Allyn MagrinoAllyn Magrino

Not long ago, a hotel’s “wellness strategy” was often limited to an old exercise bike along with some weights in a windowless basement room, and perhaps a bowl of sad-looking fruit in the lobby area.

Luckily for us—and the travel community at large—the hospitality industry has realized the enormous benefits of investing in sound wellness strategies. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism is scheduled to become a $919 billion market and grow at an average rate of 7.5 percent a year through 2022, while the growth rate for overall tourism over the same period is only 6.4 percent. Given the demand from travelers and the economic impact of employing such wellness strategies, the travel industry has responded with more programming, upgraded fitness facilities, healthier menus and entire resorts whose whole focus is wellness.

O'Dwyer's Jul. '19 Travel & Int'l PR Magazine
This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jul. '19 Travel & Int'l PR Magazine.

Gyms are no longer relegated to out-of-the-way spaces with no views, but are given prime real estate. For example, both the Hotel Pitrizza and the Cala di Volpe resorts on the Costa Smeralda of Sardinia have state-of-the-art gyms outdoors, in prime spaces next to a pool overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. While guests certainly relish partaking in the resorts’ legendary Bellinis and cuisine, they’re equally committed to keeping their fitness routines while vacationing. Similarly, the bustling Fontainebleau Miami Beach is known for its beautiful pools and lively environment, whose guests want to enjoy as much sun and excitement as they can. As such, the hotel’s floor-to-ceiling windowed gym overlooks the Atlantic Ocean as well as the resort’s legendary pools, allowing gym goers the opportunity to not miss a minute of the visual excitement offered by the property.

Some resorts are going a step beyond and offering “green exercise” programs, combining wellness and sustainability. JOALI Maldives offers an outdoor workout regime using RAW Fitness equipment — everything from handcrafted wooden structures to coconut hand weights and natural fiber ropes, all utilizing natural, recyclable materials from the resort, such as tree trunks, coconuts, wood, sand and rocks. This approach to “green exercise” is known to have positive physical and psychological health benefits, including reducing stress and mental fatigue, and improving concentration and cognitive function.

Conventions and group meetings have often had a reputation for offering an excuse for attendees to eat and drink with abandon. Today, meeting planners are more often than not requesting healthier meals and snack options for attendees, along with yoga and stretch breaks or other group fitness activity. The JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa offers The Healthy menu for morning breaks, including everything from fresh fruit and nuts to all-natural protein bars and fruit-infused waters and ice tea. The Hilton Portland offers groups everything from Baby Goat Yoga to Multnomah Meditation sessions to a team running session with the director of F&B over some of Portland’s famous bridges.

Even the legendary Las Vegas buffet has turned a corner, with the focus being less on “all-you-can-eat” of fried foods and more on a variety of healthy options. For example, the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas offers everything from freshly-grilled fish to a build-your-own-Pho bar, along with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes and desserts.

Healthy options are even being found at bars, with mocktails and lower alcohol beverages along with those with a sustainable message making up a bigger part of cocktail menus. For example, Canopy by Hilton, through its partnership with Proprietors LLC., sources cocktail ingredients from local distilleries and farms whenever possible. These drink menus have the smallest environmental footprint possible by creating waste-free cocktails and reusing leftover garnishes to make syrups and infusions.

Today’s travelers are increasingly devoting vacation time to fitness retreats, where they can focus their entire time on fitness, healthy eating and learning new strategies for maintaining their health. The Ranch Malibu offers four-, seven- and 10-day results-oriented fitness and wellness programs. Dedicated to improving the quality of one’s life by improving their health, the programs recalibrate the mind and body through an intense fitness and wellness regimen paired with a highly structured, plant-based nutritional diet. Each day consists of eight hours of low impact activity — centered around a breathtaking and varied four-hour group hike each morning — afternoon nap time, fitness classes, yoga and daily massage.

MagrinoThe outdoor fitness center at the Hotel Pitrizza in Sardinia.

SHA Wellness Clinic is an internationally recognized well-being clinic located in Alicante, Spain which offers 12 curated health programs expertly designed to meet the personal needs and objectives of each individual guest, including natural therapies, scientific medicine and healthy nutrition. The wellness clinic offers more than 300 treatments and a staff of over 35 doctors from more than 40 nationalities worldwide. Guest can choose from a variety of programs, from four to 30 days, covering everything from weight loss to sleep problems to menopause to smoking cessation, all while enjoying the benefits of a luxury resort with views of the Mediterranean.

Lastly, hotels realize that their guests’ focus on wellness doesn’t end when they go to bed. As such many properties are investing in state-of-the-art beds, such as The Estate Yountville, which outfitted its premier Villa accommodations with luxurious Hastens beds, made by hand in Sweden and prized for their natural materials, comfort and ability to provide a perfect sleep.  And it’s not just five-star hotels that are investing in sleep programs; Motto by Hilton, a new affordable lifestyle brand with hotels in urban locations, has put an emphasis on an elevated sleep experience, including premium mattresses, blackout window shades, a white noise app, and sound absorbing materials throughout the room.

Wellness programs provide winning strategies for both travel providers as well as guests, reaping not only economic benefits but those of health and happiness.

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Allyn Magrino is President and Chief Revenue Officer at Magrino PR.