Health and wellness isn’t just a trend, it’s a movement and it’s here to stay. Wellness travel is becoming ever more popular and guests are coming to expect their getaways to involve things like yoga classes and clean eating.
The wellness tourism economy is defined as expenditure made by tourists who seek to improve or their well being during or as a result of a trip.
A few stats for you:
Global wellness tourism revenues grew from $494.1 billion in 2013 to $563.2 billion in 2015 – or 14%. This denotes a growth rate more than twice as fast as overall tourism expenditures (6.9%)
World travelers made 691 million wellness trips in 2015, 104.4 million more than in 2013.
Image and statistics via the Global Wellness Institute
While some Caribbean destinations already operate as wellness retreats where the entire experience is focused on fitness, diet, mindfulness, and the environment, travelers who opt for more traditional getaways in the Caribbean are still becoming ever more wellness-minded and expect some health-centered options and considerations other traditional spa treatments.
Here are a few ways for Caribbean hotels, resorts, tour operators, tourist boards, and restaurants to tap into wellness trends for travelers that don’t involve a spa:
1. Like Marriot hotels who have introduced a healthy option upgrade for guests that includes organic mattresses, air purifies, circadian mood lighting, aromatherapy, and vitamin C-infused showers you too could offer a wellness upgrade to guests when checking in or booking their stay. One thing that Marriot isn’t offering that I know I’d love to see more of in ALL hotels is in-room potted plants.
2. Surf-like spinoffs including paddle boards are mainstay at most Caribbean beach resorts now, but if your location has waves nearby (looking at you Dominican Republic, Boston Beach Jamaica, & the northern coast of Martinique!) consider offering surfing lessons and surf retreats. Surfing is one of the fastest growing trends in wellness travel and it’s not just for California boys anymore. All female and family-focused surf retreats and experiences are springing up around the world.
3. Especially if you’re a tourist board, consider a Well-Fest. While ‘wasted’ festivals and carnivals will always be a mainstay for the Caribbean tourism industry, there’s room for wellness too. As an example to look towards is the Wanderlust Festival that moves locations across the globe and includes things like meditation, eco-kayaking, bike tours, hiking, surfing, talks from authors, filmmakers, musicians, and of course health experts. This would be such an amazing way to showcase the beauty of your Caribbean island nation!
4. Incorporate Mezcal into your cocktail menu. This spirit is seeing sales double over the last couple years and its small-batch, rustic origins are making it an appealing option for wellness-minded vacationers who still want to imbibe. Guests are opting for Mezcal as it’s healthier than many spirits out there since it comes from a plant and the production of it has yet to be outsourced giving it an authenticity factor. Mezcal is still produced by hand-mashing agave, roasting it in underground pits, and letting it ferment in the open air.
5. Include a wellness menu at mealtime or denote your existing menu of dishes that are created with organics and/or superfoods. This can be as simple as a few options that include trending food-stuffs like turmeric (which has anti-inflammation properties) and ketogenic diet items that are high-fat and low-sugar (think coconuts & avocado – a pretty easy order for us here in the Caribbean!).
Some wellness initiatives are already taking place in the Caribbean. The Aruba Tourism Authority launched Aloe Wellness Month in 2016 and it is again slated for 2017, Saint Lucia designated November as their adventure & wellness month, and Costa Rica’s Tourist Board is focusing its 2017 PR efforts on the concept of Pura Vida Lifestyle which is all about community, health, and wellness.
Change is clearly underway – don’t miss out on tapping into the wellness travel trend!