Industry Expert: The Wellness Ripple Effect: Maldives, a wellness haven
Wellness – a new buzzword or a profitable concept for the hospitality industry?
In fact wellness is an old, long existing concept that is experiencing a renaissance in light of a dramatically changing modern world. Yes, it may sound grim, but the reality is that we live in a world that is just getting sicker, more obese, sedentary, and depressed – not to mention many other challenges.
As Susie Ellis, CEO at Global Wellness Summit, outlines: “Aging populations and chronic diseases associated with the unhealthy modern lifestyle have been driving up medical costs around the world, demonstrating the limitations of the conventional medical paradigm of ‘sick care.’ The rise of the wellness economy is a direct response to combat this trend, largely driven by consumer demand.”
It’s evident that a paradigm shift from ‘sick care’ to pro-active, preventative wellness consciousness is evolving; a ‘wellness mindset’, that is based on ownership, responsibility for one’s own well-being, health and happiness.
This ‘inside-out’ versus ‘outside-in’ approach traditionally defines wellness as preventive and holistic; integrating a wide range of complimentary, medical, healing modalities and healthy lifestyle choices. Conscious choices by conscious consumers.
The Wellness Ripple Effect
Studies have shown that consumers are increasingly extending their wellness lifestyles to their travels, stimulating global Wellness Tourism. PKF Hospitality Research, a branch of CBRE that specializes in analyzing and reporting on the hospitality industry, has identified what they call a ‘wellness ripple effect’. In their 2014 Trends report, they explain that “as trends in society are shifting to healthier, more active lifestyles, hotels are incorporating aspects of spa and wellness into other departments.”The ISPA Global Wellness Summit 2014 held in Delhi last year also highlighted some very important facts regarding wellness travel:
- Global wellness tourism is expected to grow at annual rate of 9.5% internationally up to 2017
- In total, we estimate that the wellness tourism economy is worth US$439bn roughly 14% of global tourism expenditures. Wellness tourism directly creates 12 million jobs around the world
- Corporate employers in the US investing in wellness plan to spend an average of US$594 per employee on wellness incentives within their health care programmes for 2014, according to new research from the National Business Group on Health
So, what could be the take away here?
The objective is not to transform existing successful resort concepts into health and destination spas, but to acknowledge an increasing demand for wellness and health conscious options as outlined above.
The Maldives is a natural wellness haven; unsurpassed unique natural resources may evoke the longing to connect to the beauty of our natural environment, going back to simplicity and nature, to declutter and reflect on our priorities in life.
Would it not be enough to have stunning island beauty paired with unique resort concepts to provide all what is needed in the ‘wellness department’?
No, simply because our busy, scattered, fast moving mind, needs help and direction to reach a state of mindfulness and deep relaxation.
I believe in a new, fresh conversation and integrative approach where spa operators, hotel managers and HOD’s sit together and infect each other with new ideas to propel and advocate a wellbeing culture throughout the entire hotel operation.
1. The Power of Words: We can start using “wellness language” in our collaterals; words and phrases, the wellness community can relate to: such as give-back, prevention, connectedness, mindfulness, mind-body, farm-fresh, homegrown, sustainable, natural healing, re-balancing, energy, organic, touch, detoxify, antioxidant, de-stress, century old, harmony, natural elements, ancient remedy, coupling, engage, embrace, health giving, earthy, botanical.
2. A Wellness Inspired Team: As management we should invest in the wellness education of our employees; to inspire the wellness spirit to our team members. By offering wellness activities, office mini breaks with yoga etc, educational programs of health, fitness and wellness modalities and healthy lifestyle options we can create a corporate wellness culture. Leading to more satisfaction, happiness, health and productivity.
3. Connectedness: Island Host – Wellness Host: a GRO or island host could be trained as “wellness host” with an emphasis on assisting our guests to create their personal wellness program during the island vacation; including pre-after vacation communication.
- From “slow –food” cooking classes, specialty food spa menus, lectures about mindful nutrition, weight loss supporting food, healthy and joyful eating without starving and craving.
- To slow-move meditation classes, nature walks, to creating an outdoor environment that infuses specific well-being experiences:
- Outdoor Labyrinth: Walking an outdoor labyrinth is a type of meditation – a way to move into a meditative state of awareness without sitting still
- Meditation Garden: The Meditation Garden could be a place, which beckons with its colourful plants, serene small pools, elegant sculptures, sensory sound installations and cool shaded nooks. A healing spot meant to invite sensory awareness, stillness, reflection and joyful connection with nature.
5. Healthy Holistic Living: Inspiring to work/life balance: vacation time is inspiration time, time to reflect, to connect, to let go and unwind. Providing inspiration and motivation for lifestyle changes by introducing our guests to possible new experiences:
- Simple, easy to follow group fitness/body-mind classes on a regular schedule
- Healthy living tips featured in room collaterals/hotel TV channels, educating about local authentic traditions: e.g. benefits of coconut, local herbs and plants and their health benefits
- Drumming classes – learn and have fun to play the ‘bodu beru’; we have a lot talented team members who may have interest to share their musical skills
- Painting lessons – awe inspiring stunning surrounding may evoke the muse in our guests, why not ask talented team member or local artists to facilitate that process
- Lectures with local experts, artist, teachers, environmentalists
I strongly believe with the evolving change in consumer attitudes toward wellness consciousness we shall let the wellness ripple effect emanate throughout the multiple facets of the resort holiday experience.
Renate Hermes is Group Spa Director Duniye Spas, where she oversees nine Duniye Spas in the Maldives and two in the Seychelles. Renate has worked in the international health, spa and wellness industry for more than 20 years. With a MA degree in health and wellness management and sport science from the German University of Sport Sciences in Cologne, Renate is dedicated to the development of world-class spa and wellness centres.