Why Wellness Tourism Will Be a Focus After COVID-19 Dissipates

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes | 1425 words

With so many of us spending time at home, it’s inevitable that we slow down and begin to focus on our health and wellbeing. Although these are difficult times for most, it is certainly an opportunity to slow down and reset. Everyone who is obliged to isolate is experiencing a change in gears right now and being forced to pause, there are reasons to believe that this will impact the way that people choose to travel and experience the world when the coronavirus crisis calms down and travel restrictions are lifted.

Analysts believe that there will be a significant shift towards wellness within travel, with people increasingly seeking refuge in nature. Especially after being cooped up within their homes for months on end. We will all awake from this slumber and wish to stretch our bodies, breathe in deeply and explore the outdoors more than ever before. If anything, this time resting inside will give us more of an appreciation for the wilderness and our desire to experience remote destinations will have increased.

The demand for wellness tourism has been rapidly growing since 2013 and in 2018 it was growing more than twice as fast as general tourism. The demand for this is only set to rise after the risk of COVID-19 dissipates.

Many people have wellness routines that they don’t want disrupted when they travel. By simply providing access to workout equipment, pool or even just a yoga mat, your health focused guests will appreciate being able to continue their regular, or somewhat adapted, routine.

“Some changes are predicted in the way people travel and the experiences they seek” says Carolyn Childs, CEO, strategist and futurist at Australia-based tourism research specialist MyTravelResearch. She expects interest in wellness tourism to grow, as well as in holidays that involve nature. She also predicts people will opt for remote destinations rather than traditionally bustling tourist hotspots.

Attracting wellness tourists can greatly benefit your profit margins as you are able to charge more based on the added value that your wellness experiences can provide.

“Wellness travelers spend more per trip than the average tourist, and this holds true for both domestic and international travelers. In 2017, international wellness tourists on average spent $1,528 per trip, 53% more than the typical international tourist. The premium for domestic wellness tourists is even higher, at $609 per trip and 178% more than the typical domestic tourist. This is because wellness travelers are typically more affluent, educated, and well-traveled, and they tend to be early adopters who will try out new and novel experiences.” (Source:Global Wellness Institute)

For those of us with properties for rent, this is the perfect time to position your property as a wellness escape. This might mean highlighting your remote location if you are fortunate enough to be based remotely. Or promoting your pool, spa facilities, yoga studio or gym.

“As wellness travel becomes more mainstream, many hotels are incorporating wellness into their design, amenities, services, and programming. Wellness features may include bedding and lighting that promote better sleep, windows and shades that block out light and noise, in-room fitness equipment and videos, healthy snacks and menus at restaurants, or on-site spas and gyms. Acquisitions, partnerships, and collaborations between hospitality companies and fitness, spa, and other wellness brands are increasingly common. An emerging trend is the adoption of wellness architecture, biophilic design, and sustainability elements into the entire design of the property.” (Source: Global Wellness Institute)

There are many ways in which you can create a wellness space within your accommodation, including providing yoga mats along with access to a yoga, meditation or workout app. You could also provide several playlists for guests to choose from to encourage guests to relax. If you don’t have any spa facilities, you can offer a spa hamper upon arrival full of luxury toiletries and even flowers so that people can enjoy a flower bath. Many people relax when they enjoy the beauty of their surroundings, it also makes your accommodation more likely to be shared via social media if you provide opportunities for people to take beautiful photographs.

Perhaps a wellness picnic hamper full of organic fruits, nuts and cheeses to encourage your guests to enjoy a picnic, whether that be within your home or in the outdoors when the isolation restrictions have lifted. By using a little creativity and seeing how other guesthouses and hotels are doing it, it’s possible to elevate your accommodation into a wellness experience.

Many wellness tourists seek out specific locations depending on which sort of wellness experience they would like to enjoy. So we would encourage you to embrace your local culture, foods and natural assets. The millennial generation in particular are interested in the unique offerings of a location and how they differ from other destinations. 

This map below highlights the diversity of wellness offerings around the world.

Read the full Global Wellness Institute report here.

How to include wellness within your service offering

Below we have included a few examples of a variety wellness experiences that you could offer in the hopes that they will spark some ideas for you.

Spa Experiences

Depending on your location, you could either team up with a local spa or provide certain treatments in-house. From saunas, sweat lodges, mud ceremonies to a variety of massage options.  

It’s worth remembering that luxury wellness often means emotional and mental wellness too, so providing an experience that is good for your guests’ souls is a wonderful way to take care of them and ensure they are able to unwind during their stay.

Floating sauna. Source: Nimmo Bay Resort

Luxury Picnics

Eating outdoors has always been a luxurious treat. Why not create sumptuous organic picnic hampers for your guests to take to the beach, enjoy in their room or take with them on a bicycle ride.

Source: Wild Goat Events

Grand Bathtubs

There’s no feeling better than soaking in a magnificent bath tub to unwind for a good night’s rest. Many guesthouses are opting to provide an outdoor bathtub for their guests to enjoy the view while bathing. Nimmo Bay Resort in the Pacific Northwest have an outdoor tub complete with a fire built underneath to ensure the water stays toasty hot in spite of the chilly air.

Source: The Range Byron Bay

Fitness Classes

If you have the space and a fitness or yoga instructor available, why not offer a group or private class for your guests. The alternative is to provide yoga mats, blocks, bolsters and straps for your guests to be able to follow their own routines. 

Source: Tierra Hotels

Luxury Dining

Everyone’s idea of luxury dining is different. If you have the option, why not hire a chef to cook up a feast outdoors over a crackling fire? Millennials especially are seeking new wholesome experiences, and nothing gets more wholesome than fresh, locally sourced food being cooked from scratch right in front of you. The farm-to-table and sea-to-table movement is growing as more and more people choose to become aware of where their food comes from and to be more in tune with nature. 

Source: Miss Sarah Glover

Provide Exhilaration

Encourage guests to step out of their comfort zones and experience something new. Whether that’s cold water swimming, which has proven health benefits, or freediving which has incredible benefits for your mental strength.

Source: Joanna Shimwell

Give Access to Nature

By simply offering a way for people to further immerse themselves in nature, you are helping your guests to reset and unwind. Depending on your location you might provide kayaks, bicycles, SUPs or a map of local hiking trails. 

Source: Hilvees


There’s no better feeling than returning home from a trip with newfound skills and passions. Encourage your guests to expand their minds through learning. Whether you would like to offer cooking workshops, short massage courses, mushroom foraging, sustainable gardening or even a coffee-making workshop

Source: Andrea Bemis

Get Creative

There’s no better time to release the idea of who we think we are and what we think we can do than on holiday. Unleash your guests’ creative sides by offering courses in a variety of arts, from weaving and painting to pottery or photography. When they take their newly made crafts home with them and display them proudly in their home, they will always be reminded of their stay with you and the new skills they learnt.

Source: Pinot and Picasso

In Summary

People increasingly want to indulge in experiences and learning in order to feel good. Wellness covers all aspects of our lives, from mental to emotional, and of course, physical.

It’s not only your guests who will reap the benefits of your services, because if you can change their lives by introducing them to a new passion or by teaching them new skills, they will be more likely remember you and recommend you to others. 

Unsure of your next step? Get clear on your hotel’s recovery strategy

Gain access to our COVID-19 Hotel Reopening Checklist

As COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely without an effective vaccine, it’s expected that we will have a W shaped recovery with lock downs repeatedly being enforced, relaxed and enforced again over time. Being prepared for this tumultuous recovery will stand you and your hotel in good stead to ride the waves to come.

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