Hotels keep pace with booming wellness trend

Wellness is slated to become part of a hotel’s core DNA post-Covid, and industry experts predict it will delve much deeper than yoga and a spa to sharply focus on mental and emotional wellbeing.

  • With wellness tourism poised for exponential growth post-pandemic, more hotel brands are keen to get in on the act
  • From introducing wellness butlers to forging partnerships with wellness-related businesses, hotels are stepping up their wellness game
  • Wellness-boosting initiatives by hospitality brands expand into the digital space to support guests remotely
More eco- and mid-scale hospitality brands jumping on the wellness bandwagon to tap rising demand

Wellness is slated to become part of a hotel’s core DNA post-Covid, and industry experts predict it will delve much deeper than yoga and a spa to sharply focus on mental and emotional wellbeing.

While the wellness movement has been rapidly gaining momentum even before Covid-19, it is predicted to vastly accelerate post-pandemic as travellers seek respite from long periods of uncertainty, lockdowns and restrictions on everyday life.

At the virtual Arabian Travel Mart, Emlyn Brown, global vice president of Accor well-being luxury and premium brands, said in 2019, 80 to 85 per cent of luxury guests were making conscious daily steps to incorporate health and wellbeing into their lives.

He added: “This will vastly accelerate post-Covid. People now understand more the importance of taking care of their health and wellbeing, boosting immunity and looking after themselves.”

Once largely the preserve of luxury brands, Brown said the pandemic has seen the wellness movement start to trickle down to eco- and mid-scale brands.

He noted: “Millennials and Gen Z are looking for that fitness, health and wellness element; they expect it. This generational shift will drive demand into the eco- and mid-scale sector, whether its Ibis Styles encouraging outdoor exercise (or) mid-scale hotels like Novotel encouraging mindfulness.”

Brown observed wellbeing is already being integrated into some hotel brands’ core ethos. For example, Accor’s Raffles Hotels and Resorts introduced ‘wellness butlers’. They are on-hand to see to guests’ every wellbeing-related need in-room.

This forms part of the Emotional Wellbeing by Raffles programme that offers curated experiences based around the pillars of harmonious design, nutrition for pleasure and serenity rituals.

Accor’s M Gallery brand hotels have formed partnerships with wellness-related businesses and experiences close to properties. Wellness concierges are trained to be able to assess guests’ needs and make tailored recommendations.

Said Brown: “This engages people in unique locations and experiences. The idea of concierges now adding a wellness element is going to be something all hotels need to consider.”

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is also enhancing its wellness experiences in response to the pandemic.

Jeremy McCarthy, director of spa and wellness, said: “We see people looking for programmes to develop themselves. They (not only) want to build physical strength and make sure their immune system is strong, but also (cultivate their) inner strength. This is about building mental resilience because of living through this time of great uncertainty, stress and anxiety.”

The group started by crafting a four-week, online Inner Strength, Outer Strength training programme that encompasses physical wellness, vitality and mindfulness. This was initially delivered to employees.

Noted McCarthy: “If we want our colleagues to really be able to take care of our guests, they have to be strong themselves.”

The concept was then rolled out across its spas. The programmes allow guests to tap into the knowledge of expert trainers and practitioners, such as traditional Chinese medicine specialists, kung fu masters and meditation teachers.

The hospitality brand has also developed a series of virtual assessments and online tips to support guests remotely. This marks another emerging trend within the sector that sees the wellness and digital worlds collide.

Elsewhere, Pullman Hotels and Resorts has teamed up with Les Mills, the world’s largest creator of group fitness classes, to launch Pullman Power Fitness Fuelled by Les Mills. This gives guests access to multiple workouts and training sessions via on-demand videos that can be accessed from anywhere for a certain time.

Novotel is also working with popular sleep app, Calm, to offer guests who stay in an Executive Room a 60-day pass.

Said Brown: “Another big shift is towards the sixth pillar, the digital adoption of wellness and wellbeing, and how we can do that in a good way.”

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