Rise of wellness retreats in cultural tourism

Rise of wellness retreats in cultural tourismRise of wellness retreats in cultural tourism

Whether one is going all out in 'Eat Pray Love' style or taking a couple of days off on a long weekend, serenity retreats are becoming a popular way...

Whether one is going all out in 'Eat Pray Love' style or taking a couple of days off on a long weekend, serenity retreats are becoming a popular way to 'connect' and 'disconnect' at the same time. Today a growing number of travellers are also choosing to go 'solo', to truly make the most out of a trip.

They view travel as a therapeutic, fulfilling experience, getting to know oneself better away from the fast-paced lives we otherwise tend to lead. As a result, wellness tourism has been on a steady rise across India and the rest of the world.

As per recent reports, the top five countries for wellness tourism are the US, Germany, China, France and Japan. Additionally, Iceland, New Zealand, Turkey, Argentina and Hungary are the fastest-growing wellness experience destinations according to Trip Advisor, with Iceland's Reykjavik topping the list of destinations.

However, Asia is not far behind, and its wellness travel market is expected to grow rapidly to reach USD 252 billion by 2022, as more players in the market open their doors with immersive experiences.

Wellness beyond spa treatment and yoga

While wellness retreats are most often equated with spas, baths and other luxury-centric activities, with the growing demand from tourists across age groups and spending capabilities, the experiences on offer have evolved too.

As per a report by Sodexo, non-spa-related healthy travel represents close to 60% of the wellness tourism industry. With a focus on helping people bring out the best versions of themselves, several retreats with unconventional methods and activities have emerged. These range from bike tours and living like the locals, to nature walks, traditional cooking and surfing.

Experiences across demographics

With the plethora of options available today, wellness travel is a growing trend amongst travellers across categories and of all ages. Earlier, these types of retreats would largely be considered by middle-aged or older people to target their ailments or relax away from work. Now, with millennials looking for better, once-in-a-lifetime experiences the concept of wellness travel is an attractive one for them, too.


The increased flexibility with experiential wellness retreats also has great potential to become a fad amongst corporates and business travellers. This can be incorporated not just as a standalone treatment but as a key part of team-building exercises. It can bring greater focus on mental health and wellbeing at the workplace, helping them detox with a combination of meditation and outdoor activity along with creativity and art workshops.

- Ithaka

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