Juicing is out, biohacking is booming, and other wellness trends to note in 2024 within the travel and tourism sphere
Wellness has seemingly never been more accessible, with any hotel worth its Epsom salt investing in mindful and health-related practices. The Global Wellness Institute estimates that the world’s wellness tourism market is projected to reach $1 trillion in 2024, and rising.
And yet, reading the news suggests we have never been more anxious or exhausted. In 2024, travellers are seeking to slow down, recharge and most importantly, be healthier. Pinterest cites ‘rest stops’ and ‘slowcations’ among 2024 priorities for Gen Z and millennials, with ‘ASMR sleep’ as a trending search term.
Forest bathing and sound healing are now familiar terms within the wellness lexicon, and are as readily available as poolside steam rooms. There is a tussle between authentic experiences that major on the great outdoors and technology-driven treatments, with an ever-growing roster of biohacking practices.
Increasingly, hotels are going beyond basic wellbeing to address concerns including mental health, trauma and anxiety. “There is huge interest in calming the nervous system through somatic experiences and sensory integration,” comments Anna Bjurstam, a strategic advisor for wellness at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.
These are the wellness travel trends shaping the tourism industry in 2024.
Longevity and biohacking
Longevity gained traction in 2023 and continues to resonate in 2024. Silicon Valley’s tech titans are fascinated with the idea of living forever – Jeff Bezos is one of many who has invested in Altos Labs, the generously funded biotech startup seeking immortality, while Indian-American entrepreneur and investor Balaji Srinivasan cites ‘eternal life’ as one of his key endeavours.
For mere mortals, an attempt to extend a healthy life can be aided by interventions outside of traditional medicine. This segues into biohacking, another buzzword that dovetails with longevity. It refers to optimising one’s health through ‘hacking’ practices such as light therapy, intermittent fasting and ice baths. It often crops up in conversations relating to poor sleep, stress and jet lag, with varying degrees of intensity. Advancements in AI and wearable tech are silencing critics that have previously dismissed biohacking as do-it-yourself quackery.
“Biohacking is the art of pursuing excellence in our physical and mental realms,” says Anna Bjurstam of Six Senses. The resort group, which has backed biohacking since 2015, counts IV infusions, photobiomodulation (red light sauna) and cryotherapy as ways to ‘hack your holiday’, supported by diagnostic screening tests and sleep tracking.
Six Senses Ibiza goes as far as referring to its spa and wellness offering as a longevity clinic, where guests book in for one, three or seven day programmes, to recline in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber before a dose of infrared heat, alongside guided fasting programmes. “Fasting holds so many health benefits but it needs to be done right, and how to break a fast is almost as important as the fast itself,” continues Bjurstam. “Women also require a very different regimen from men.”
Bespoke luxury fitness
For the one per cent, luxury fitness and wellness has never been more personalised. At SIRO One Za’Abeel, a new wellness-focused hotel opening in Dubai in February 2024, each guest partakes in a 3D body scan on arrival before embarking on a tailor-made programme with dedicated coaching and guidance throughout their stay, combining “cutting-edge technologies, pioneering fitness and recovery protocols.”
“Wellness is not one-size-fits-all. Guests are looking for bespoke solutions that deliver genuine, sustainable results,” comments Nils Behrens, CMO of the Lanserhof group, the internationally renowned high-end health resort-cum-clinic with locations in Austria and Germany, alongside an outpost in partnership with The Arts Club London. Priced from 5,900 EUR for a seven-day stay, guests adhere to a tailored, no-nonsense regime of medical therapies, based on genetic and lifestyle factors. “Even customised relaxation techniques are becoming standard. There has been a shift from pampering holidays to journeys that offer authentic, culturally embedded wellness experiences.”
The newly opened, billion-pound Raffles London at The OWO places ultra-personalised fitness at the heart of its wellness offering, which includes bespoke exercise and recovery programmes in collaboration with Pillar Wellbeing, alongside a 20-metre subterranean swimming pool. The hotel also boasts a stratospherically glossy, four-floor Guerlain Spa, with treatments specifically designed to target tensions relating to travel, environmental stressors and a hectic lifestyle.
Wellness is an increasingly convivial affair, with networking events as likely to occur in a vinyasa flow class as a cocktail bar. Remedy Place, a social wellness club with outposts in New York and Los Angeles, places emphasis on treatments that can be enjoyed in a group setting. “I would often hear from my patients that they felt really lonely, as everything associated with socialising was deemed unhealthy,” comments founder and CEO Dr. Jonathan Leary. “I launched Remedy Place to demonstrate that good health and an active social life are not mutually exclusive.”
The high-end club focuses on ‘holistic technologies’, with therapies including acupuncture and IV drips, amid slick social spaces designed to combine “hospitality and healthcare.”
Community wellness is thriving and hotels are taking heed: Aparthotel brand Locke, where guests are often solo business travellers, has a regular programme of yoga and revolving workshops, while Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hosts a monthly run club. 1 Hotel Mayfair also organises park runs, alongside a packed calendar of nutritional workshops, ‘sculpt and brunch’ sessions and group sound bath experiences.
