6 Wellness Trends To Know Now

The Resort at Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The Resort at Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

From holistic health to digital detox, we've got you covered.

By Nadine Courtney
 
In recent years, the nebulous-sounding field of wellness has become hot– all the best destination resorts offer options. But where a hotel might have previously offered a smattering of extra massages in its spa or added yoga to its fitness menu, the next generation of spa-goers want something much more profound.
 
“There has been quite a shift in what clients look for in wellness travel,” says Kathleen Sutter, a Virtuoso agency owner based in Sarasota, Florida. “It is no longer just massages, yoga, salon treatments, and weight-loss programs, although these are still important options.” A few added classes or amenities no longer cut it. Instead, savvy travelers want to maximize their time away from home with multi-part treatment “journeys,” sessions with world-renowned professionals, and destination courses worth traveling across the globe – all designed to take guests’ quest for wellness to the next level.
 
The ultimate goal? To come away with a clearer sense of self and a more perceptive understanding of your life’s purpose. “Wellness is about finding the experience that will aid you in creating positive change,” explains Victoria Strubbe, a Virtuoso advisor, based in Manhattan Beach, California. Guests don’t just want to treat sore shoulders; they want to change their lives.
 
Keeping this in mind, we found the top wellness trends you need to know now. From holistic health to hygge, we’ve got you covered.

Hygge

Nothing has had a bigger impact on the wellness community recently than the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”). The popularity of hygge, which roughly means “the pursuit of coziness” – think flickering candles, fireside chats with loved ones, woolen socks, and steaming mugs of mulled cider – can be attributed to the fact that everybody, regardless of socioeconomic status, nationality, or political affiliation, needs a little TLC.
 
In wellness travel, this translates into programs designed for connection and simplicity, such as forest walks, classes in reading or writing haiku, watercolor classes, and alpine treks. Pre- and post-treatment relaxation lounges at top spas, meanwhile, provide opportunities for maximum hygge. Here, guests can settle into a recliner with a cozy blanket in a dimly lit room, sipping on freshly brewed herbal tea.
 
Hygge at the world’s top resorts proves that it’s possible to be halfway around the world – challenging yourself, getting out of your comfort zone, experiencing new things – yet still feel completely at home.
 
Conscious Eating

Indulging in delicious food and wine is often part of traveling, but many guests are now looking to eat more cleanly and to make thoughtful food choices based on their individual needs.
 
“Consumers are tired of the word ‘diet,’” Sutter says. “They seek direction for a proper lifestyle. Not just what should not be eaten, but how what you eat affects your body inside and out.” The focus on nutrition is manifested at top resorts with private vegetable garden tours and tastings, or in classes designed to better understand nutritional claims and buzzwords. Cuisine is frequently organic and often sourced on-site or locally, and it’s not unusual to feature lessons from a variety of artisans – from foragers to cheese-makers – alongside classes led by world-famous chefs.  
 
Conscious eating is less about declaring certain foods as bad – such as sugar, butter, and fats – and more about being mindful of where food comes from, how it’s produced, how your body will respond to it, and whether you’re making the best choices for you.
 
Digital Detox

In a world where busy people’s cell phones are practically superglued to their fingers, not returning an email immediately is considered rude, and many folks post their every move on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, putting the phone down, walking away, and fully connecting with your surroundings is the ultimate luxury.
 
“One of the best ways to reduce stress is to break free of your devices and connect to the people you’re with, yourself, and your surroundings,” says Karen Goldberg, managing director of Virtuoso Hotels and Resorts. “A digital detox often results in increased creativity and new perspective. The benefits far outweigh any short-term inconvenience.”
 
Resorts offering a digital detox often ban technology in public areas, and some don’t offer Wi-Fi at all. Other places require guests to surrender their devices upon arrival, returning them only after the program or stay is complete.
 
Draconian though it might seem, the benefits are immediate: Guests sleep better and are more present to participate in the bevy of activities, treatments, and programs on offer – everything from bike rides and yoga to Thai massage, stress management sessions, and time with a life coach to help get to the root of the device addiction.
 
Mindful Meditation

Meditation is practiced around the world, but it has recently reached critical mass stateside, with apps zooming to the top of the Apple App Store best-seller list and pop-up, pop-in studios sprouting across the country to help busy people calm their minds.
 
