines and hotels are to be commended for offering ongoing flexible fares and generous cancelation policies.
Travel—both internationally and domestically—has been a way of life for so many of us for decades. But as the founder of Ageist.com said to me in an interview recently, “If you’re not in the Wellness Business now, you’re really not in business.” So travel destinations, take heed.
The figure that always amazes me is that the travel industry was the number one employer in the world before the pandemic. Let’s face it—whether we work in the wellness travel or hospitality industry or are happy participants in it, we’re all ready to have that joy and delight in connecting with each other again—whether it’s a bellman, a massage therapist, a yoga instructor, a hike guide or a seat mate on a plane while we’re on our way to one of our “bucket list” adventures.
Wellness Seekers Unite! 2021, here we come!
—Kim Marshall, Co-Founder at S’Well Public Relations & Founder, The Marshall Plan Branding & Communications (Having worked as an executive at iconic properties like the Golden Door, Rancho La Puerta and the Grand Wailea Resort, Kim founded The Marshall Plan in 1995 as the first communications firm in the U.S. to specialize in wellness, sustainability and wellness tourism. In 2018 she co-founded S’Well PublicRelations to laser focus on the $4.5 trillion global wellness economy and in 2019 she created, co-produced and became the Host of the Global Wellness Summit Podcast.)