From sleep shows to sleep teams; betterness to in-home pilates – there’s never been a better time to get to grips with the wellness phenomenon. April Hutchinson looks at some of the trends affecting the UK traveller and beyond.
According to The Global Wellness Institute, the wellness economy has now surpassed the $4 trillion mark, and with figures of this magnitude, wellness should also be the mainstay of the travel and hospitality world.
For hotels, ensuring there is a switched-on, comprehensive approach to wellness – whether on-property or knowing places to connect guests to locally – will become even more important as travellers look to plug-in to wellness on-the-go.
Speaking at the recent ttgluxury Summit in London, research and insight agency Stylus took things one step further, speaking of the rise in “betterness”, whereby consumers seek to “self-sharpen and improve themselves”. Travel and hospitality companies that can play a part in helping clients along this journey of “exploration and self-development” will definitely be one step ahead.
But where do people turn to in order to find a wellness break to suit them? Balance Holidays is a new UK-based wellbeing brand that will present a heavily curated range of options, conscious that some wellness or spa companies list anything and everything on their sites, potentially heightening stress over what to choose in the first place.
Following the general trend for personalisation and on-demand services, the UK has recently seen the launch of My:Method, a company that seeks to match pilates and yoga classes to when the user wants them, whether that be at home or in the office, starting off with 150 instructors across London. It has already become an official partner of luxury lifestyle concierge company Quintessentially and its corporate clients include Farfetch, Estée Lauder Group and Burberry.
Introducing services such as these is becoming an ever-crucial part of the workplace too – whether it be for physical fitness or an understanding of employees’ mental wellbeing; Lisa Fitzell, the new managing director of one of the UK’s top luxury tour operators Elegant Resorts, brought yoga classes and mindfulness sessions for the team with her when she joined and employee engagement scores are already seeing the effects.
Brand expansion in the UK is also key, with companies such as Africology launching for the first time, conscious of the potential for spa and wellness products here; the South African brand opened a flagship shop in London’s Covent Garden in November. Meanwhile, Bamford, a British brand already loved by country gals and city slickers alike, launched a three-floor whitewashed space in Chelsea, with a sky-lit yoga studio, tea bar and of course treatment rooms.
But one of the most talked about elements of wellness is of course sleep, and this autumn, London saw another debut, a new show called Somnex, an exhibition utterly dedicated to helping visitors easier achieve this often-elusive state. The move comes at a time when the sleep-health industry is estimated to be worth £30 billion, and the Great British Bedtime Report has suggested that almost a third of us are still getting poor sleep most nights – usually due to stress and worry.
According to Somnex, the average Brit only gets six hours and nineteen minutes of shut-eye a night, so is it any wonder they look to their holidays to try and play catch-up? While it may not be a new trend, more hotels are certainly taking this on-board, by improving the quality of the sleep experience they try and present to frazzled, sleep-deprived guests.
“In hotels across the world, pillow menus, ambient lighting and herbal teas have long come as standard, but hotels have upped their game to offer exercise classes, in-room massages and even bespoke supper menus,” according to Bansri Shah, co-founder and organiser of Somnex.
Leading the way in its holistic approach to sleep is Six Senses, which has taken a top-to-toe look at helping guests nod-off easier. The Sleep with Six Senses experience includes Naturalmat mattresses (made in the UK) and dedicated sleep ambassadors to guide guests in achieving the very best night’s sleep.
For its sleep-seeking guests, Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai offers a 90-minute spa experience, with herbal steam, acupuncture and a hot bath of Tibetan roseroot bath salts; pillow menu of six, with lavender eye pillow and diffuser; and a magnesium-rich bedtime smoothie of Valrhona chocolate, banana and walnut.
And over at The Benjamin in New York, there is a 24-7 “sleep team”, who have all been trained by sleep consultant Rebecca Robbins on the fundamentals of sleep medicine and promotion of healthy sleep habits. The hotel’s sleepy package also includes on-demand meditation; eye masks, ear plugs, blackout curtains and a lullaby music library; in-room pampering and spa treatments; “bedtime bites”; “work-down” and wake-up calls; and even the Winks’ programme for younger guests.
Now where’s that cup of cocoa…