Say hello to the next travel wave: The ‘wellcation’

Americans are ready to suit up — especially when that involves bathing suits and suitcases. With this summer predicted to be a record-breaking travel season, it’s clear Americans are eager for a vacation.

According to a new travel trends survey by Hilton, 76% of Americans experience negative emotions when they go too long without a vacation, with 41% noting job burnout as the top stressor. But sometimes taking a break is easier said than done — more than half of those surveyed said they felt guilty about taking time off from work.

The survey results further spotlighted how the events of the last two years changed people’s travel preferences, including a stronger focus on a newfound travel wave: the “wellcation,” a vacation mixed with well-being.

“There is no doubt the pandemic fundamentally changed what people are looking for when they travel. Today, more than ever, people are seeking out travel experiences that meet deeper emotional needs,” said Matt Schuyler, chief brand officer for Hilton. “In the wellness arena, we are dedicated to delivering holistic experiences that go beyond access to the spa and gym and that have a greater emphasis on connecting the mind, body and spirit.”

An overwhelming 98% of Americans reported that they prioritize wellness activities while on vacation. And a holistic approach to wellness is becoming the expectation of travelers. Whether they are sipping a cocktail made with honey sourced from a rooftop bee colony or taking a beachside yoga class, travelers are seeking to fulfill their wellcation dreams this summer. While travelers desire more wellness, they also face constant barriers to incorporating it into their lives.

Hotels are delivering solutions by refreshing their approach and mindset around on-property offerings and features, working to address the whole self by connecting mind, body and spirit in unique ways:

Peace of mind: Digital innovations like contactless arrival and payment allow for a stress-free arrival

Smart technology lets people skip the hassle and start enjoying their vacation (Conrad Punta de Mita).

Amid the chaos of the pandemic, people found a sense of calm and control by identifying efficiencies in their everyday lives. Moving forward, they will continue to look for those conveniences while on the road.

The travel industry is catering to these new preferences with smart technologies like concierge-style, branded apps and contactless payments that provide travelers with both the choice and control that they desire. While the emphasis on caring for mental well-being is not new, after two years of dealing with the realities of pandemic life, people are prioritizing mindfulness more than ever.

For example, Hilton offers contactless arrival for guests via Digital Check-in and Digital Key within the Hilton Honors app at 80% of the 6,800 Hilton hotels worldwide. Guests can bypass lines at the front desk by using Digital Key to unlock their room and access other areas of the hotel that require a key. They can even give the key to a friend or family member with Digital Key Share, which allows more than one guest to have access to a room’s Digital Key.

A body in motion: Amenities and services catering to physical well-being

Caption: Opportunities to prioritize physical well-being have become increasingly important for travelers (Beach Village at The Del, Curio Collection by Hilton).

After a long flight or day of sightseeing, people want to come back to a property that offers more than just a comfortable bed (though those are important, too). In addition to design details and technological upgrades, guests can expect to see wellness amenities catering to the body.

It encompasses a wide range of approaches to wellness. This could mean restaurant menus that include wholesome dishes and thoughtful, alcohol-free drink options. It could be access to personal trainers who will customize workouts on the road or meditation content to help travelers wind down at the end of the day. Or it could cater to the experience of a specific location.

For instance, at Hilton Bogota Corferias in Colombia, guests suffering from altitude sickness can relax with a soothing tea and utilize gym equipment. Both are designed to reduce the effects of elevation on the body and mind.

Those looking to tap into their inner spirituality while traveling through the Southwest could consider the transformative treatments at Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock in Arizona. Led by the resort’s own energy specialist, the treatments include rituals like sound bowl therapy, numerology, lines of life palm reading, tarot card reading and smudging ceremonies influenced by Sedona’s spiritual red rock landscape.

Connecting the spirit: Designs that integrate nature and natural light

There are many ways to enrich the spirit while traveling (DoubleTree by Hilton Noumea Ilot Maitre Resort).

After two years of isolation, travelers will be seeking experiences that allow connection – whether it’s making new friends, striking up conversation by the pool or immersing themselves in the local community. For guests who are looking to connect in a unique way, the Asanas & Agave yoga class at Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk provides a meaningful touchpoint at this monthly event on the Otro terrace bar, which is open to the public. 

It’s not only about social connection, however. More travelers are searching for guidance on how they can make their trip impactful and incorporate sustainability throughout their itinerary. Whether it’s as simple as providing eco-friendly neighborhood transport, using environmentally conscious bath products or seeking out local and sustainable food options, there are many ways to enrich the spirit while traveling.  

Summer is just a month away, and there is a swell of excitement not only to dust off the rolling carry-ons and get away, but to recharge. With all the ways that hotels and resorts are innovating to meet the needs of the changed traveler, the predictions are clear: The holistic wellcation is here to stay.

For more wellcation ideas at Hilton, visit https://www.hilton.com.

Victoria

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