The pandemic necessitated lockdowns by governments as well as self-curtailing of normal activities. Normal life was completely disrupted, leading to an upheaval of our mental, emotional, and physical states. Life has gradually returned to somewhat normal, and we are now dealing with the aftermath of the worst phase of the pandemic – emotional, physical and economic loss. Immersive wellness experiences can help to achieve an enhanced sense of well-being by disconnecting with daily life for a short while and undergo a positive transformation.
Immersing mind, body, and soul in wellness journeys that feel most comfortable and natural to you, is the way to reclaim your well-being and sustain it. Nutrition, physical exercise, healing in nature, and healing trauma with advanced tech are some of the ways by which you can experience immersive wellness. Therefore, many wellness retreats, wellness resorts and wellness hotels are including immersive wellness programs in their offerings. With the help of this guide, you can make an informed decision and choose your next holiday in an immersion retreat.
For renewal and rejuvenation of the mind, soul, and body, here are the latest trends of immersive wellness experience that promise to deliver you back to complete physical and mental wellbeing.
Guide to emerging Immersive Wellness Experiences- its benefits and importance in wellness tourism and wellness resorts
Trends of immersive wellness experience
Connection to nature
To adapt to social distancing needs, people started venturing out to open spaces, locally. Resorts and hotels were all closed, but in order to maintain some connection with nature, people drove down to natural parks and forests, fields, went boating etc. to spend time with nature.
This connection helped people to remain happy even though they were not able to physically connect with relatives and friends. Connecting to nature enabled a deeper connection with the inner spirit, which was a healing experience. Nature provides the opportunity to recharge, refresh and renew.
To continue on this path, many people will seek out immersive experiences in nature in retreats that have long focused on offering nature-based therapeutic treatments. With this rising trend, the immersive wellness retreat business is set to boom in the coming years.
VR wellness immersion
VR or Virtual Reality environments have been used in various scenarios, including the military, NASA, and the airline industries. VR has the power to create amazing immersive experiences that can transport a person into another world. It is supposed to create sophisticated environments that include the sense of touch and smell too.
VRis used for mental, physical, and emotional immersive wellness experiences that can help in healing. The proposition is to use it in hospitals for patients who are unable to go outside and feel isolated. The safe mode of escape from pain is being applied in various clinical settings with state-of-the-art headsets and cutting-edge technology.
People experience wellness while traveling using VR immersion to overcome the fear of flying. As Covid-19 demonstrated, we need to experience wellness in our homes too. Imagine traveling to a sunny beach and feeling the sound of crashing waves while you are at home! This is just the tip of the VR-enabled immersive wellness experience examples. Fragrance delivery systems developed by IFF and Givaudan are set to take armchair traveling to the next level.
Intentional holistic approach to self-care
Before the pandemic struck, coping mechanisms to ‘get away from it all’ were very different. People used to go out with friends, watch movies, go clubbing or attend concerts and so on. The restriction on gatherings and closure of cinema halls, and wellness resorts, retreats, gyms has been a dampener on the usual modes of coping.
The survival mechanisms have been to intentionally practice therapies such as meditation, yoga, and exercising in the confines of the home. As medical and other health professionals had to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, self-care came to the forefront.
To overcome the trauma of losing loved ones, allaying anxiety, and beat fear, people began to rely on self-carethrough various fitness programs. The trend of watching self-care videos and reading online would also be an important part of the immersive wellness experience.
Focus on immunity immersion and preventative healthcare
Everyone wants to live a healthy and long life, free from diseases. The pandemic crisis has demonstrated how immunity plays a strong role in fighting off the deadliest viruses. Those infected by the virus were able to fight it off, and recover only if they had a strong natural resistance.
The awareness of taking responsibility for one’s health is one of the outcomes of the pandemic. From nutrition that promotes immunity to designing programs that address physical, emotional and mental health, immersive wellness experiences in wellness resorts are now focusing on balancing the immune system. Traditional Chinese and Indian medicines, yoga, meditation, cryotherapy, cleansing and detox programs are being offered. Personalized immunity-balancing programs on beating stress, eating healthy and getting good sleep are finding more takers.
Building and nurturing social connections
In-person socialization is a great stress buster and mood booster. Before the pandemic, tech boom, overwork, distance, and other factors created some sort of social disconnection that peaked in the pandemic. The world witnessed a massive breakdown in social connections that became unbearable. People suffered from loneliness, depression, and anxiety more than ever before. Immersive wellness experiences in wellness resorts are helping individuals in building social connections fulfilling their need to be heard and seen.
