There was a time when a spa vacation was as much about cocktails around the pool as it was about health and wellness. Today that’s far from the case, with resorts introducing ever more innovative offerings to meet the demand for serious health and fitness programming. In fact, as of 2017, wellness tourism had become a $680 billion market, with spas and resorts around the globe expanding facilities and introducing a wealth of new options for the health-conscious traveler. Here are some of the most forward-thinking trends.
Perhaps the closest most of us will ever come to the gravity-defying experience of outer space, flotation therapy allows you to be essentially weightless, held up by the buoyancy of salt-saturated water.
Today’s flotation therapy sessions have come a long way from the sensory deprivation tanks first developed by neuroscientist John C. Lilly in the mid-1950s. State-of-the-art float pods such as those introduced this year at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort’s Remede Spa in Mexico are rigged with a multitude of soothing sound and light choices to personalize your experience. The end goal: a meditative state that can leave you feeling as if you escaped the constraints of time and space, for an hour at least.
The popularity of wellness retreats like The Ranch at the Four Seasons Westlake Village continues to surge, with participants checking themselves into week-long and four-day intensive programs of fitness, relaxation, and healthy eating. And it’s not just yoga classes and calorie-conscious meals, they’re interested in, but education and coaching on lifestyle changes they can take home with them. Now many spa resorts are introducing wellness packages for those visiting for a weekend or even for a day featuring nutrition, weight loss, and fitness consultation and specialized programs around aging, stress, and specific health conditions.
From salt caves to crystal healing, detoxification techniques are drawn from traditional healing methods around the world. At the Mandarin Oriental New York, a three-hour package called the Clearing Factor includes a cupping massage designed to stimulate the lymphatic system. And Scottsdale’s Copperwynd Club offers the Akara Detox which focuses on organic meal planning, nutrition coaching and specialized yoga and exercise.
The bathing rituals of the Ottoman Empire have made a comeback, with hammam spas opening at luxury resorts in the U.S. and abroad. One example is the Sahra Spa and Hammam at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, which features the traditional steam room, marble slab, and hot and cold baths. Detox and relaxation are the dual goals here, with the ritual steaming, scrubbing and brushing techniques designed to rid the body of both toxins and stress.
Outdoor spa treatments abound, but forest bathing takes the concept several steps further, with the entire treatment regimen taking place under the sky – or stars. Derived from a Japanese tradition known as Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing at resorts like L’Auberge de Sedona includes walks in the woods and outdoor meditation and yoga sessions in addition to open-sky soaks.