“The VirusCasedemic has shaken up the wellness industry”–Paul Ebeling
People’s understanding of wellness now goes well beyond a fancy spa and an infinity pool. Now it’s all-encompassing theme explores the healing elements of physical and mental treatments, as well as spirituality, using methods that spill into cuisine and art therapy.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness market grew to a record $4.9-T in Y 2019 and then fell to $4.4-T in the pandemic yr of Y 2020. But with a consumer ‘values shift’ underway, the future of the wellness market is very bright, predicted to grow 10% annually through Y 2025
Today, there is hope and with that hope comes a new appreciation for how we care for ourselves. In the world of wellness travel, this new understanding translates to a revamped set of properties with wellness programs that suit the needs of pandemic-affected travelers.
The revived offerings are more in line with the demand for holistic selfcare, mental health and wellbeing, surrounded by calm, wide open spaces with a sensitivity towards nature. Resulting from the pandemic, these needs from travelers are being met to the highest standards by new retreats and refurbished wellness centers that have deconstructed the traditional spa concept and turned it into a wholesome experience.
Here, I look at some holistic wellness retreats around the world with offerings from mental coaching to ancient spring water rituals designed to soothe travelers, heal their senses and get inspired to tackle the “new normal” with a strong sense of self.
Palazzo Fiuggi proudly stands in Italy’s most renowned spa town, Fiuggi, in central Italy. Thanks to its ideal location just one hour south of Rome, Fiuggi is known for its detoxifying spring water, acqua di Fiuggi. The miraculous spring has been used in Italy since the 14th Century and is famous for its natural healing properties both locally as well as internationally.
Lorenzo Giannuzzi, founder of Palazzo Fiuggi Wellness Medical Retreat, identified a gap in the market for a wellness retreat that focuses on strengthening the immune system and cellular regeneration of the body and mind. “We are passionate about maximizing guests’ long-term health,” he said, “and we have been through years of scientific and medical research in order to develop pioneering ways to do this.” Indeed, his dazzling property offers some of the world’s leading technologies in wellness, including the latest infrared technology for brain health and sleep, retinal scanning and diagnostic testing.
The state of the art wellness retreat has pandemic-inspired programs like their “anti-Covid-19 check-up” to bolster your immune system. Although Mr. Giannuzzi and his team of wellness experts cannot promise full cures, their objective is to prevent their guests from getting sick, just as their motto rightfully says, “Longer Life, Better Lived”.
Mr. Giannuzzi bravely says the pandemic has an upside: “People are looking to reconnect with themselves and their loved ones and really want to focus on self-care and their health now more than ever. Covid-19 has been a huge wake-up call for everyone and those who may have not ever considered a wellness retreat before are now embracing our life changing programmes.”
On the Riviera Maya in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula sits Palmaïa – The House of AïA, a forward thinking beach enclave designed by Alex Ferri, founder, to reflect the lessons he learnt on his journey to optimal health. The retreat is for guests looking to explore and experiment with the everchanging offerings at Palmaïa – The House of AïA, with plant-based cuisine, sustainability at its core and intentional design to complement the overall experience. The turquoise water of the Caribbean doesn’t hurt either, especially with a Mexican cocktail in hand, under the protective shade of massive palms.
Pinned on the progressive end of the wellness travel spectrum, this stay is an all-in-one retreat for both wellness trips and barefoot workcations — the current record is a 4-month stay and counting. Their offerings are varied and unique, to say the least, with cacao ceremonies, soul readings and other experimental sessions with their “Architects of Life Programme”.
When asked if he sees a spike in wellness travel post-pandemic, Mr. Ferri rightfully responded: “I don’t have any evidence they are, but I hope more people can question how we have been living in the developed world and find a new way to live a healthier life, not just for ourselves but for the planet and everything that surrounds us.”
The Lefay sister properties, Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti, and Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda are located on Lago Di Garda, a pristine lake fringed with green forests and charming towns, and in the snow-covered Dolomites, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the resorts extend to a wide variety of offerings and guests needs beyond wellness, the Spa at both Lefay properties is a cornerstone of their attraction; they refer to their SPA’s as “wellness temples where the senses and the soul are regenerated.”
