With all matters related to the longevity revolution — in particular how the graying of the population will result in the growth of verticals such as hotel wellness and medical tourism — often it’s best to go back to our roots.
A significant part of the anti-aging, wellbeing and healthy living narrative stems from comparisons of modern, urban, helter-skelter life to that of our ancestral past before the agricultural revolution, when we were all hunter-gatherers spending our days in communal tribes of no more than 150 people. By applying this comparison to a hotel’s design, programming or branding, you can make a property far more welcoming and profitable in its wellness pursuits, and in fact many of these organic or nature-leaning suggestions can be done on a limited budget.
As evidence, we see this ancestral narrative reflected in the prominence of paleo or ketogenic dieting where the theory is that humans are ill-suited to digest most grains, cereals and pulses that were only domesticated within the past several millennia. We see it in cold plunges and ice baths, where the easy explanation is centered around the fact that warm water is uncommon in nature. This philosophy is also a component of mindfulness and meditation, where neurologists have shown the health benefits of quieting the mind that is so often induced into an anxious state by our overstimulated environments.
The point is that as awareness for returning in part to the ways of our ancestors increases and people start to adjust their lifestyles to be attuned to a more primal state, travelers will come to demand then expect their accommodations to evolve in stride.
This particular aspect within the larger trend of hotel wellness should thus be on every brand’s agenda as they look to evolve their product offerings over the decade ahead. In fact, there’s a whole field of study (albeit some would deem it pseudoscience for the moment) emerging related to 'nature therapy' that looks at how specifically being in nature can rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit.
This is not a trend that only well-capitalized resorts can seize upon to guide their next big renovation. The notion that nature knows best has a multitude of wellness applications that any hotel in any category can incorporate without overwhelming capital expenditure.
Yes, some directions and programs are more expensive than others, and of course many will lean heavily into the luxury destination end of the spectrum. Still, this should not preclude managers of economy, select-service or midscale properties— which cater to primarily corporate and group guests — from devising a plan with nature in mind. In fact, incorporating more of these biomimetic elements can be just the ticket to revive a staid product.
Below is hardly an exhaustive list of what’s possible. Instead, it’s inspiration as to the breadth and flexibility of what can work for your brand, your target audience and your budget.
Perhaps you may deem these dozen territories as mere bells and whistles; perhaps there’s a morsel here that can work for your brand. Regardless of your opinion on the growth of hotel wellness, it should be abundantly clear that there are many ways to get involved and creatively incorporate various schools of thought into your next big remodeling or product unveiling. Above all, when in doubt just look back at what our ancestors were accustomed to then proceed from there.
Larry and Adam Mogelonsky are partners at Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice.
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