The global wellness industry is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2020, estimates the Miami-based Global Wellness Institute, and a number of resorts are expanding the concept way beyond the confines of the spa. These properties are opening holistic treatment centers and hiring doctors and fitness experts to staff them. They are tapping into Eastern and Asian traditional rituals to create wellness programs, and offering personal mental health, physical and wellness profiles to help guests achieve a balanced lifestyle. One hotel even wants you to learn to cook and bake responsibly.
Here's a closer look at 10 resorts in the U.S. that have taken the concept of wellness travel -- and wellness-minded meetings -- to a whole new level.
Canyon Point, Utah
In America's great Southwest, tucked away in a protected valley among dramatic canyons and flat-topped mesas, the 34-room Amangiri is the second U.S. resort for Singapore-based Aman hotel group (the Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyo., was the first). It may as well be located on its own planet, though. The hotel lies within the Grand Circle, which includes the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Monument Valley, and required an act of Congress before it could be built. With a minimalist design that seamlessly blends with the surrounding rock formations, the resort's wellness offerings draw on the sheer power of nature.
All of the treatments offered at the 25,000-square-foot spa -- which features outdoor pavilions and terraces -- are inspired by traditional Navajo healing traditions and begin with a sage-smudging ceremony to clear away all negative energy.
Aside from the scrubs, wraps and flotation therapy, guests can explore their surroundings with guided hikes, rock climbing, early-morning hot-air ballooning, horseback riding through the canyons and kayaking on nearby Lake Powell.
The rich, cultural heritage of the local Navajo is celebrated through storytelling, ritual dances and guided tours of Monument Valley.
This resort, which opened in 1979 in the Santa Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson, is the flagship property for a brand that sparked a health and wellness movement in the hospitality industry. Canyon Ranch's on-site medical team of physicians, registered nurses and specialists at its Life Enhancement Center work together to create a wellness assessment and workup for each guest. Whether you're tackling weight loss, stress or some other issue, come with your personal health history and be prepared to meet with experts in the fields of exercise physiology, nutrition, life management and spiritual well being, to name just a few of the disciplines covered here.
The 167-room ranch sources only pesticide-free, non-GMO produce, humanely raised hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, and sustainably caught or raised seafood. All ingredients used at the property are free of additives, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, sweeteners and unhealthy fats. While the property doesn't serve alcohol, guests are free to bring their own libations to consume in their rooms.
A New Group Aims to Promote Healthy Travel
Wellness tourism has become such big business that, this past January, a group of like-minded hospitality executives created the Wellness Tourism Association
, a privately held nonprofit based in Denver.
"Our mission is clear and concise," says Andrew Gibson, vice president, well being, at Paris-based AccorHotels
and the co-founder and chairman of the new association. "We plan to support and further the growth and development of the wellness tourism industry, through networking, education, communication and marketing."
Just how large is the wellness economy? The Miami-based Global Wellness Institute
estimates that in 2015, wellness tourism accounted for $563 billion of the $3.7 trillion global wellness economy, which is growing faster than the tourism industry. At its upcoming Global Wellness Summit, scheduled to be held in October in Cesena, Italy, a spokesperson for the GWI says new research will be released that should push those numbers beyond the $4 trillion mark.
"The WTA will fill a gap in this global hotel industry by providing a credible and unified voice," says Thomas Klein, president and chief operating officer of Canyon Ranch
and another co-founder of the new association. Canyon Ranch, itself a pioneer in the wellness industry, now has three resorts and has expanded into the cruise industry.
CARILLON MIAMI WELLNESS RESORT
A 70,000-square-foot spa is the heart of the wellness center at this luxury Miami Beach resort. The 150-suite resort's wellness program, headed by Dr. Adonis Maiquiez, takes a complete personal lifestyle approach. Private sessions on acupuncture, emotional and environmental health, as well as nutrition, physiology and spiritual healing are just some of the offerings provided by Maiquiez's team of medical experts.
