PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Interest in wellness is greater than ever as people are re-evaluating their priorities and try to focus more on their health in a period of much uncertainty, a distressed economy and a public health crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic, participants heard at ILHA’s webinar on 14 October, which was moderated by Roger A. Allen, group CEO at Resources for Leisure Assets.
“We’re very bullish on wellness,” said Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, one of the panelists at the webinar. She said increased demand has significant implications for all players in the $4.5 trillion wellness economy, including luxury hotels, which she believes have many opportunities to improve ROI in this segment.
Explore growth areas in wellness
There are ongoing shifts in the wellness industry, which were accelerated by Covid-19, according to Ellis. Some areas are shrinking, while some other fields, such as wellness real estate, are seeing growth. She said people are increasingly seeking to live in a healthy environment, which puts hotels and resorts with residences in an advantageous situation. The growing number of digital nomads or those working part-time to stay longer also provide opportunities to hotels, Ellis added.
Mental wellness is another area foreseen to increase in importance. Ella Kent, Director of Rooms at the Sea Island Resort on the southeastern coast of Georgia, said a survey of spa-goers during the lockdown showed that people were paying as much attention to their mental health as they were to their physical condition. “We’ve not seen that before,” she said.
Andrew Gibson, chairman of the Wellness Tourism Association, has underlined that top spenders in hotels are those guests who use wellness facilities. He said they normally spend double on food and beverage, stay 1.5 days longer in average and are 33% more likely to take suites at the hotel.
Operators should also note that luxury wellness hotels are experiencing a shift in guest demographics. Kent at Sea Island said they previously marketed mostly to visitors aged over 60 and wellness was passive in the spa. Today they have more guests from the 45-60 age group, who are seeking things to do outside the spa and activities that speak to nature, such as rock climbing and fishing. Many of them travel with children and want to get involved in outdoor activities instead of sitting by the pool.
Be innovative to beat challenges
Despite the fairly rosy outlook on overall demand for wellness, hotels and resorts are facing several challenges, mostly as they cannot plan ahead for the longer term. The booking window at Sea Island, for example, has shrunk to five days from three months and adding new infrastructure is now off the table, Kent said. She expects 2021 to be a transitional year for most hotels.
The chances of survival and future recovery largely depends on location for most properties. Kent said Sea Island is “blessed to be” located on the seaside, and is “very, very