TREND: Bigger, More Sophisticated Medical-Wellness Destinations 

The GWS’s 2021 trend, the “Self-Care Renaissance,” argues that if the first Medical Renaissance happened three hundred years ago (with science overcoming superstition and with a flurry of anatomical and medical discoveries), then we are on the cusp of a new kind of Medical Renaissance, where two complementary yet persistently competing entities—healthcare and wellness—will increasingly come together. 
The pandemic meant a new awakening to the value of both camps and how they simply must be better integrated. We certainly learned that science and medicine are essential (and that essential oils don’t cure COVID), just as we had a very tangible lesson about the terrible human cost of not focusing on preventable chronic diseases, which led to so many hospitalizations and deaths. The trend predicts an era where healthcare and wellness become more intertwined—from wellness starting to lean into science, establishing standards and holding itself accountable, to healthcare borrowing from the wellness playbook and evolving what has become a sterile and strictly curative industry into a more holistic, prevention-focused and even pleasurable one. The Global Wellness Institute identifies a new model emerging, where healthcare and self-care are a collaboration (see below).

One distinct way that healthcare and wellness are converging anew is in the momentum for bigger, more sophisticated integrative medical-wellness resorts. While this is very much a trend at the high-end, destinations are betting that people with means will seek places that bring a much broader array of medical technologies and wellness approaches together in one place. And it’s increasingly a specific kind of medicine being delivered, revolving around advanced testing and diagnostics (cardiovascular, respiratory, hormone, nutrition/microbiome, DNA, epigenetics, etc.). Because people want to be programmed on more serious, science-backed, personalized medical and wellness plans, they want to see the “whys” for that plan and also the data on whether the wellness stay and plan is actually working.

If Europe has been pioneering medical-wellness resorts for years (from Lanserhof to Sha Wellness Clinic to Bürgenstock’s Waldhotel), there is now more activity underway globally. Tri Vananda, coming to Thailand next year, looks to take the integrative medical-wellness concept to new and bigger places—and RAKxa, which just opened near Bangkok, marries a team of doctors, medical diagnostic testing and comprehensive wellness therapies. Zoya Health & Wellbeing Resort will open in the UAE in September, where the personalized medical-wellness game plans begin with doctor consultations and medical diagnostics. Palazzo Fiuggi Wellness Medical Retreat, opened last week outside Rome, focuses on fusing advanced medical diagnostics with an array of wellness approaches. Swiss retreat operator Chenot, whose Chenot Method has blended medical and wellness approaches for almost 50 years, is expanding its brand­—from unveiling its new home, Chenot Palace Weggis on Lake Lucerne, in 2020 to a new Chenot medical-wellness center at One&Only’s brand-new Portonovi Resort in Montenegro.  

One could go on. While it may not be the most democratic trend (these comprehensive medical-wellness destinations don’t come cheap), they do represent new models where you see a new democracy between “medicine” and “wellness”: both more medical AND wellness approaches under one “roof”—and a greater balance between the two. 

This is inspired by the “Self-Care Renaissance-Where Wellness and Healthcare Converge” trend in the 2021 Global Wellness Trends Report.


Summit Trends in the News

Q&A, Sue Harmsworth: How integrative wellness resorts—which marry “serious” and “light” wellness—are the futureGlobal Wellness Institute

Sue Harmsworth, wellness industry pioneer, argues that destinations that “bring everything together,” combining preventative medicine and advanced diagnostic testing with all kinds of traditional wellness, are the future.

Project in Focus: Tri Vananda, Phuket, ThailandTop Hotel News

One of the most ambitious medical-wellness real estate/resortprojects under development: Tri Vananda, coming to Thailand in 2022. The $220 million, net-zero emissions, multigenerational project will feature an integrative medicine center with diagnostic facilities, a cognitive health center, and a TCM and physiotherapy focus.

€100 million Lanserhof Sylt project forges ahead towards 2021 openingSpa Business

Germany and Austria pioneered the medical-wellness-resort concept, so it’s no surprise that leaders like Lanserhof are on the march. Lanserhof Sylt will open this year with a focus on high-tech medicine and natural therapies, tackling everything from cardiological rehabilitation to treatment for respiratory and skin diseases. 

Extensive new medi-wellness resort, RAKxa, will offer complete blueprint of health in Bangkok’s ‘Green LungSpa Business

Recently-opened RAKxa outside Bangkok brings together medical diagnostic testing and ancient and holistic therapies. Its VitalLife Scientific Wellness Clinic, a subsidiary of Bumrungrad International Hospital, offers DNA, epigenetics, hormone, gut microbiome and micronutrient testing—while also featuring experts in TCM, Ayurveda and Traditional Thai Medicine.

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