“In these uncertain times, consumers are looking to reclaim the present,” Sutter explains. “They meditate to experience transformation and find inner strengths.” As a result, resorts are offering a bevy of meditation and mindfulness classes, many with specific focuses, such as chakra meditation to correct emotional imbalances and awaken energy within, or guided sessions with a behavioral therapist.
 
Whatever the individual practice, the benefits of meditation are grounded in scientific fact: A recent study reported that mindfulness meditation provided a cure for pain relief, while devotees report reduced stress, clearer thinking, and diminished anxiety. 
 
High-Tech Wellness

If the word “spa” makes you think of Zen music and frou-frou treatments, you’ve never been to the new breed of high-tech medical wellness facilities. These spas for the serious-minded promise serious results, and are designed to identify and address chronic conditions.
 
Programs are PhD-worthy, including units devoted to stem-cell biotechnology to help treat autoimmune diseases, or full-day medical intakes that incorporate a body composition analysis, blood draw, and metabolic rate test. Vitamin deficiencies, allergies, and food intolerances can be spotted and treated, while more pervasive conditions have a chance to be identified and addressed through a combination of traditional and holistic treatments.
 
For guests suffering from persistent but vague ailments that have eluded diagnosis or treatment, high-tech wellness facilities are the perfect place to drill down and get to the root of what ails you.
 
Equine Therapy

Horses have long been recognized as therapeutic for those working through trauma or emotional issues, and many luxury resorts have turned toward equine therapy programs as a source of creativity and connection.
 
“The ancient Greeks documented the benefits of horse riding as therapy,” says Austin-based advisor Krista Betts. “Animals naturally relax us and give us peace, so it’s no wonder why spas are offering equine therapy as an option.”
 
Programs built around horses – where guests often don’t even ride but instead work alongside the animals – are beneficial for both couples and individuals, and are also popular as team-building exercises. The sessions are designed to facilitate better listening and communication, while also reflecting human behavior and acting as a spiritual mirror (after all, horses are known to be intuitive and to sense emotions). Other popular options include painting classes on the live canvas of the horse, to express emotions and center energy.   
 
Guests report a sense of renewed calm, clarity, and connection following equine therapy – a simple but powerful way to regain a sense of purpose, control, and clarity. 
 
For the full selection of 41 Virtuoso Wellness partners, please contact your travel advisor.

Find your wellness at these select Virtuoso Wellness hotels, resorts, and cruises:
 
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa – Sonoma, CA
Blackberry Farm – Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
The Ranch Malibu – Malibu, CA
Miraval Resort & Spa – Tucson, AZ
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort – Hawaii
Borgo Egnazia – Puglia, Italy
Castel Monastero Resort & Spa – Siena (Tuscany), Italy
Grand Hotel Quellenhof & Spa Suites – Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa Retreat and Cultural Hideaway – Bavaria, Germany
SHA Wellness Clinic – Albir/Valencia region, Spain
Chable Resort and Spa - Chocholá, Mexico
The Resort at Pedregal – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
BodyHoliday Saint Lucia – Caribbean
The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa – Nicaragua
Crystal Cruises – Itineraries offered worldwide. 

7 Expeditions On 7 Continents

By Susan Hanson

A bird’s-eye view of Antarctica. 

A bird’s-eye view of Antarctica. 

Expedition travel comes in many forms. Which is right for you, and where will your wanderlust lead?

Urban Renewal - Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is hot right now, and for good reason. Along with the country’s fjords, ice fields, geysers, and geothermal pools, the capital of Reykjavik is a hip little city with a thriving culinary scene, funky shopping along Laugavegur Street, and year-round festivals, including Yoko Ono’s annual lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower. You’ll find craft shops and museums, cutting-edge street art, and music ranging from symphonies in the honeycombed-glass Harpa concert hall to unplugged folk at Café Rosenberg. With near 24-hour sunlight during the summer, the nightlife (or “jammith,” as the locals call it) never seems to end.

Hit the City: Working with your travel advisor, Virtuoso’s on-site tour provider, Iceland Encounter, can create a customized, seven-day trip featuring glacier treks and visits to Gullfoss waterfall, all bookended by centrally located stays in the capital.
 