Guests can take a bone-density test or metabolic-exercise assessment, choose from more than 200 fitness classes -- from ballet to boxing -- or climb a two-story indoor rock wall.
On the meetings front, part of a multimillion-dollar renovation that wrapped up last December is the new 3,500-square-foot Atlantic Room with cutting-edge technology such as intelligent lighting and built-in sound, all part of the resort's total 15,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
LAKE AUSTIN SPA RESORT
Guided forest hikes, refreshing lake swims, paddleboard yoga and tai chi classes are just some of the outdoor activities offered at this all-inclusive wellness sanctuary tucked away in Texas Hill Country. Astronomy, aromatherapy and meditation are among the workshops offered, but personal sessions on specific health issues such as yoga for asthma and allergies, attaining the perfect posture and achieving one's personal life goals also can be arranged.
The 40-room resort's 25,000-square-foot spa -- which placed sixth on Condé Nast Traveler's 15 Best Wellness Retreats in the World list in 2017 -- offers more than 100 treatments. Among specialties are acupuncture and traditional Japanese healing techniques such as Manaka, where therapists tap acupressure points with a wooden hammer and peg.
This 16-suite all-inclusive resort and spa is comprised of a string of individual adobe casitas set within the dramatic red-rock backdrop of Boynton Canyon. More than 100 activities are available -- and not all require physical fitness. If scaling 10,000-foot-high canyon walls doesn't appeal, perhaps Juicing 101, chanting lessons or stargazing will.
The resort's team of wellness experts offers consultations on women's health, sleep, nutrition, the Ayurvedic lifestyle and Reiki healing. For those who lean more to the spiritual side of things, alternative options include tarot-card readings, personal astrology, breathing exercises, meditation and hypnosis.
Frequent travelers can learn the resort's road-warrior workout, a set of exercises that be performed while in transit, sans gym equipment or weights.
MIRAVAL ARIZONA RESORT & SPA
In February of this year, U.K.-based World Spa + Wellness magazine named Miraval Resort Spa of the Year for North and South America. Two months later, this 400-acre, 146-room property in the shade of Tucson's Santa Catalina Mountains unveiled the Retreat, a 22-villa enclave of one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, for those who want to dwell in wellness.
Miraval's more than 120 health-oriented offerings run the gamut from outdoor activities such as hiking, zip-lining, cycling, tennis and equine experiences to the more traditional disciplines such as yoga and Pilates. A team of specialists offers sessions on authentic communication, brain health and managing pain, as well as various forms of therapeutic art.
For those with a culinary bent, the resort offers "conscious" cooking and baking classes that emphasize cutting calories, as well as the opportunity to spend some time with a local farmer, who provides fresh eggs and produce to the property. Guests can even get up close with the on-site bee colony.
The resort's 30,00-square foot Life in Balance Spa features 23 indoor and six outdoor treatment rooms, two Naga Thai studios and an Aqua Zen pool.
NEMACOLIN WOODLANDS RESORT
This family-owned, 320-room property in western Pennsylvania wasn't always focused on wellness. But that all changed in 2014, when the resort turned a previous building used for conferences into the Holistic Healing Center -- and tapped into a whole new market. The center, which focuses on integrative methods designed to achieve life balance and wellness, has an impressive team of doctors and experts, including an exercise physiologist, a licensed acupuncturist, a life coach, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a psychologist. The menu include meditation classes, stress-relief therapy, nutrition workshops and even metabolism testing.
Guest Room as Sleep Sanctuary
As many bleary-eyed Americans can attest, the lack of restful sleep has been deemed a public health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
. In response, some hotels have been addressing the issue.
