The year 2021 is all about restoring and reviving the wellness routines that were derailed last year. With the world limping back to normalcy, we are experiencing a major changeover in the way people are approaching their physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
As Neha Bose, director of rooms, Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru rightly puts it “Wellness is not a new concept, but the approach has changed post-Covid.” There is a strong inclination towards guilt-free self-care that is leading the introduction of several new products and experiences in the wellness industry.
Bose says, “The last year has really made us turn inward and focus on our health. A holistic, mind-body-soul approach is on the rise. Instead of working out to the point of exhaustion, there is a sense of wellbeing that is being embraced. Mindfulness has become more than a watchword. Redemptive time in nature, eating clean, getting quality sleep and breath-work are some key pivots.”
In addition, wellness focused-travel is also gaining momentum.
Last year, when the unlock phase began, I remember taking my first trip, almost after eight months, to a tranquil wellness resort in Maharashtra, as I was seeking a place where I could regain my stability, maintain my equanimity, and explore a new sense of living — something that is a priority for many individuals now.
Wellness tourism is on a rise across the globe with long vacations, nature-centric excursions, fitness holidays, sustainable and eco-tourism, and digital detox widening the scope and range of this form of travel.
Speaking about wellness travel in India, Sabina Chopra, co-founder and chief operating officer, Corporate Travel and Head Industry Relations, Yatra.com says, “In 2021, with various trends picking up in demand, travellers from across the country are planning wellness retreats at exotic locations to break free from the monotony and hustle of city life. Due to this increase in queries, our hospitality partners are curating customised treatments and programmes for travellers seeking to experience local culture and indulge in wellness travel to detox, rejuvenate and relax and come back stronger to their regular lives.”
Goa, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat are a few Indian states that are popular in the wellness tourism circuit.
Popular wellness retreats in India include Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat, Svatma, The Malabar House and Purity.
A holistic wellness approach ensures an ideal balance between physical and mental wellbeing. However, many times, people tend to ignore their mental health concerns. Fitness celebrity coach, Shivoham says, “Mental fitness is as important as physical fitness because our mind and body are one. What goes on in our mind affects every cell of our body. Every lifestyle disease is connected with excess stress. Hence, it is absolutely vital that just like we set a daily routine for a physical fitness routine, we need to dedicate at least 20-30 minutes every day for our mental fitness which can be a combination of meditations, pranayama, and positive affirmations.”
Furthermore, Vinaya Jadhav, spa manager, Spa by JW, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar elaborates on the importance of a good diet and workout to build better mental health. “Diet plays an important role in your mental wellbeing as what you eat, helps to make your mind stronger and sharper. Exercise is another important method for better mental health. Performing a few breathing exercises at the beginning of your day will make you stay focused and energetic throughout the day. Cultivation of positive thoughts helps to impact mental wellbeing and embrace a healthy lifestyle.”
We as individuals as well as a society should promote good mental health as it ensures clarity in thoughts, reduces anxiety and risk of depression, increases productivity, provides a greater sense of calm and inner peace, and improves self-esteem.
A plethora of new spa and wellness services are being introduced to accommodate the transitions occurring in the health sector. Hospitality chains and wellness retreats are moulding their offerings in a way that they involve limited physical touch, but assure a well-crafted service amidst a safe environment.
Commenting on the transition, Jadhav says, “There is no doubt that the wellness and spa industry has and will experience an immense transformation as a result of the pandemic. While masks and gloves have become an integral part of the uniform, the post-Covid spa industry won’t just be about being clean, but being seen as clean. We have taken care of aligning the cleanliness protocols with our hotel’s procedures. The safety measures are communicated to the guests to instil a sense of safety in them. Marriott International’s Commitment To Clean initiative takes our existing practices a notch higher.” Accor’s Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat focuses more on implementing and practicing Ayurveda, naturopathy, and yogic practice through adding therapies which require minimum touch.
Talking about the social distancing aspect, Sanjay Pagi, general manager, Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat says, “To make it as simple as possible for guests and staff to follow this new rule, we ensure a one-way flow. We have prepared a system to monitor the entrance and exit within the spa. Appointment timings are planned accordingly, on which the allotted therapist escorts and guides the guests further.”
Therapies offered at the retreat include pranayama breathing techniques to strengthen the connection between body and mind; shirodhara relaxation therapy which helps in calming the body and stimulates the bone marrow; yogic laughing therapy; meditation sessions and naturopathy therapy.
Svatma, a Relais & Châteaux member, offers the unique Sound Spa that does not require any physical contact and is a preferred choice among customers.
Wearable technology is gaining popularity. As per the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021”, wearable tech ranks second on the list of top 20 worldwide fitness trends for the year. People are investing in fitness trackers and gadgets manufactured by brands like Fitbit, Samsung, and Apple to keep a tab on their daily lifestyle and track heart rate, body temperature, calories and sleep time among others. The report states how initially, there were some questions raised about the accuracy of wearable technology, but the issues seemed to be resolved well enough as it has been estimated to be about a US$100 billion industry.
In this era of social distancing, technology is also playing a key role in the overall functioning of hospitality brands that wish to offer an elevated wellness experience to their patrons. A case in point is Four Seasons Hotel Bengaluru, where guests get to control their engagement with employees — by limiting face-to-face interactions, while indulging in signature service, through Four Seasons App and Four Seasons Chat.
“Spa appointments can be easily made via Four Seasons Chat as there is real human interaction and not a bot answering queries. Therapists make every effort to have guests complete the intake form/spa questionnaire and spa waiver remotely, prior to appointment with the help of chat. Touch-less treatment menu is available by QR code. Payment is encouraged through payment link, or by touch-less methods. An iPad is available to scroll through treatment options,” explains Bose.
Today, people are interested in food more than they have ever been. The pandemic has induced a significant behavioural change in terms of diet with people focusing more on healthy, mindful, and clean eating. Thankfully, restrictive diets and quick weight loss programmes are expected to fall out of favour, this year. Instead, the focus will be more on consuming immunity boosting ingredients, growing one’s own produce, supporting local labels and up-cycling food. An increased awareness about foods with the highest and lowest environmental impacts is also a key component in an individual’s journey towards sustainable living.
Expressing views on mindful and sustainable eating in this ongoing scenario, K. Sridhar, general manager, Svatma says, “Wellness through the eyes of ancient Indians, Greeks, Chinese, and Egyptians was a daily ritual that contributed to the purification of minds and bodies. The ritual of healthy eating is central to this and we aim to invoke changes in the diets of our clients that are sustainable far beyond their stay at our hotel, resulting in a profound change in their daily wellbeing.”
Svatma serves organic, uniquely tailored cuisine that focuses on fresh and local produce. This premier wellness retreat down south also lays a huge emphasis on ethical food practices that support local artisanal farmers without compromising on taste.
Relais & Châteaux members, The Malabar House and Purity also work on the lines of sustainable sourcing. They pair local produce with cooking styles that cater to various customer preferences; and share stories on the same with guests, the feedback for which has been positive so far.
Daily wellness checklist
- Meditate to keep your body and mind calm
- Stay hydrated to not just quench your thirst, but also regain energy
- Workout to boost productivity
- Eat healthy, clean, and on time
- A good night’s sleep is crucial
- Digital detox is a must