Extreme Experience - Tanzania’s Rooftop 

Ever since German geologist Hans Meyer’s first recorded summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 1889, thrill seekers have dreamed of scaling the “roof of Africa.” The continent’s highest peak, in Tanzania, seduces climbers from across the globe, who willingly endure weeks of training and the risk of altitude sickness for bragging rights at 19,341 feet. On the ascent, they get to experience four different climate zones: rain forest, low alpine, high alpine, and glacial.

Rise to the Occasion: The mountain has seven official routes that cater to different fitness levels; an exclusive, ten-day Lemosho climb with Kensington Tours takes a more leisurely yet still invigorating pace to the crown. You’ll be led by a team of professional guides, who set up comfortable camps each night, while a logistics team at the base monitors every step of the journey.

Vineyards on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island.  Photo by ANASTASIARAS/GETTY IMAGES

Vineyards on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island.  Photo by ANASTASIARAS/GETTY IMAGES

Culinary Quest - New Zealand

Sauvignon blanc, which propelled New Zealand onto the international wine scene in the 1980s, now accounts
for 85 percent of the country’s wine exports. Yet New Zealand wine is about so much more than its fruity flagship. There are smallbatch merlots on tiny Waiheke Island across from Auckland, multilayered pinot noirs in Martinborough, and bold, spicy pinot gris from Hawke’s Bay.

Say Cheers: On a 16-day private journey with Swain Destinations, foodies can travel through top terroirs on both the North and South islands, discovering the country’s wines, eclectic dining scene, and epic sights along the way. Bonus: The trip is customizable – you might, say, head east of Wellington for lunch in the Victorian village of Greytown, home to film director James Cameron’s organic store and café. 

Andean artistry at the Otavalo Market. Photo by KSENIYA RAGOZINA/GETTY IMAGES,

Andean artistry at the Otavalo Market. Photo by KSENIYA RAGOZINA/GETTY IMAGES,

Cultural Immersion - Ecuador

Mainland Ecuador is often overlooked by adventure travelers, who simply pass through on their way to the Galápagos. A closer look, however, reveals a mélange of cultures as diverse as the islands’ famous wildlife. While the majority of Ecuador’s population identifies as mestizo, with a mix of indigenous and Spanish ancestry, the country is home to more than a dozen distinct native peoples, including two groups of Afro-Ecuadorians.

Immerse YourselfArtisans of Leisure takes the culturally curious on a private 15-day exploration that visits an indigenous river community during a cruise along the Amazon Basin, as well as local markets and artisan workshops while staying in a historic hacienda in the Otavalo region.

Road Trip: America the Beautiful 

Inland states make up the vast majority of the total land mass of the continental U.S., yet coastal dwellers often dismiss the region as “flyover country” – which is a shame, says Birmingham, Alabama-based Virtuoso travel advisor Beth Flowers. “A
road trip takes you through America’s true heart, for a well-rounded perspective on the diversity of its citizens and the variety of its topography. It’s actually the subtleties of the experience, such as the restaurants and roadside attractions along the way, that capture the flavor of the red, white, and blue.”

Hit the Road: A 23-day guided trip with G Adventures delivers an authentic slice of Americana as you wend your way from San Francisco Bay to Broadway. Small, active groups camp in national parks, see Ansel Adams’ photos come to life on Yosemite treks, party along Bourbon Street, and honor those fallen in war at Arlington National Cemetery.

Buddhist monks amass beside Bodh Gaya’s Mahabodhi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Photo by PRABUDDHARAY/GETTY IMAGES

Buddhist monks amass beside Bodh Gaya’s Mahabodhi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Photo by PRABUDDHARAY/GETTY IMAGES

Inner Journey - India

Buddhists consider Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar to be the holiest place on earth, for it was here that the young Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha while meditating beneath a bodhi tree. Making a pilgrimage to this spot “is perfect for anyone searching for acceptance and happiness,” says Laura Cole, a Virtuoso advisor from Charlotte, North Carolina. “What better way to find yourself than by walking the sacred path to enlightenment?”

