The term "wellness holiday" might make you think of saunas and massages. But there's so much more to consider if you're booking a getaway to really get away. Here are seven wellness holiday trends from around the world:
It's not just about salon time
There was a time when holidaymakers took a break by going to a hotel cellar to get a quick rubdown with essential oils. Maybe there was a sauna and a beauty salon somewhere. That has changed radically.
Today, many hotels offer lush bathing landscapes and large spas to serve very different needs. "The hoteliers are preparing themselves for additional requests," says journalist Christian Werner of the RELAX Guide in Vienna, such as wellness with children, only for adults or serving organic cuisine.
Wellness is a complete lifestyle
Lutz Hertel of the German Wellness Association sees a strong need for real wellness instead of short, everyday escapes. Exotic treatments such as Lomi Lomi Nui, a form of massage from Hawaii, are losing market share. There is a stronger demand for yoga, which can be incorporated into the daily routine at any holiday resort.
Claudia Wagner of travel agency Fit Reisen also sees a need for holistic self-optimization. Her guests want deeply effective, individual breaks for stress management, weight loss, detox or anti-aging treatments.
Everything goes back to nature
Hiking, forest bathing, yoga, tai chi and bouldering: The experts see a turn toward nature. Forests and meadows become the backdrops for sport, meditation or even open-air massages. And the boundaries between wellness and sport are blurred.
Werner says the demand for the good old fitness room with treadmills and weights is declining. If you want to keep people coming to the hotel gym, it's got to have the latest generation of machines.
Bring nature to the spa
"Old Roman columns and artificial palms in bathing landscapes are a thing of the past," Hertel says. Especially in Bavaria, Austria and South Tyrol, the spa areas inside are often enlivened with moss, plants and small trees, and built with a view and entrance into the countryside. Prized outside appearances include wood and stone – if possible from the region – as well as features such as hot springs, natural swimming ponds and forest proximity.
Find remedies from the region
Regional treatments to strengthen the powers of self-healing also follow the natural trend. In the Ulten Valley in South Tyrol, the lanolin in the cozy sheep's wool bath allows you to benefit from the natural Alpine herbs that the sheep have eaten. In Halkidiki in Greece, rituals with olive oil, salt, medicinal herbs, yogurt and honey are based on ancient Greek healing methods. In Northern Ireland, an ancient bathing tradition with algae has been revived under the name Sea Haven Therapy.
The classic health resorts are increasingly taking part, vying for ever-more-demanding wellness customers with traditional local remedies. In the Limes-Therme Bad Goegging, for example, guests sweat in the moor mud bath or indulge in a hop bath, which includes a beer.
Caress the soul
Mental support assists the body in healing: Modern forms of traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda use this approach, which has become more important for wellness. "We recognize more and more that our mental condition contributes significantly to the self-healing of the body," Wagner says.
Always take it nice and slow
In yoga, the trend is toward calm yin yoga, where you take your time settling into deep stretches instead of getting your heart rate up with a powerful series of sun salutes. When it comes to fitness, "slow jogging" promises healthy, weight-reducing pleasure running.
Hertel sees the new jogging trend as the expression of a new philosophy that strives for a better work-life balance. "It is about a less rushed, more conscious and more enjoyable life," comparable to the slow food movement.