Transformative travel, healthy kitchens among 2018 trends

MIAMI—This past October, more than 600 wellness experts from 40-plus countries met at The Breakers resort in nearby Palm Beach to discuss trends in their field at the Global Wellness Summit. The findings were compiled in the “Eight Wellness Trends for 2018” report, which was recently released by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), based here.

While the focus of the report was wellness in every aspect of life, a number of trends fall within the realm of the hospitality and travel industries.

The trend perhaps most near and dear to the hotel industry is “A New Era of Transformative Wellness Travel.” Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO of GWI, provided some examples of transformative experiences that hotels and resorts are offering their guests.

“In the era of transformative wellness travel, we know that people want to be out in nature, so, if possible, a hotel can involve walks, meditations, offering lunch outside, etc.—pushing people to do things in places where they have more of an emotional experience instead of just being in the guestroom,” she said. “Unplugging is another part of it because everyone is so plugged in that the opportunity to have silence and to get away from their devices will be transformative. Engaging with culture in the area can also be transformative. What is transformative is different for everyone, but it can happen whether you are on a week retreat, weekend getaway or even in an hour.”

The report offered an example of the trend: Six Senses Bhutan, which will open later this year, will feature a multi-chapter wellness circuit where guests journey across five lodges, with each one totally immersed in one of five key pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index.

Another important trend is “The Wellness Kitchen.” According to the report, the wellness kitchen will store and showcase fresh fruits and vegetables—as opposed to processed foods—and new designs and technology will celebrate uncluttered, well-ventilated spaces that are as encouraging of socializing as they are of preparing healthy food.

“While there has certainly been a movement toward offering more healthy menu items at hotel restaurants, it is also important to make it something that people see. It’s not just something that you can look at the menu and see that there’s a healthy meal on it,” said Ellis. “It should be communicated visually. If there’s an open kitchen, there could be some fruits and vegetables on display, or there’s an herb garden that guests can visit. The minibar could have some healthier choices, and meeting spaces can have apples for attendees instead of candies and snacks.”

“Getting Our Clean Air Act Together” is a trend that is important to not only hotels, but every living thing on the planet. The report cited that both the indoor and outdoor air that we breathe has been responsible for the premature deaths of 6.5 million people worldwide, and that more than 90% of the world’s population now breathes air that violates air quality guidelines.

Ellis pointed out that air quality has become top of mind to hotel guests. “I asked an executive at Delos, the company that has developed the Stay Well room, what is the thing that guests want more than anything out of their hotel room. Is it perhaps better lighting, a stronger shower or a high-quality bed? He said, by far, it is air purification,” she said. “That is what the people are really looking for because there’s more understanding now that indoor air can be really toxic. There are a lot of places, including hotels, where windows cannot be opened. One is stuck with whatever air is circulating. So, now there’s a lot more attention to having fresher air and more circulation than before. There are some hotels that will have rooms that have specific air purification in them. At our last summit, we had the guys from Partnering Robotics of France show us their wellness robot. One of the things it does is measure the air quality. Another thing hotels can do is display what their air quality is, making it visible that they made an effort to have more purified air.”

She continued, “We see this as a trend that is going to become more and more important to people, even to the point where there’s technology such as an app that will tell you how pure the air is. So, it’s not going to just be about saying you’re doing something about air purification. You’ll really have to do it because people will know.”

Yet another wellness trend that has its place in the hospitality industry is “Extreme Wellness.” When one associates the word extreme to wellness, strenuous workouts, spinning classes and obstacle courses come to mind. Ellis offered a different type of extreme, something that can be found inside the guestroom.

“There’s being more extreme in the sleep realm, which is very important to a hotel,” she said. “There’s so much attention to sleep hygiene and what’s in the room, such as the lighting and the materials in the bedding. Maybe it’s having a sleep concierge. Someone could call that extreme, and that will be very attractive to people staying in hotels.”

The most surprising trend, at least to Ellis, was “Mushrooms Emerge From the Underground.” The report noted that the underground kingdom of mushrooms is the largest set of organisms on the planet, and in 2018, more people will explore the medicine they provide to our brains and bodies. It said that microdosing psilocybin as a brain booster, which is popular in Silicon Valley, will go more global.

There are ways of infusing mushrooms into hotels, Ellis noted. “I would imagine maybe there will be a little bit more mushrooms on the menu in the restaurant,” she said. “And, bath amenities can feature mushrooms within the ingredients. It is exciting to think that you can eat or use something that could actually affect you for months in terms of, say, helping you with your depression and other ailments.”

The 2018 Global Wellness Summit will take place at the global headquarters of Technogym in Cesena, Italy, on Oct. 6-8. Ellis noted that the 2019 wellness trends report is expected to be released in late January 2019. HB