Follow Your Bliss: Meditate in Bodh Gaya during Cox & Kings’ private 12-day journey that explores holy sites across India and Nepal that are central to Buddhist culture. Seekers can visit Sarnath, the site where Buddha first preached, and pay homage in his birthplace of Lumbini. Further awakening comes with a morning flightseeing tour of Mount Everest and time wandering through the Boudhanath temple complex, home to some 10,000 Tibetan refuges.

Nature Trek - Antarctica

Antarctica has gone from an exotic ‘someday’ destination to a bucket-list item for many travelers, resulting in an increasing number of cruise-based options and price points,” says Menlo Park, California-based Virtuoso advisor Ken Neibaur. “Your travel advisor can recommend the experience that best suits your stamina, style, and interests.” While the majority of visitors venture only to the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, for a small group of adventurers, crossing the Antarctic Circle – thereby following in the footsteps of the elite group of explorers who first set foot so far south – is the goal. Reaching the icy milestone is well worth the extra distance involved, if only to see the large pods of minke and humpback whales that migrate there during the austral summer months.


Chill OutZegrahm Expeditions sends the 100-passenger Island Sky across the circle on a 14-day voyage. Other boast-worthy highlights: riding a Zodiac past a huge gentoo penguin colony in Neko Harbour and visiting the Ukrainian-operated Vernadsky Research Station.

Wish Fulfilment: Forbes India Interview with Our Founder Steve Sims

Wish Fulfilment: Forbes India Interview with Our Founder Steve Sims

In an interview with Forbes India, our CEO and founder Steve Sims discusses the difference between great and truly exceptional concierge services - and why you should care. 

While concierge services have been around for a while, making life easy for time-strapped individuals, taking care of everything from walking their dogs to picking up their dry cleaning and making arrangements for travellers all over the world, whether it be last-minute restaurant reservations or access to clubs, parties and special events...

10 Travel Packing Tips: How to Achieve Suitcase Success

10 Travel Packing Tips: How to Achieve Suitcase Success

You know the scene. You’re at the airport, and you have to check a bag or print a boarding pass. Somewhere in the check-in area, there will be – there seemingly always is – a family with about 19 massive bags and all kinds of different rolling devices and ways to transport them from A to B. The father and mother typically look annoyed at the pace of service. The kids are using the bags as some kind of base for a game or fort. You just have that one roller for a domestic trip. You wonder how a family can generate so much luggage.

There has to be a more effective system, right?

12 Vital Travel Experiences to Have in the Next Year

12 Vital Travel Experiences to Have in the Next Year

It’s that time of year again. The new year beckons, and with it opportunities for new travel experiences. Where are you going to go and what are you going to do in the year ahead?

Now’s the time to start planning. Taste of Blue has some ideas for you, based on requests we've received from some of our upscale clients. Here are their 12 must-have travel experiences of 2016:

Why You’ll Love Escaping Technology on a Digital Detox Trip

Why You’ll Love Escaping Technology on a Digital Detox Trip

When was the last time you disconnected from your devices? If you can’t remember how long it’s been since you took a break from your smartphone, tablet and computer, you’re likely in need of a digital detox trip.

We live our lives immersed in a digital world. The Pew Research Center says 73 percent of us are online daily. One in five people admits to being online “almost constantly.” And a U.K. study found people spend almost three hours a day online.

10 Tips and Tricks for Actually Sleeping on a Plane

10 Tips and Tricks for Actually Sleeping on a Plane

Sleeping on a plane may be one of the toughest challenges you ever face. But it’s an important one to conquer. A long flight without rest can mean exhaustion for days once you arrive at your destination. That’s on top of the jet lag you’ll be dealing with as well.

Follow the below tips for a better chance of getting some Z’s while in the air.

7 Big Trends in Wellness Tourism to Experience Now

7 Big Trends in Wellness Tourism to Experience Now

Simply put, wellness tourism is hot.

The rapidly growing travel niche is expected to hit $680 billion by next year, according to the Global Wellness Summit. It’s expanding 50 percent faster than the overall tourism industry.

Travelers take a whopping 586 million wellness trips each year. In fact, the wellness tourism niche encompasses 15 percent of global travel. That’s second only to cultural tourism. It is also lucrative, as wellness travelers spend 130 percent more than the average traveler. The 2016 Virtuoso Luxe Report identified the most sought-after wellness aspects as massages and other treatments, healthy cuisine, fitness classes, environmental beauty, and sports activities.