Boasting their own line of cosmetics and treatment products “Tra Suoni e Colori”, Lefay SPAs are famously enormous to fulfill the needs of all guests. They offer a wide variety of indoor and outdoor aquatic areas combined with a mineral dimension found in the salt-water lake. Their temperature circuit is designed according to Lefay’s SPA Method with different levels of heat and humidity, dedicated phyto- and aromatherapies and treatments designed by the in-house Scientific Committee. The innovative wellness method stems from the blending of Classical Chinese Medicine with Western Scientific Research, a union that is found in all of their programs.
The Director of Sales at Lefay, Manola Fresta, said it right: “COVID-19 has introduced a new vision in regards to prevention and health. Guests are more aware about the importance of looking after themselves, about preventing, instead of curing.”
Opening its doors just before the pandemic hit, Greece’s’ Euphoria Retreat was ahead of the curve with its wellness selection. The founder, Marina Efraimoglou, shared her story about how the retreat came about. “After overcoming cancer twice in my late 20s and suffering exhaustion and burn out in the world of investment banking,” said Marina, “I sought to bring balance into my life through study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Five Elements and other alternative health methods.” Inspired by her own medical recovery, she sought to create a healing space where guests can be gently motivated and guided into living a more holistic and balanced life, with an inclination towards spirituality.
On her personal journey to better health, Marina visited many healing centers and spas around the world and none seemed to hit the mark and fulfill her true needs. She then turned to her own heritage for answers. “The ancient Greek philosophers viewed life as joyful, sensual, and full of exciting potential for growth; the Greek word ‘Euphoria’ is about living and feeling ‘well’. That is how Euphoria Retreat was born.”
By combining age-old holistic healing techniques with some of the latest scientific advances, Euphoria Retreat sets a new blueprint for restoring physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance. “Euphoria Retreat is the perfect antidote needed to refresh world-weary spirits,” promises Marina. “Whether you are seeking to set new health goals, change your perspective and connect with your inner healer or simply feel more joy, Euphoria is a portal for meaningful change and a chance to fall back in love with life and with yourself”.
The COVID-19 chaos had its say in the offerings and programs set in place at Euphoria Retreat, of course. The treatments now include expressive dance to expel trapped negative emotions, a floatation session to recalibrate the senses and a Qigong energize exercise to reset the body. “In addition, journaling and mandalas help guests to set their intentions for the future and a sense of play is encouraged via forest treasure hunts and picnics.” It comes to no surprise that the most popular program today is the Immunity Reset that combines medical testing with personalized nutrition, body workouts and detoxifying outdoor activities to support a healthy immunity and introduce a new daily routine to the lives of the participants.
“‘Spartan Spirit of Adventure’ is also very popular, especially with our male guests – I think because it combines an element of fitness, which is inspired by ancient Greek warriors of Sparta. It provides a chance to burn off pent up stress and energy and at the same time really enjoy the nature and sights around Euphoria.”
SHA Wellness Clinic was one of the 1st blockbusters in the wellness industry in Y 2008, paving the way for the rest of the retreats by starting in Spain and now in Mexico. Similar to Euphoria Retreat’s touching story, SHA was born after the owner’s transformative personal experience involving many years of medical issues and faced with a troubling diagnosis.
Alfredo Bataller Parietti miraculously recovered his health thanks to integrative medicine, heavily focused on healthy nutrition practices. Amazed by the impact a good meal and alternative therapies have on health, Bataller has a calling for SHA.
Expanding to Mexico is a move that the Bataller family studied for some time and decided on recently based on the consumer demand to place health and wellbeing at the forefront of all areas of life, be it business or personal. After over 10 yrs of success in Spain, SHA is considering to open a property on every continent but with the pandemic, their 1st move is to the Quintana Roo state of Cancun, across the bay from Isla Mujeres, just 30 mins drive from Cancun’s international airport.
The new SHA Mexico will stay true to the brand’s principles steeped in sustainability and the use of natural construction materials and renewable energy resources. In addition to the wellbeing vision of SHA, the Bataller family is keen on minimizing the environmental impact that wellness retreats are often disassociated with.
Located on 7 hectares of abundant flora and fauna, just steps away from a long stretch of white sandy beach, SHA Mexico Wellness Clinic will incorporate the ancient secrets of the Mayas, who declared Isla Mujeres a sacred place to worship the goddess Ixchel, goddess of fertility. According to SHA’s team, the minimum duration to achieve a noticeable result is 7 days and 14 days more visible results. For certain health goals, they have designed 21-day programs, like the popular Detox programme.
Have a happy, prosperous day, Keep the Faith!