6 Wellness Trends for 2018

Wellness travel might have once been a niche trend but the ever-growing popularity of hotel programs, retreats, and specialists make it clear: The category is here to stay. “The wellness travel sector continues to grow at a rapid pace,” says Martha Good, an Austin-based Virtuoso advisor. “People’s daily lives are consumed by emails, text messages, social media, and the strain of juggling work and personal responsibilities, leaving little time to focus on their well-being. They want a trip that allows them to return home feeling fresh, rested, and rejuvenated. Many trips are now centered around spiritual, emotional, or physical well-being.”

The best retreats work with guests to identify issues unique to them: after all, personalized treatments are more likely to equal satisfied clients. “A wellness vacation is one of the most personal trips someone will take, because it is often an inward journey to enrich their lives,” says Pittsburgh-based Virtuoso advisor Judith Austin. “If the visit is focused on a specific need or interest, it will create a deeper, more meaningful visit. Travelers want experiences they can carry with them when they return home to their daily routine.”

Based on intel from our Virtuoso partners, here are the top trends we spotted for 2018.

Visiting Masters

Many destinations offer guests an opportunity to learn from top-of-their-field gurus—visiting chefs, athletes, healers, teachers, doctors, and even Buddhist monks—who fly in to guide travelers toward spiritual healing, healthier habits, and elevated skills. Sessions run the gamut from sleep training with world-famous CEOS to food prep with Michelin-star chefs.

“The educational component of wellness travel is very important to my clients,” Good says. “They want to learn about healthy lifestyle options and then take that knowledge home and incorporate it into their everyday lives.”

Sugar Detox

In the 80s, it was fat; in the 90s, it was carbs. Now, it seems the food devil to be avoided at all costs is sugar. High-end spa and wellness resorts offer sugar-free detox diets, where the purge delivers on a promise of clearer skin, a more efficient digestive system, and increased energy. (Bonus: it may result in weight loss, too.)

Sugar-free diets are high in fat and protein, designed to leave guests sated despite the restrictions. To complement the nutrition component, programs include a bevy of activities like yoga, meditation, acupuncture, energy healing, and massages, making it easy (enough) to forget that you can’t have a slice of cake for dessert.

Grief Retreats

With age comes maturity, wisdom, financial security … and all too frequently, a reminder of mortality as loved ones begin passing away. Enter the grief getaway: a journey to find solace and healing.

“I find my clients asking for a spa vacation when they’ve just experienced the loss of a family member or a tragic event in their life,” says Lynne Adams, a Virtuoso advisor based in Naples, Florida. “They need that week away to regenerate because day-to-day life can be so stressful.” Not all are mourning literal loss, but maybe a life change, such as a divorce or an empty nest when the last kid goes off to college. “Either way, they deserve this getaway,” says Austin. “They are entrusting you to recommend the perfect place.”

Medical Testing

Gone are the days of spas garnering praise for mere stress-relief and relaxation benefits. Now, a hard-science medical component is en vogue. “Many clients are dealing with a serious health issue,” says Austin. “Others have a specific focus, such as weight loss or wanting to make a lifestyle change.” In these cases, medically enhanced facilities focusing on genetics testing and biometrics might be the right fit.

At these centers – equal parts relaxing and regenerative – highly-trained specialists run a battery of tests to determine not just what ails you, but also how elusive issues might be specifically treated. One-size-fits-all offerings are passé; after identifying the best course of action, facilities offer a personalized program – frequently including customized diets based on DNA and blood type.

Sleep Therapy and Sleep Recovery

Sleep deprivation has been linked to myriad medical issues, ranging from heightened stress to weight gain to depression and a weakened immune system. As a result, certain facilities offer programs specifically designed to improve the quality of zzz’s. The goal: By bettering the quality and duration of your sleep, you’ll improve your entire life.

Programs might focus on internal coping mechanisms through stress management, or external improvements through fitness programs such as yoga. Most will frequently include massage and meditation, too. And clients can expect a thorough run-down examining underlying causes. “Similar to the initial client consult, a questionnaire will uncover what’s most important and what needs to be achieved,” Austin says. “It will reveal a personal and often intimate reason for treatment.”


In this era of constant communication, shutting out (and off) the cacophony of incessant chatter might be the biggest luxury of all. Where digital detoxes have long been a popular trend, 2018 goes one step further: Silence is golden.

At these properties, merely logging off Twitter or not Instagramming a meal isn’t enough. Here, clients find blissful peace while checking into guestrooms with wi-fi blockers, enjoying blindfolded floating massages to mute multiple senses, and taking part in quiet mindfulness sessions and meditative forest walks. “It’s about slowing down and engaging all of your senses,” explains Austin. “Don’t hesitate to tell spa therapists at the beginning of appointments if you prefer silence and want full immersion.” And while it goes without saying, we’ll say it anyway: In common spaces, no cell phones allowed.

Posted in 'Travel News' on Friday 02 February 2018