From DNA profiling to death contemplation retreats, Paul Joseph, founder of Health and Fitness Travel, reveals seven emerging wellness travel trends for the new decade.

1. Nature immersion

Karkloof Safari waterfallWe all know getting outdoors is good for us but how many of us actually go spend time in nature daily? Paracelsus, the 16th-century physician, wrote: ‘The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician,’ and this is of particularly true in the age of the iPad and Netflix.

We live 24/7 in a world of likes, stories, followers and tweets, and there is an ever-increasing disassociation with our natural surroundings, which can leave us physically and emotionally deficit.

Most people live in urban environments too, which also play a part in our disconnectedness. As well as forest bathing, going on safari can really help people feel more grounded – Karkloof in South Africa is a good option.

2. Sleep retreats

Man sleepingA rising number of people suffer from sleep problems due to stress and over-work. The result is a ‘transient desynchronisation’ of the circadian rhythms that regulate rest – think of the birds who sing all night because of electric lights.

Chronic poor-quality sleep affects performance, slows reaction times and recovery rates from injury, as well as impairing judgement. Next year, specialist sleep retreats will be offering programmes to get you back on track. These include: Grand Resort Bad Ragaz Sleep, Six Senses Douro Valley Yogic Sleep, Kamalaya in Thaiiland and Shanti Maurice Shanti Sleep

3. Sound healing

Tibetan singing bowlsIn Western culture, music is more associated with entertainment than therapy. However, many cultures – from the Ancient Greeks to the Mayans and Egyptians – have used sound for healing and personal transformation.

Sound is composed of vibrating particles of energy and the tones of instruments such as Tibetan singing bowls, for example, can help harmonise the brain and nervous system. Next year, we will see people travelling to places such as Joshua Tree in California, where they can experience ‘sound baths’ at the Integratron.

4. Male mindcamps

Man meditating on surf boardOver the past few years, there has been a big increase in men aged 45 to 70 booking wellness travel trips, showing the modern male is investing in their health more more than ever. Here are two retreats that offer wellness packages specifically for men: SHA Wellness Clinic Healthy Ageing Men and Absolute Sanctuary Men’s Vitality.

Previously, most wellness resorts only targeted women but next year there will be an increase in male-focused programmes with an emphasis on mental health.

This is in response to the fact that 12.5 per cent of men in the UK suffer from a common mental health disorders such as depression and, sadly, suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 49 (partly due to them being unable to talk about their issues).

5. Wellness sabbaticals

Zighy Pool Villa Suite Beach FrontMost of us are familiar with what a wellness retreat entails – we spend a week in beautiful surroundings being tended to by holistic therapists, eating nutrient-dense food and practising yoga with limited technology usage. However, usually we go back to our old habits when we get home.

In light of this, a new trend is emerging whereby people instead embark on a longer-term wellness programme while continuing to work. The idea is that this will enable them to fully embrace changes to their lifestyle when they return to their normal routine. Programmes for next year include the 30- or 60-day Absolute Sanctuary Lifestyle Change and the 28-day SHA Wellness Life Reset.

6. Genetic profiling

DNA swabMost of us feel overwhelmed by diets that are supposed to be better for us – paleo, keto, vegan, dairy-free – but what is really right for us an individuals? In 2020 there will be an increase in wellness programmes that incorporate genetic testing to eradicate the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to self-improvement.

With just a simple saliva sample, a DNA test can reveal what foods we should and shouldn’t eat, and what kind of exercise we should be doing (some people are built for long-distance running, while others will respond better to weight training). These wellness travel retreats offer plenty of other medical checks too: BodyHoliday BodyScience and Kurotel Longevity Medical Centre & Spa.

7. Death contemplation

Woman's hands in prayer at Buddhist shrine in BangkokDeath is still a taboo in the West and we don’t handle dying or bereavement in a public, positive way. A better death is becoming a desirable end to a well-lived life. Even funerals are being reimagined for the modern age by trendy companies such as Exit Here.

With the bombardment of messages and marketing around Better Ageing and the Stay-Young industry, let us not forget the importance of mental health and supporting both ourselves and others in light of the inevitable.

With the rise of a ‘Death Positive’ movement, which incorporates not just longevity practices, but how we can better mourn and memorialise loved ones and exploring spirituality, we can expect a rise in death meditation retreats such as “Embracing change” at Kamalaya in Thailand.

They aren’t meant to be scary, but rather a way to becoming in the realm of acceptance, which in turn steers us towards living in the present, fully and wisely.

2020 trend reports available to download now – HERE

Globetrender Gen Z Horizons 2020 report





Globetrender 2020 Travel Trend Forecast