Forget beach parties and all-night clubbing: Wealthy travellers are spending money differently, and it's created a massive $639 billion industry

Amanera/FacebookWealthy travellers are turning ‘wellness tourism’ into a $US639 billion industry.

As the wellness industry continues its explosive growth, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s now expanding into another huge industry: tourism.

Wealthy travellers are ditching the beach parties and all-night clubbing and instead spending their money on wellness summits, spirituality retreats, and resorts that focus on self-care, which has turned “wellness tourism” into a $US639 billion industry, according to the 2018 Global Wellness Tourism Economy study.

While yoga retreats are nothing new, the growth of the wellness-tourism industry has been skyrocketing in recent years, with the industry expected to be worth $US919 billion by 2022. There’s now even a Wellness Tourism Association that was launched in January 2018 by a group of wellness-industry executives.

Travellers are paying $US1,400 per night to stay at resorts with on-site therapists and shelling out more than $US5,000 for weekend ‘wellness summits’

Sarah Casewit, a cofounder of Naya Traveller, which specialises in custom itineraries, recently told CNN that the company has received “a spike in travel requests that are spearheaded by a keen interest in wellness and spirituality.”

These wellness itineraries may come in the form of on-site therapists, personal trainers, and wellness practitioners, such as those offered at Chiva-Som, a celebrity-favourite wellness retreat in Thailand. A stay at Chiva-Som starts at about $US1,400 per night, and the resort requires a minimum three-night stay.

And then there are the pricey “wellness summits,” where travellers can mingle with celebrities at wellness workshops and self-care stations.

Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the most public faces of the wellness movement in the US, held her first wellness summit with her lifestyle brand, Goop, in 2017, and has since put them on in Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver, Canada, Business Insider UK’s Rachel Hosie reported.

Goop wellness summitPhillip Faraone/Getty Images for goopA sound-bath event at the Goop wellness summit in Los Angeles in May 2019.

The company’s first wellness summit in London in June 2019 will include “issue-focused talks” with leading doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and celebrities, as well as “wellness workshops” for energy, the body, and beauty; “self-care stations”; a wellness boutique; an athleisure shop; and a “clean beauty apothecary.”

A one-day ticket costs £1,000($US1,280) – and that doesn’t include airfare or lodging. Attending the whole summit will cost you £4,500 ($US5,760), which includes a stay in the Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel.

Hotels are embracing travellers’ changing tastes by offering ‘wellness rooms,’ energy treatments, and guided meditation

Hotels, too, are moving way beyond the simple fitness centres of the past.

Take Amanera, a luxury resort by Aman Resorts in the Dominican Republic, which recently started offering a “Surf + Sun” program that includes energy treatments, yoga, healthy snacks, and guided meditation. A night at Amanera will cost you about $US1,650.

And in Washington, DC, the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown recently gave guests the option of booking one of 13 “Wellness Rooms” that come with aromatherapy bath salts, shower heads emitting vitamin C-infused water, desk wellness balls, yoga mats, sound and sleep machines, air purifiers, sleeping masks and earbuds, and noise-cancelling machines.

The wellness rooms are situated on the same level as the hotel’s fitness center and spa, which includes a relaxation room, a steam room, and sauna. A room at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown starts at about $US368 in July, while the wellness rooms start at $US417.

Wellness travellers are willing to shell out more money than regular vacationers

While the $US5,000-plus price tag of Paltrow’s Goop summit may be a bit higher than the norm, “wellness travellers are very high-spending, high-yield tourists,” according to the Global Wellness Institute.

In 2017, international wellness travellers spent an average of $US1,528 per trip – 58% more than the average international tourist. And domestically, wellness travellers on average spent $US609 per trip, or about 178% more than the average domestic tourist.

Do you have a wellness-tourism experience to share? Email the reporter at [email protected]

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