During the 15 years I spent working in the corporate world, I averaged 10 business trips a year. The companies I worked for were large enough to have travel budgets, but small enough to allow me to make my own reservations and choose where to lay my head. In Miami, The Standard was always my go-to for its healthy natural cuisine and world-class spa. The green initiatives heralded at L.A.'s The Ambrose offset my guilt about being in the car all the time. What I didn't realize at the time was that I was engaging in Wellness Travel — finding ways to maintain my health and sense of well-being while on the road.
Today, many hotels realize that their clientele cares about staying healthy on the road, and have implemented offerings such as juice bars, specialty spa treatments and in-room workouts. But if you already take wellness into consideration when traveling for business, are you a good candidate for a full-on wellness vacation for pleasure? Here are some things to consider before you commit:
Are you committed to your health?
Wellness vacations are an emerging market segment in the travel industry, so they come in different shapes and sizes. But all wellness vacations have a few things in common: physical activity, nutrition and free time. Activities can include biking, hiking or yoga, the latter of which is the most requested type of physical activity on a wellness vacation as found Anne Dimon, publisher of Travel to Wellness in her annual company survey.
If you're vegetarian, gluten-free, a raw foodist or have another dietary preference, you can now be fully fed outside a spa setting. Wellness vacations were created to de-stress you. Whether you end up at an all-inclusive wellbeing resort or on a group wellness vacation, your hosts know that you need time to unwind as you see fit. For some that means lounging by the pool, finding a quiet space to journal or signing up for a cooking class. Whatever the individual offerings might be, every wellness vacation or resort looks to address your health as a holistic package.
Do you have a go-with-the-flow attitude?
Options for wellness vacations are popping up around the world. Most likely you'll find some appealing offerings that take place outside of the U.S. As a seasoned traveler knows, when entering a different time zone and culture, there are plenty of opportunities for things to go awry. If missed flight connections, English as a second (or third) language or noodles for breakfast — like they serve in Asia — send you into a tizzy, then this type of vacation isn't for you. The idea of wellness in our country may have a different meaning in Eastern Europe and another meaning in Africa. To get the most enjoyment out of a wellness vacation, you'll need to keep an open mind and a hearty sense of adventure.
Who is your ideal travel companion?
If staying up late, partying at the bar and requesting the hangover cure breakfast is your normal vacation routine, then a wellness vacation will come nowhere near your idea of fun. Most wellness travelers are women who travel solo or with a friend and would rather get a good night's sleep so they can feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Some properties ban cell phone and smart phone use in public areas and very often there are no TVs in your hotel room. You're more likely to find someone quietly reading a book during a wellness vacation than encounter someone glued to their laptop screen.
If all the above sounds like what you've been dreaming of, then be an early adopter and book your first wellness vacation today. I'm pretty sure it will be the first of many to come.