Aman’s sibling brand, Janu, which launches in Tokyo this March 2024, will place ‘social wellness’ at its core. In contrast to Aman’s hushed properties, which prioritise privacy, Janu encourages “shared group adventures” and “thriving in the company of others”. Don’t expect to be rubbing shoulders too closely though – Janu’s gym will be the largest in Tokyo at 240 sq m, complemented by a 25-metre swimming pool, movement studios, treatment rooms and two spa houses, available to hotel guests and Janu Tokyo Wellness Collective members.
On the flip side, those feeling less social can choose from a wealth of in-room fitness amenities. Yoga mats are now as commonplace as kettles, and Peloton bikes are now found in all US Hilton hotels.
In London, The Ship Shape Suite at Sea Containers, owned by the Lore group, takes it one step further, fully-equipped with Peloton bike, training equipment – including dumbbells, Technogym bands and a weighted bench – and a VAHA interactive fitness class mirror, offering personalised training on demand. Switch on for Pilates, strength training and cardio, and recover with a Theragun Pro massage tool.
Immersive outdoor wellness
While hiking, biking and swimming are perennially popular, hotels are offering more adventurous outdoor activities informed by local culture and tradition. At the end of 2023, Hyatt launched its Wellbeing Collective at 30 of its properties, with a view to expand further in 2024. At the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa in Texas, guests can partake in guided lassoing workshops within the Pines wilderness, while at the Hawaiian Andaz Maui At Wailea Resort they can explore the waters of Mōkapu Beach by canoe.
Interestingly, the programme has been crafted with a growing business traveller demographic in mind, looking to take advantage of “wellbeing opportunities while on the road.”
“Our guests want to reconnect with the wild,” comments Oliver Ripley, CEO and co-founder of Our Habitas, the luxury resort group noted for its exhilarating outdoor experiences in otherworldly landscapes, alongside holistic wellness and local culture. At the newly opened Our Habitas Ras Abrouq resort in Qatar, guests can try kayaking and paddleboarding, as well as pottery, calligraphy classes, al sadu weaving workshops and starlit evening sound ceremonies. Elsewhere, its Moroccan location, Caravan Dakhla, majors on kitesurfing, while Our Habitas Namibia in Africa runs guided retreats. “Our guests are looking for human connection, and experiences that blend ancient practices with technology.”
Cold water sojourns
Cold water plunges are not new, but tailored cold water swimming holidays are on the rise, with many travellers opting to spend their annual leave submerged in sub-zero temperatures. In the Lake District, Rothay Manor and Another Place both offer guided cold water retreats, where stargazing swims are complemented by outdoor hikes, and guests can thaw off by an open fire, drink in hand.
“Interest in cold water immersion and cold-water swimming has grown beyond recognition,” comments Colin Hill of Another Place. “You don’t need to be an athlete to get the benefits of a quick dip on an icy morning. It is also recognised as a fun group activity, feeding into the idea of social wellness.”
The continual quest for more and better sleep remains high on the agenda in 2024, with sleep tourism showing no signs of abating. Hilton reports that the number one priority for travellers in 2024 is to ‘rest and recharge’, while Skyscanner cites that more than a third of travellers hold sleep as a top priority while on holiday.
At the Equinox Hotel New York, each soundproofed room – or sleep chamber, as they are devoutly referred to – features a wooden bed frame topped with a natural, spring-free mattress and handcrafted linens, designed to deliver the ultimate slumber. Those serious about sleeping can book in for a two-night The Art + Science of Sleep package, which includes a session on the hotel’s Spa Wave Table, which uses sound and harmonic therapy to provide the equivalent rest of three hours sleep in 30 minutes.
Mental health awareness
“For so long, mental health was a taboo subject, both for travellers and many healthcare professionals,” comments Dr Anna Baeza of SHA Wellness Clinic, where socialites and burnt-out CEOs check in for mud wraps, morning hikes and diagnostic testing with a phalanx of practitioners. Emotional health and stress management are given the same top billing as nutrition and physical performance, aided through psychological consultations and coaching sessions.
JetBlue Airways reports that its guided meditation and breath work videos, created in partnership with mindfulness studio Open, are amongst its most popular in-flight entertainment, with the ‘Deep Rest’ episode ranking as the third most popular piece of viewing content. Meanwhile, Hyatt’s ongoing partnership with Headspace provides coloured noise content to all guests, designed to decrease stress and improve sleep.
And what’s out…
Juicing and extreme diets
Nils Behrens of Lanserhof notes that “extreme diets and intensive detox programmes are no longer in favour, as guests seek a more balanced and scientifically backed approach to health and wellness.”
“Juicing has been on the way out for a long time,” Balaji Srinivasan of Six Senses concurs. “There are also so many wellness influencers that I think we will see a general weeding, and only the truly good ones will remain and grow.”
Deadly dull gyms
Gone are the days of treadmill-lined hotel basements, and travellers now expect studios and fitness spaces every bit as stylish and consciously considered as a hotel’s social areas. “Dark gyms with bulky equipment are no longer popular. People train differently and take a more sustainable approach to their health,” comments Deanna Brash, company general manager at Bodyism, which has hosted residences at OKU Ibiza, Soho House Canouan and Heckfield Place in Hampshire, alongside its cocooning studio in Notting Hill, where softly lit studios bring serenity to even the most gruelling of core workouts, and the waft of essential oils fills the air. “In 2024, there will be a continued rise in bringing nature indoors and curating gym spaces which are light and bright with more functional training spaces.”