Many travelers are expected to return to their favorite haunts before the pandemic. They are looking for familiar faces among the staff and alumni to set the innate human-human connection fast. The key takeaway for wellness resorts, wellness retreats, and wellness hotels – connect with your previous customers. Always be on their radar.
Long-term sabbatical stays
For those who want to take a long break and go for a sabbatical to heal themselves will be the travelers seeking out immersive wellness experiences in wellness tourism. This is quite feasible provided you get the right location and associated arrangements. They won’t have to remain cut off from work but continue working from the location itself. Wellness resorts, wellness hotels and wellness retreats, therefore, must provide a decent working space witha strong Wi-Fi connection and other tech support. Being away from the cooped environment for some time boosts productivity, facilitates relaxation and healing along with inculcating life-improving habits.
Personalized health care with high-tech
Advances in personalized data analysis and DNA have led to the discovery of an individual’s genetic predispositions to illness and responses to diet, weight, fitness, optimizing skin health and more. Immersive wellness experiences in wellness tourism are also making use of this technology to explore the different aspects of health, including aging, diseases and skin care. This trend will attract people who want to get to the root of their health problems.
Exploring sobriety as a way of life
Being ‘sober curious’ is one of the latest trends which saw a fivefold increase in interest in 2017. The trend explores how one can live without alcohol, for wellness and health reasons. This could also be due to the immersive wellness programs designed around abstinence. The experience provides an environment and community that support rehabilitating addicts as well as ‘sober curious’ people who do not want to drink socially too.
Demystifying male wellness, health and redefining masculinity
Men have traditionally been viewed as ‘macho’ beings who bear all types of pain stoically. In recent years, this myth has been busted as men have started to take an interest in overall well-being, including learning techniques to de-stress, eat healthy, and pursue yoga and mindful meditation. Immersive wellness experiences, which are men-centric have been planned to offer men a way to manage and resolve their mental, emotional, spiritual and physical pain.
Growing acceptance and practice of energy healing and psychedelic healing
Immersive experiences including plant-based medicines and energy healing are getting accepted as mainstream wellness therapies, especially as they are now backed by research. These have the potential to alleviate anxiety, depression, addiction, and PTSD. These treatments should be provided in a safe environment by qualified, legal and experienced practitioners.
Body cleansing treatments
Healthy nutritious meals have been an integral part of immersive wellness experiences in wellness tourism. Many famed wellness resorts, such as Rancho La Puerta, SHA Wellness Clinic, Chiva-Som, Pritikin Longevity Center and others, offer customized meals. Ingredients of the meals are probiotics, macrobiotics, antiaging meso nutrients, and those that are anti-inflammatory and brain boosting. Plant-based fish, locally produced organic food and unprocessed food are furthering this trend.
Training the brain with AI
Enhancing productivity, mental sharpness, brain health, preventing brain decline, and brain fog are being explored as focused immersions, which are being addressed with quality sleep and resilience. AI-guided meditation and other practices to improve mental health will be part of the immersive wellness in luxurious wellness resorts. Neurotechnology, AI and VR will train the brain to increase awareness, feel frequencies, increase attention, resilience and focus.
Harnessing ancient science to facilitate modern science
Ancient science such as Ayurveda has been included in mainstream therapies and immersive wellness in luxurious wellness resorts. For example, Surya in California is offering a 7-day treatment program in immersive panchkarma. Working with indigenous elders and shamans is trending too. The wisdom of our ancestors combined with cutting-edge science will provide the perfect blend of the old and the new.
Using sounds and vibrations as immersive experiences
Immersing oneself in sound to connect to yourself and tune in to self-reflection and observation is a growing wellness trend. Specific harmonic overtones designed as concerts, sound meditation and other sound therapies available online are making inroads into the wellness awareness of individuals.
Creating the bliss body
We have consciously or unconsciously observed the bliss body in dancers, athletes, and others who ‘go with the flow’. Techniques are devised to overcome the resistance in us and impart the feeling of complete involvement with 100% focus to release our happy hormones.
These hormones, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, endorphins, and anandamide, better known as bliss molecules, make us feel good and happy. This trend is likely to appeal to those who have witnessed and experienced Covid-induced grief and loss in many ways.
Market demand for immersive wellness
The interest of travellers in self-care has shot upin the pandemic. The primary and secondary wellness travelers (GWI: primary wellness travelers are those who travel seeking wellness as the prime goal, and secondary wellness travelers seek to maintain their own wellness goals while on a regular work-related or other journey) make up quite a chunk of travelers worldwide.
