As the global wellness market flexes its rejuvenated muscles, poised to leap past the $1 trillion mark in 2024, the travel industry is experiencing its own kind of “spa-tacular” transformation. In a world of pampered travels and holistic retreats, “well-being” is not just a state of mind but a journey travelers are willing to shell out big bucks for in pursuit of unparalleled rest and rejuvenation.
The Rapid Growth of Wellness Tourism and Its Economic Impact
The fast-growing trend in wellness tourism is reshaping how people view and experience travel. It’s no longer about finding a place to relax but also about finding balance and health on the go. As self-care and well-being take center stage, the wellness tourism sector is proving to be a financial powerhouse.
According to the Global Wellness Institute’s Global Wellness Economy Monitor 2023, this sector is not just thriving; it’s redefining luxury travel. With projections showing wellness tourism will cross the staggering trillion-dollar mark in 2024 (up to $1.4 trillion by 2027), it’s clear what was once a niche market is now a major player in the global economy.
This remarkable growth isn’t just a number; it represents a paradigm shift in how people perceive travel. Gone are the days when vacations were solely about sightseeing itineraries and checking off bucket lists. Today’s travelers are increasingly booking journeys that rejuvenate their bodies, enrich their minds, and nurture their spirits.
“When we visited Granada, we enjoyed the spa at the luxury hotel Hospes Palacio de los Patos immensely,” says Mikkel Woodruff, Editor of Sometimes Home. “Retreating to the Bodyna Spa during the day for a break from touring the city or at night to enjoy the hotel’s relaxation pool was exactly the rejuvenation we needed. It reminded us how much value there is for your mind, body, and spirit when you take a break from sightseeing to luxuriate in self-care.”
Legacy hospitality brands have been quick to respond to this shift in traveler preferences. Giants like Hilton have embraced the trend wholeheartedly, coining 2024 as “The Year of the Great Recharge.” More than a catchy phrase, it’s a testament to how deeply the wellness concept has penetrated the travel industry.
“Boutique hotels and hospitality operators are responding in kind with both traditional treatments and unique offerings that cater to the burgeoning wellness-focused traveler,” says Kelly Fausel, Founder of Power Suit PR.
Marriott’s 2024 Travel Trends Forecast further underscores this trend. The report reveals that wellness isn’t just a part of their offering – it’s at the forefront. Today’s travelers want more than just regular spa visits. They’re after experiences that help them escape life’s busy pace and find deeper meaning. They want to connect more with themselves and the world and the travel industry is listening.
Karen Kelly, a freelance food and travel writer from Seasonal Cravings, says, “My husband and I love visiting the spa and wellness center when we travel and look for hotels that have these amenities. Our favorite is the cold plunge ice bath and sauna. It can be a bit challenging, but it is so worth the effort and can improve circulation and reduce stress.”
Luxury Accommodations Lead the Way
From yoga retreats in desert landscapes to mindfulness retreats focusing on mental and emotional well-being, here are some of the luxury hotels redefining wellness tourism.
Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
“Our open-air Spa Without Walls is designed to offer a wide spectrum of wellness services that facilitate healing, rejuvenate the soul, and offer a deep sense of place,” shares Fairmont Orchid Spa Director Mellissa Majors. “It’s increasingly become a destination spa enjoyed by kamaʻaina (locals) and hotel guests alike, as we offer spa services that pair the ancient wisdom of our native Hawaiian kūpuna (elders) with the healing elements of Hawaiʻi Island. Our goal is to help each guest achieve a state of wellness as their mind, body, and soul harmonize with our healing environment.”
The Phoenician, Arizona
The world-renowned Phoenician Spa received the Forbes Five Star Award in 2023 for the fourth consecutive year. Signature offerings of the three-story, 1,400 square-foot facility include a rooftop pool, Quiet Relaxation Room, Drybar, nail salon, fitness center for personal training, movement studio, and more.