In 2012, the MGM Grand
in Las Vegas teamed up with New York City-based wellness innovator Delos and designer Jeffrey Beers to launch its first 41 Stay Well rooms
, featuring air and water purification systems, aromatherapy, a vitamin C-infused shower and more. The demand proved so positive that MGM Grand in the years since has expanded its Stay Well room count to 507.Marriott International
has introduced its own Stay Well rooms at six properties, including the Charlotte Marriott City Center
and the Atlanta Marriott Marquis
. And in May of this year, Parsippany, N.J.-based Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
became the latest lodging company to roll out Stay Well rooms, to be added across the brand's U.S. portfolio by year's end.
"Travel is stressful on the mind and body, making the hotel room -- where we spend the most time during our travels -- a critical environment for our well being," notes Dr. Deepak Chopra, founder of the Chopra Foundation
and a Delos Advisory Board member. "By making wellness a priority in the makeup of every Wyndham hotel, the Stay Well experience is changing the way we travel -- for the better."
More vigorous activities on the 2,000-acre property range from zip-lining and fly-fishing to off-road driving and rafting, not to mention 36 holes of championship golf. The Woodlands Spa features 40 treatment rooms, a heated lap pool, men's and women's whirlpools, eucalyptus steam rooms and dry sauna areas. For serious serenity, simply take a leisurely stroll among the resort's organic gardens.
RANCHO VALENCIA RESORT & SPA
This Relais & Châteaux member has earned a very long list of accolades. Both the 49-suite hotel and its spa landed on Forbes Travel Guide's 2018 Star Award Winners, a roster of the world's best hotels, restaurants and spas. The resort's Wellness Collective program was named Best New Wellness Program of 2017 in Organic Spa magazine's Top 10 Organic Spa Awards honors, and Tennis Magazine ranked it No. 2. on its Top 25 Tennis Resorts list for 2018 (two new red-clay courts were added this year).
Set on 45 acres of lush gardens and olive groves, this Mediterranean-inspired property completed a $30 million renovation in 2013, which included a remodeling of its 1,600 square feet of meeting space and major enhancements to its 10-treatment-room spa, along with the addition of fireplaces, rain showers and private patios in each guest room and a new 1,000-square-foot Balinese-inspired yoga pavilion, which is partially outdoors.
Led by Dr. E. Lee Rice, founder of the Lifewellness Institute, also in San Diego, the resort's Wellness Collective lets guests take part in a customized integrative program based on the science of epigenetics -- the study of genes.
RED MOUNTAIN RESORT
St. George, Utah
The views from this 106-room resort, which sits at the entrance of Snow Canyon State Park, take in Utah's striking red-rock canyons, 55 acres of black-lava gardens and myriad mesquite plants, which makes for some memorable hiking or biking opportunities, as suggested by the property's "adventure concierge."
The on-site Sagestone Spa & Salon, which has garnered awards from just about every travel and wellness publication around, has 14 treatment rooms and offers more than 60 treatments using its own custom-blended, indigenous desert botanicals, local honey and mineral-rich muds, clays and salts.
The resort's wellness workshops and consultations are comprehensive. Consider a posture assessment, a shaman-led energy-healing session or a tai chi class held on the beautiful grounds.
San Martin, Calif.
Just south of San Jose, the focal point of this 1,700-acre sanctuary tucked into the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains might well be its 18-hole championship golf course -- with its own 35,000-square-foot clubhouse -- designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr. But there's more to this sumptuous retreat than working on your short game.
The 45-room property, which houses a collection of 20 original artworks curated by the owner, is in one of California's oldest wine-growing regions, surrounded by boutique wineries and making it the ideal setting for an immersion in nature.
Hike along the two-mile Cordevalle trail or the three-mile Vinter's trail and take in the gorgeous scenery, or rent a bike and cycle the 17-Mile Drive, a California coastal landmark that extends from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach.
At the Sense Spa, indulge in signature grape-seed treatments with ingredients created from the surrounding vineyards, or soak in a therapeutic whirlpool. Those who like to get their hands dirty can tour the on-site 85-acre Clos LaChance winery and vineyard and help out with the harvesting, followed by a sampling of the produce and a game or two of boccie.