Over 500+ wellness experts from 46 nations gathered to debate the future of wellness and its emerging trends at the recent Global Wellness Summit (GWS) in Kitzbühel, Austria. Experts and leaders from the travel, spa, beauty, fitness, nutrition, technology, medical and architecture worlds helped to create a forecast for the $3.7 trillion industry in 2017, including areas of innovation, and in other areas, a reinvention of ancient spa techniques.
“No other trends report is based on the perspectives of so many wellness experts, whether leading economists or futurists or the heads of hospitality, spa and beauty brands,” said Susie Ellis, GWS chairman & CEO. “And it makes for a powerfully collective, global and informed set of predictions.” Here are the 8 biggest trends:
This 2,000-year-old tradition will receive many makeovers this coming year, featuring everything from pop-up saunas in wilderness settings such as forests and lakes to social saunas where people can gather en-masse, to trendy urban “sweat lodges” in cities like New York.
“Starchitects” creating monuments to their egos will give way to "living" buildings that improve the health of the humans within; buildings that grow their own energy, offer improved indoor air quality or healing acoustics.
The Sound of Silence
With phones everywhere and some now being made without headphone jacks, sound is inescapable. Peaceful silence is becoming increasingly rare and desired. The first completely “Silent Spa” (with stunning church-inspired architecture) just opened at Austria’s Therme Laa Hotel. “Wellness monasteries” are on the rise: retreats modeled on ancient sacred spaces, like Italy’s soulful Eremito, with no WiFi/phone signal and silent, candlelit dinners.
Art & Creativity Take Center Stage
At Germany’s famed spa resort, Schloss Elmau, musicians and writers “play-to-stay,” making possible 200+ concerts a year. At the UK’s new Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel you can unwind to live classical violin while taking the waters. How about a painting class under the stars? All of the arts can contribute to a feeling of wellness.
Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep
From ingestible beauty-boosters to clean, organic cosmetics, the “beauty comes from within” concept will keep gaining on topical models. Preventative approaches will surpass the preoccupation with cosmetic maintenance and repair.
Focus On Mental Wellness
Depression and anxiety are on the ride and by 2030 will be the #1 health issue, outranking obesity (WHO). “Healthy mind” will be as important as healthy body, even in the spa industry. Wellness retreats and spas are adding neuroscientists and psychotherapists, and meditation is being offered more widely.
Embracing the C-Word
Wellness companies and spas are finally being trained to deliver comfort (and dignity) to cancer sufferers. From ESPA’s “Nurture and Support” program to Natura Bissé’s “oncological aesthetics” to Two Bunch Palms’ “Mindful Touch Massage”, wellness practitioners are finally opening their hearts and healing practices to cancer patients.
Wellness For Everyone
Spa treatments are often associated with rich elites but this is changing, not only becoming more affordable but also giving back via charity initiatives such as “Yoga Gives Back,” which helps poor women in India. “Wellness Tourism 2.0” will hep support small towns with struggling economies, benefiting tourists and locals alike.