TREND: Wellness Destinations Get into Serious Emotional Healing

In response to pandemic pain, more programming is tackling tougher emotions—from grief to trauma 

Back in January, at our trends event in NYC, we speculated that when travel (and the world) started to open up, wellness resorts would need to address tougher, more raw human emotions and pain given the mental wellness crisis wrought by the pandemic. We argued that the old “stress-reduction” message and therapies would now feel lightweight and that more destinations would “get real” and play it less safe with their mental wellness programming, which can often feel abstract and about achieving some kind of superhero self-optimization. People are in pain; they’ve been isolated; they seek serious mental healing and a deeper meaning in life. And the future is more intensive, comprehensive emotional wellness solutions.
This is now happening: Hotels, wellness resorts and even new real estate developments are rolling out programming to tackle everything from grief to trauma, and they’re bringing in new practitioners, from therapists and psychiatrists to hypnotherapists and spiritual healers. 
It’s all part of the larger, unprecedented global conversation underway: Everyone suffers mental issues and emotional pain, even the most “well” and fit people imaginable, as evidenced by the courageous recent actions of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles. This new, positive focus on emotional wellness is part of a larger questioning of our patriarchal society, where emotion is derided as feminine weakness. 
There are numerous examples of the new emotional healing in wellness (and more below). Scream therapy has been dubbed “the new yoga,” as more people ache for the most cathartic emotional release. At Kamalaya in Thailand, their new program “Embracing Change,” is all about healing the intense emotional stresses born of the pandemic, using everything from acupuncture to one-on-one sessions with a mentor who does some hard work with you to unriddle your emotional patterns. Accor’s Raffles Hotels and Resorts’ new wellness program is tellingly called “Emotional Wellbeing by Raffles.” Greece’s Euphoria Retreat has launched a new program for “trauma recovery,” which revolves around a lot of emotional expression work. Six Senses has been focused on “emotional hospitality” and is programming around important (but too- often disregarded) concepts such as the power of love. More destinations are combining the clinical and the spiritual, such as Cavallo Point near San Francisco, which offers everything from hypnotherapy to Shamanic journeys to ease the pain. 
There’s an incredible opportunity for wellness destinations to invent a new integrative mental wellness arsenal, to be a positive force in smashing taboos around mental struggles, and to give people what they now need most: to come to their emotional rescue. 

Summit Trends in the News

Wellness’ Pandemic Challenge: Grieving GuestsTravel Weekly

More wellness resorts are creating programming that solves for new pandemic pain points: specifically, to help guests heal emotionally from grief, loss or seismic life changes. For instance, Canyon Ranch properties have a team of licensed therapists that deliver mental health counseling, and they have new retreats such as “Transition Purposely” to help people navigate through tough experiences. The Art of Living Retreat Center in North Carolina has upcoming retreats to help guests deal with death and grief, led by a therapist, a death doula, and famed death and grief expert Dr. BJ Miller. 

The Latest Luxury Amenity You Didn’t Know You Needed: TherapyMansion Global

If incorporating therapists and psychiatrists into hotels would have once seemed strange, no more, as the pandemic has unleashed new needs for more integrative mental wellness programming. At VeraVia at Park Hyatt Aviara in CA, guests and residents have a host of services on call, from psychiatric consultations to behavioral wellness workshops, while Four Seasons Residences and Hotel New York Downtown offers clinical hypnotherapy and mental health coaching.

Pandemic Inspires Wellness Retreat ProgrammingStylus

As an example of the wider trend of “emotive programming” at wellness resorts, this looks at Mexico’s Chablé Hotels' new retreats with a heavy focus on healing heartbreak and emotional distress through Mayan rituals. Their “You and the Love Story” retreat is about healing after a relationship breaks down. 

How About a Concierge for Your Spiritual Life?New York Times

This looks at how new, high-end real estate developments are moving beyond gyms and yoga studios to give the mental health and spiritual side of things equal importance. The new development Gravity, in Columbus, Ohio, will launch Innerspace, bringing together mental health professionals, such as therapists and life coaches, for both residents and the community. 

Time to HealTravel & Leisure

A T&L editor argues that a “massage and facial just isn't going to cut it anymore” when it comes to dealing with the world’s current emotional pain and explores how hotels are expanding into intensive mental healing. She shares her experience at CA’s Ojai Valley Inn, noting that a lot of these new mental wellness programs “verge on therapy or even medical care.”

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