Wellness Tourism: Travelers' 2024 Pursuits

Woman standing in ankle deep water looking over the horizon
by Jennie Wang
Marketing Coordinator

The wellness industry is shaking up travel itineraries. Travelers’ latest pursuits involve chasing the fountain of youth. Looking good is now just a side effect of feeling good, and health is the new wealth. Wellness tourism is expected to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a leading research organization for the wellness industry. What’s more, these tourists are consistently spending more money than the average traveler. 

According to the American Psychology Association (APA), chronic illness and mental health disorders are on the rise, with three in five adults (62%) stating they don’t talk about their stress for fear of burdening others (sounds stressful, right?). For years, people have coveted vacation days, but now there’s so much more that a destination can offer weary travelers beyond a place of respite.

Below we’ll explore some of the latest wellness travel trends and dive into what these travelers are looking to book for 2024. 

Sleep Tourism

According to a recent Gallup poll, over half (57%) of adults in the U.S. said they would feel better if they got more sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and we know that long-term sleep deprivation has been associated with depression, anxiety, mental health issues and increased stress levels. According to  Hilton’s latest traveler survey, over half of every generation of travelers state that getting rest and recharging is their top travel motivation this year. 

It’s no surprise, then, that sleep tourism has become such a hit. This wellness trend is all about sleep-enhancement amenities and programs. While there are luxury getaways such as Equinox Hotels, offering a range of treatments targeting the ultimate sleep experience like sleep IV drips, black-out blinds and sleep coaching –  a good night's sleep doesn’t need to be a luxury experience. It should be a given. Plus, travelers are taking matters into their own hands too and shifting their daily habits for those extra zzz’s. These travelers, specifically younger Gen Zers, are swapping mocktails in place of alcoholic beverages, opting for the best beds versus location and have even started traveling with their favorite pillows.

A bed with a wood headboard and white linens and pillows with a nightstand

Blue Zone Retreats

The Netflix hit series Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones brought to people’s attention that in certain places of the world, people are living longer, healthier and happier lives. But why? In tandem with the sleep tourism movement, many of us started asking ourselves how we could live (happily) to 100 too. In this docuseries, researchers found nine common factors in each blue zone associated with higher life expectancy. 

What are Blue Zones? They are certain regions where people are living longer than average, have reduced inflammation associated with stress and overall have significantly lower rates of chronic disease due to their lifestyles. There are five identified Blue Zones in the world: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

Fortunately, you don’t need to move to a blue zone to immerse yourself in a truly life-changing experience these days. Resorts and wellness centers are catching on. Places such as Kamalaya in Thailand or the Juniper Retreat Center in Santa Fe have partnered with Blue Zones to host workshops, retreats and activities revolving around the blue zone secrets to longevity.

Biohacking

State-of-the-art spas are no longer enough for biohacking connoisseurs who spend their downtime chasing immortality. Longevity medicine has found its way into the limelight, and in constant pursuit of improved health and wellness, travelers have taken to biohacking vacations.

So, what is biohacking? Essentially, it’s a range of lifestyle modifications, practices and technologies aimed at improving physical and mental performance for the healthiest life possible. Treatments range from IV drips, infrared light therapies, cryotherapy, stem cell treatments, specialized diets and much more. 

Opal Collection’s Wentworth by the Sea and The Sagamore now offer salt therapy treatments in their spas. Salt therapy, also known as halotherapy, involves relaxing while breathing in dry salt aerosol in a climate-controlled room. Salt therapy is known for its ability to clear toxins from the respiratory system, reduce inflammation, improve mood, and help clear up skin conditions.

The Fairmont Spa Century Plaza in L.A. has partnered with Dr. Oz Garcia, offering customized biohacking treatments in their spa year-round. Similarly, the  RoseBar at Six Senses Ibiza has partnered with Dr. Mark Hyman and created a longevity club aimed at “defying the concept of aging.” 

Multi-Gen Wellness Getaways

A father and son standing on a beach looking over the water with boats and birds flying at sunset

While multigenerational trips aren’t new, there’s a fresh outlook on the horizon: family bonding retreats. These getaways are growing in popularity and are aimed at creating a nurturing and healthy environment for families to destress and hit a reset button together. There’s a growing emphasis on the importance of educating younger generations on healthy habits and lifestyle choices. Resorts and hotels are recognizing this and embracing intergenerational retreats and activities.

Woodloch Pines Family Resort in Pennsylvania offers acres of nature where families can practice archery, biking, hiking and even participate in garden programs. Another example is Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, known as the “family wellness retreat,” which has made family wellness their main philosophy.

Immersive Activities Connecting with Nature

Globally, over 50% of the population lives in urban areas. With so much of the population residing in cities and urban environments, there’s a ripe opportunity for travel destinations, hotels and wellness centers around the world to offer a connection to nature. 

two women walking through the woods on a wooden walkway

Numerous studies have found that spending time in nature improves mental health, boosts the immune system, lowers stress, and improves memory and emotional well-being. Concepts such as forest bathing, originating in Japan, and sound therapy are now normalized and sought out as travelers are catching on to the positive and healing effects of immersing themselves in nature for extended periods of time. 

Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, offers a weekly Nature Discovery program. This program, led by an on-site naturalist, features immersive and educational nature and wildlife activities, including beach walks, critter connections and learning about native plants. Serenbe, a yoga and retreat center in Georgia, offers guided hikes and forest bathing, yoga classes for corporate bodies and minds and even outdoor goat yoga classes (yoga classes with Nigerian Dwarf goats).

What’s Next?

Just as our fast-paced and digital modern world isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, the trend of wellness tourism shows no signs of fading. Embrace and advocate for the unique qualities of your destination that foster improved health, deeper connections and vibrant communities. 

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