Did you know that now, more than ever, we are taking less holidays? The prevalence of the ‘all work and no play’ mentality is making us burnt out and in great need of rejuvenation. No wonder travellers are intentionally seeking to include wellness activities into their holiday and business travel.
As stated in a 2014 report by Spafinder, the travel and tourism economy is worth a huge $6.6 trillion, whilst the wellness industry is worth $2 trillion. The extremely profitable intersection of these two industries, Wellness Tourism, is already a $439 billion market and it’s growing fast. Hotels and airports are quickly jumping on this trend by offering wellness initiatives, including yoga programs, that meet the needs of these consumers, beyond the typical spa and gym offered everywhere.
Business travel, in particular, has typically been considered a challenge when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, yet now, wellness has become less of a luxury and more of a key part of modern day travel. Businessmen and women are turning to yoga as an essential way of managing the effects of their busy travel schedules. Not only does it ward off the aches and pains caused by long hours sat on a plane, but it helps them to deal with the homesickness and melancholy cause by being apart from their family, plus it keeps them centred, enabling them to focus better.
More and more airports, all over the world, are recognising the needs of their travellers to blow off some steam whilst they wait for their flight, so they are expanding their offerings from the usual shopping and dining experience to what travellers really need: more rest, relaxation and exercise.
London’s Gatwick Airport recently launched their ‘Floga Lounge;’ a yoga room inspired by San Francisco International Airport’s yoga program. This room is free to use and is the first of it’s kind in a UK airport. It features a 20 minute video by celebrity yoga teacher, Shona Virtue, which is played on loop, meaning that you can drop in at any time.
The video is short and aimed at beginners, so that anyone in need of a stretch and de-stress can join in. The routine targets the digestive and circulatory systems, both of which are negatively affected by long-haul flights, so that travellers can feel much better when they get off the plane. Not only that, but the mindful, breath-focused aspect of yoga calms the mind – perfect for anxious travellers.
But the yoga offerings don’t simply remain on the ground; Qatar Airways have introduced an in-flight yoga program in partnership with wellness advocate, Deepak Chopra, called ‘Fly Healthy, Fly Fit.’ The booklets can be found in every seat back pocket on long haul flights and was developed to keep travellers feeling well throughout the flight. Trend reports suggest that this will be the first of many airlines offering this kind of service – maybe even a full-blown wellness airline?
With wellness tourists spending approximately 130% more than other tourists, hotels are keen to take advantage of travellers seeking out a healthy holiday.
In fact, many hotels are making wellness initiatives a core part of their marketing strategy, by partnering up with well-known yoga teachers and fitness instructors to develop programs and services that target this demographic. Tara Stiles, an American yoga teacher, is famously in partnership with W Hotel, where she has developed an exclusive in-room yoga workout video and holds regular luxury yoga retreats in W hotels all over the world.
They are not the only ones to do so; several hotels have started hosting yoga retreats, amongst other fitness activities, to expand their service offerings. Additionally, they have become extra creative with the kinds of classes they hold: Aqua Yoga with Dolphins, anyone?
rahese wellness programs are effective, because they appeal to those who wish to make the most of their holiday by developing their mind and body. These might be people who wish to continue the wellness routines they have at home whilst they are on holiday, or they might be people who are normally too busy to allow themselves the luxury of self-care on this kind of level. Either way, by the end of their stay, they are refreshed, stress-free and ready to face the world.
Now, what does this mean for yogis?
For a start, your holiday wishlist has probably grown!
But in all seriousness: whilst the idea of large corporations monetizing something beautiful like yoga can feel a little sketchy, particularly on this kind of scale, I truly believe that yoga for the masses is a good thing.
If you regularly practice yoga, you will have experienced the life-changing effects it can have on your body and mind. By making yoga programs widely available to travellers, whether in airports or hotels, it gives busy minds the opportunity to quieten and weary bodies the time to rest. Anything that encourages us to look after ourselves and live in a more balanced, mindful manner is great news to me.