Bespoke wellness programs are in demand now, as people are looking for wellness journeys – traditional hotels as well as spas and wellness resorts could implement new trends in immersive wellness experiences in wellness tourism, to stay relevant.
Wellness tourism, driven by the aspiration for a healthy lifestyle, has grown at 6.5% annually since 2015, double the rate of tourism industry growth (3.2%). To bring home the reality of wellness travel and business opportunity, the numbers say it all – 830 million people took wellness trips in 2017.
The GWI predicted that the wellness tourism economy would continue to grow, and reach 919.4 billion dollars by 2022. This figure might deviate a bit due to the pandemic, but people have started venturing out locally or within their own country in greater numbers. Immersive wellness oriented short- and long-term programs are bound to be the most sought after.
Wellness retreats offering immersive wellness experience
Rancho La Puerta
Immersive wellness in luxurious wellness resorts such as Rancho La Puerta offer a wholesome and rejuvenating experience. The resort has a “Family Week”, with myriad activities for children. Parents and children participate in wellness and adventure programs, cooking classes, fun activities like foam rolling, zumba, noodle water polo, observing nature and much more.
When travel becomes normal and resorts open following covid norms, this is the place to visit with family. Visitors are impressed by the sense of camaraderie and family feeling imparted by the staff.
Kagi, Maldives Spa Island
This resort will debut in the fall of 2021. It focuses on delivering an immersive wellness experience through biophilic design, 1,500 sq meter spa, gym, 50 villas and a wellness program called the Release, Restore and Regain. Four treatment rooms are accompanied by an outdoor bathing facility. Beauty salon, relaxation lounge, sound-healing studio, fitness classes and a host of alternative therapies promise a great immersive experience and send you back home recharged in mind, body and soul.
Santani Wellness Resort and Spa, Sri Lanka
This resort is one of the pioneers in antiaging and detoxing. Santani offers an immunity immersion experience through their immune booster package, focusing on all the five systems which function as the body’s excretory system. The toxins are flushed out, providing relief to the immune system and making it strong enough to fight external threats.
Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand
Kamalaya has developed a holistic immersive wellness program which explores immunity and resilience of the body. Visitors will work with mentors guiding them on life enhancement, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, and Naturopaths to get to the subtle roots in mind and body rejuvenation.
Nutritional guidance will help visitors to get on to the path of mindful eating. Bio resonance therapy, meditation and mindfulness training help to cultivate tranquility. The program has been designed for those with post-viral exhaustion, have low immunity or auto-immune concerns or want to fortify themselves against future ill-health.
Amooma Spa & Sanctuary, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Amoomaoffers VR immersive experience to its visitors to achieve mindfulness. Their VR therapy reduces stress by deepening their meditative experience. Virtual reality is helping people unwind and get away from daily stresses. The novel immersive experience is named ‘Sousou’, which in Chinese means ‘searching yourself’.
Aro Ha Wellness Retreat, New Zealand
Aro Ha is famed for its wellness programs and has won many awards. Aro Ha has been redesigned to meet and exceed the government-set standards of Covid protocols, so it is a safe place to visit now. It offers various nature immersive experiences, yoga, nutrition, mindfulness and functional movement programs to restore your sense of wellbeing.
Ananda in the Himalayas, India
Ananda in the Himalayas offers long-term immersive wellness stays which include detoxing and anti-aging treatment, mind-body healing with yoga and other healing methods. The luxury resort has come up with immersive wellness strategies to combat the effects of longcovid. This would help people who are unable to recover completely even after several weeks or even months after their symptoms first started showing.
The therapists at Ananda conduct a comprehensive assessment of the system dysfunction as well as symptoms, and prescribe a treatment program through Ayurvedic therapies, herbal medicines, diet, pranayama and yoga as well as meditation.
- Immersive wellness experiences are being embraced by people from all walks of life.
- Wellness resorts, wellness spas, hotels, retreats and luxury wellness establishments would do well to implement holistic, high tech immersion experiences using AI and VR.
- Long-term stays are on the rise as people are still working from home or remote locations.
- Covid oriented wellness therapies such as immunity boosting diets and therapies are being implemented.
- Travelers are actively seeking out immunity-based immersive wellness retreats.
- DNA testing to create personalized wellness plans.
- The nature connection is offered to connect with oneself.
- Men-centric wellness programs are going mainstream.