Mind-Body Balance Defined: The Five Top Wellness Travel Trends of 2019.

Canyon Ranch, Tucson

Celebrating its first-year anniversary, following the release of its first survey on Wellness Vacations, the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) polled its members to discover the top wellness travel trends for 2019.  Five trends emerged and underscored the exponential popularity of wellness travel on a global scale.  Recently, the Global Wellness Institute predicted the wellness tourism sector of the global hospitality industry will reach close to $1 trillion U.S. by 2020.  The following trends validate the results of the WTA’s Wellness Vacation Survey.  

Photo Credit: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

1. Going Solo: This trend corroborates the results of the WTA’s recent Wellness Vacation survey where close to 25% of respondents reported a preference for solo travel.

At Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Davina Bernard, Director of Wellness, says that 50% of their wellness package guests are women traveling solo, a figure that increases to 75% for three- and four-night retreats.  

At Canyon Ranch resorts in Lenox, Massachusetts and Tucson, Arizona, President and COO Thomas Klein says, “Half of our guests are solo travelers, and many of them are seeking an immersive, self-reflective experience.” While the integrative wellness brand historically skews higher with female guests in general, Klein adds there is an increase in solo male travelers, desiring to regain a sense of renewal with a focus on self-care. 

Tammy Petersen,  Founder and President of Retreats Unlimited comments, “Our retreats are mostly luxury, and we are seeing many solo travelers – especially women. They wish to take control of their health and want their journeys to be private and personal.” 

2. Rise In Newcomers

“In 2018, approximately 50% of our guests were new to Pritikin,” says Jennifer Weinberg, Director of Marketing Communications at the Miami wellness retreat.  

Mr. Klein of Canyon Ranch, also said, “New guests make up nearly 50% of our business. We’ve observed this growing trend over the last few years, and it appears to be continuing.”  

Ms. Bernard of the Fairmont, reports, “95% of the people who attend all-inclusive retreats at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise have never attended a wellness retreat before.” 

3. Flexibility Regarding Length of Stays  

Kathleen LeSage, co-owner of the 40-year-old New Life Hiking Spa in Killington, Vermont, says that over the past three years, the number of guests that have stayed longer than two weeks has increased by 90%. “The trend to longer stays,” she says, “prompted us to add the 21-night wellness retreat launched in 2017.” 

“However, Canyon Ranch has seen a decrease in guests’ average length of stay. But,” says Mr. Klein, “they are seeking shorter yet more frequent trips.”

Hilton Head Health

Hilton Head Health senior VP of Sales and Marketing Jessica Brantley says, "While annual visits have been popular for years, guests are now planning out shorter, more frequent trips (two to four times per year) to stay on track, while others are dedicating resources to commit to an 8- to 12-week stay to make a significant and efficient impact on their health."  She has also observed that guests are more structured with their wellness travel plans. “Twenty percent of guests at Hilton Head Health plan their next visits before they leave.” 

4. Mental Health Matters 

Ms. Petersen of Retreats Unlimited says, “This trend might be the most exciting for us.” She is seeing more of her retreat participants totally shut down for a few days. She comments, "They come for the yoga and fitness, but leave with a better sense of their own mental health.”

Ms. Bernard at Fairmont says her wellness guests “might have been searching for ‘yoga retreats’ online, but it is the content around mindfulness and learning how to live their best life is the best part of our retreats.”  

In response to demand from guests for more mindfulness education, Pritikin has added a licensed psychologist to its roster of medical experts. According to Ms.Weinberg, “This will not only increase the availability of one-on-one mental health consultations, but add new lectures, covering strategies to stay on track and prevent reversion to unhealthy habits.”  

Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, Koh Samui

And, at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary in Koh Samui, Thailand, co-founder Karina Stewart is also seeing an increasing number of guests who desire to address their mental health and well-being, along with their physical health. 

5. Demand for Specific Solutions: Consumers are becoming more aware of the value associated with a true wellness vacation, planned with specific goals in mind.

At Kamalaya, Ms. Stewart further explains, “The vast majority of guests come to Kamalaya with a goal in mind, whether it’s clearly defined (e.g. stress, detox or fitness) or less defined such as a need to reset internally (e.g. to address difficult life changes back home, relationship breakup, change of job, or emotional imbalance due to the loss of a loved one.) Many want to re-establish better lifestyle habits, and fulfill the need to reset themselves.”   


At Eupepsia Wellness Center in Bland, Virginia, co-founder Shivani Schneider says solution-based programs are most in demand, in particular the four- to seven-day (and longer) De-stress & Relax retreats, closely followed by Customized Weight Management retreats. She adds that “through personal assessments of each guest, we also became aware that many of them suffer from some type of sleep disorder, which is the direct result of body imbalances. Our programs are specifically tailored to help find solutions by addressing imbalances at their root cause."

Mr. Klein reports that Canyon Ranch is "experiencing a phenomenon where people spanning various demographics and psychographics are increasingly seeking a healthy, vibrant and balanced lifestyle.”  He says that when Canyon Ranch opened 40 years ago, no one knew what wellness meant. Now,  “consumers understand it, value it and, increasingly, expect and demand it everywhere: at home, in the workplace, and on vacation.” 

In all cases, the need and want for great mind/body balance, in terms of wellness, mindfulness, and fitness will allow the appeal of these programs to increase as this year continues.


Learning healthful cooking and eating at Pritikin

New Life Hiking Spa

Hiking at New Life Hiking Spa

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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