Brenner’s Park-Hotel & Spa, Germany
This luxury hotel has been a pioneer in the European spa movement since the 1980s. The Villa Stéphanie Spa & Wellbeing is a dedicated space within the hotel for the complete spa experience. Spanning five floors, it houses fifteen luxurious rooms, including three impressive spa suites equipped with private spa areas, spacious sauna landscapes, a plunge pool, and stylish treatment rooms.
“It exudes the ambiance of a grand private residence, ensuring each guest enjoys a personalized and tailored spa experience,” says Monika Potzy, PR & Influencer Manager at Brenner’s Park-Hotel & Spa. “The valuable overall concept is complemented by our Brenners Medical Care. Next to the Villa Stéphanie, guests will find multifaceted health and wellbeing options, including preventive medicine, integrative naturopathic diagnostics, physical therapy, and healthy nutrition.”
Mission Point Resort Lakeside Spa and Salon – Michigan
Whether visiting Mackinac Island for the day or enjoying a family vacation there, Mission Point Resort offers the island’s only full-service spa. Guests can relax with a full day of pampering, signature body treatments, massage therapy, facials, hair and nail services, and more, including a quiet relaxation space.
“My wife had a wonderfully relaxing time at the spa while the kids and I enjoyed a bike ride around Mackinac Island,” says frequent traveler Rodney Blunt. “She was thrilled to have some pampering ‘me time’ even while on a family vacation, which made staying at the resort an ideal balance for all of us. It’s great to find a place that caters to the whole family’s enjoyment and relaxation.”
Namale Resort & Spa, Fiji
Namale Resort & Spa in Vanua Levu, Fiji, is an adults-only boutique resort popular with couples celebrating milestones like honeymoons and anniversaries. During their stay, guests can use the complimentary spa hydrotherapy room, including a hot tub facing the Koro Sea, a cold plunge, four aromatherapy pools, a sauna, and an indoor waterfall massage.
“For guests who choose to enjoy a treatment in our award-winning spa, couples massages are a special experience,” says Alissa Harrison, Sales & Marketing Manager at the resort. Guests can choose from a selection of signature massages, including the traditional Fijian Bobo massage or one of the unique evening options, Sunset Bliss and Moonlight Magic.
Restorative Sleep Studio at Park Terrace Hotel – New York
The Park Terrace Hotel in New York City is stepping up the game in travel comfort with its new Restorative Sleep Studio. Their AI-Powered Restorative Bed isn’t just any bed; it’s a smart bed. It changes its settings throughout the night to fit exactly what each person needs for a good night’s sleep. The bed can cool down or warm up and even adjust how firm it is, making sure guests get the deepest sleep possible. By blending comfort with the latest sleep technology, the Park Terrace Hotel shows how wellness tourism is changing, giving travelers not just luxury but a whole new level of care for their health and relaxation.
Four Seasons – Missouri
Located in the heart of the St. Loius downtown entertainment district and next to the iconic Mississippi River, the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis offers a resort-style experience for guests, including their Spa After Dark package. This ultra-luxurious experience allows two guests exclusive access to the 12,000 sq. foot spa, where they’ll enjoy a specially curated wellness package as the Four Seasons team caters to their every whim.
Traver writer Alex Caspero says, “I do a staycation at the Four Seasons in St. Louis every year just because of their spa. Not only is the massage top-notch, but I also get access to the entire spa during my stay, including the sauna rooms, heated pools, and even the special spa menu. When I’m done being pampered for the day, I can either head to the rooftop pool for more relaxation or head right up to my room to call in room service. It’s the best kind of pampering!”
The growing wellness tourism industry shows how much people now value health and relaxation on their travels. Around the world, from serene spas to high-tech sleep studios, luxury accommodations are meeting the call for vacations that do more than entertain – they rejuvenate, refresh, and redefine what it means to travel for well-being.
This article was produced for Media Decision and syndicated by Our Woven Journey.
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.