The global wellness market is currently worth $1.5 trillion and shows no sign of slowing down. Lucie Grace predicts this year’s most innovative spa and wellness trends
Health is at the forefront of our minds more than ever these days. So it’s no wonder that an annual growth of 20.9 per cent in the spa and wellness tourism arena is predicted by the Global Wellness Institute for 2022.
Whether travellers are booking domestic, international or intercontinental trips, they are increasingly likely to book a break that is wellbeing focused. Self care on holiday doesn’t just offer your guests a relaxing and restorative break. It might have long-lasting, positive benefits for their mental and physical health.
Spanning the cosmetic to medicinal and back again, here are the top eight spa and wellness trends to look out for in 2022.
Spa hostels in Europe
Thought spas were for retired folks? Think again. Following the emotional upheaval of Covid, millennial and Gen Z travellers are increasingly booking trips with self care on the agenda. A handful of European hostels are happy to step in, providing spa experiences that would usually be reserved for expensive hotels rather than backpacker lodgings.
Mega chain Selina offers thermal spa waters, meditation, massages and yoga retreats in the Bad Gastien Alps of Austria, as well as cheap dorm accommodation. Then, the award-winning, independent Green Elephant Hostel (pictured) in Maastricht, the Netherlands has a grand total of three saunas, a hammam, bucket showers and a cooling ice wall, as well as dorms, private rooms and vegan eats.
The forefather of them all is Switzerland’s Wellness Hostel 4000, which opened in 2014 in the Saas valley and is the jewel in Hosteling International’s crown. The soaring mountains views are almost as soothing as the wellness area, complete with saunas, an indoor swimming pool, whirlpools and foot baths.
We’ve seen a number of sumptuous seaweed therapies crop up across the UK and Ireland this year, with innovative spas harvesting the goodness in our natural surroundings to create relaxing, detoxifying spa treatments. A stand-out offering comes from Connemara Seaweed Baths in County Galway, which gives a nod to the centuries-old, ritualistic tradition of seaweed bathing, by recreating the conditions of the sea in decadent, freestanding bathtubs.
Following a session in the steam room, the hour-long treatment sees guests soak in a tub filled with comfortably warm seawater and ribbons of freshly harvested seaweed – before jumping into a cold, seawater plunge pool to improve circulation and close their pores. The treatment (closed until Easter) reportedly provides a natural cure for skin ailments and acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Seawater spas and thalassotherapy
The ancient practice of thalassotherapy has been making a big comeback in recent years, harnessing the healing power of seawater to create decadent spa treatments. Taking a nod from revered institutions like the Dead Sea Clinic in Israel, the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa is home to the only spa in Tahiti that drives fresh seawater from 900m below up into its thalassotherapy suites.
Hydro-massages, wraps and scrubs that stimulate the circulation and soothe joints and muscles are all on the menu, as well as pearl rain massages and a ‘water journey’ treatment. This involves alternating jacuzzi and cold seawater pools, their massaging jets spraying the healing waters. Afterwards, guests can have a massage or beauty treatment with Tahitian oils, in overwater villas with glass floors – a window to the turquoise sea below, filled with colourful shoals of fish.
Bathing in sand
The only natural sand bath in the world is at Saraku Sand Bath Hall on Japan’s thermal island of Kyushu. Visitors to the spa receive a kimono robe to dress in, before laying down in the bath hall where an attending therapist covers their body with thermal grains of sand infused with coastal hot spring water, regulating the temperature of the sand bath according to the sand’s depth.
Much like hot spring waters, the thermal sand sweats out the body’s impurities, which allegedly detoxifies the blood, decreases inflammation and refreshes the skin. However, the effects of the sand bath are said to be three to four times greater than from hot spring bathing. A study from Kagoshima University’s medical faculty suggests that sand bathing can cure nerve pains, backaches and even broken bones.
Open-air spa treatments
Whether in response to the pandemic or as an acknowledgement of the stunning landscape that surrounds it, Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas is leading the way in open-air spa experiences. Set in the upper part of Aristi village in northwestern Greece’s Zagori Region, the hotel has panoramic views over the Vikos Gorge, the Towers of Papingo and the Astraka mountain peak. Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas invites its guests to indulge in open-air face or body treatments within the lush green grounds of the sprawling resort.
Breathwork is now widely accepted as a medically and spiritually sound wellness practice – so it was only a matter of time before some unusual incarnations came along (goat yoga, anyone?). The Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort in St Lucia has combined breathwork with scuba diving to create a wholly unique therapeutic experience, as well as its other holistic offerings, like paddleboard yoga (pictured above).
In the underwater breathwork programme, guests take a sunrise dive in the early morning’s tranquil waters. The specialist dive combines Ayurvedic principles with yogic breathing techniques, all the while surrounded by the soothing beauty of the calm underwater environment.
Mental wellness has never been higher on the domestic and international agenda, with people at home and away seeking healing from the emotional and mental trauma of the pandemic. Spas are stepping in to offer post-Covid anxiety resets, with Switzerland leading the sector.
Veteran wellness facility the Chenot Palace Weggis in the Swiss Alps delivers a holistic Recover & Energise programme. It aims to reduce stress, recharge the body’s natural energy and restore its vitality. Detox treatments are combined with clinically proven and patented neuroscience technology, which all encourage the body to restore its natural rhythms, reduce chronic stress and improve restorative sleep.
Take the current influx of ‘immunity boosting’ offerings across the world with a pinch of salt. Experts from the Global Wellness Institute have reported that immuno-stabilisation and immuno-balancing are in fact the way forward, brought on by adopting the core pillars of wellness: diet, enough sleep and exercise.
Spas and wellness centres are following suit with the SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain hosting its SHA Rebalance programme. It helps guests to learn healthy habits around nutrition, exercise, sleep and wellness, via classes, workshops and lectures. The idea is that indoctrinating these practices will help them continue the wellness journey at home, and perhaps improve their physical and mental health in the long term.