With wellness tourism now a multibillion-dollar industry and one of the fastest growing sectors of the global travel industry, hotels and resorts around the world are taking note and catering to guests looking for an immediate dose of rest and rejuvenation. Sleep-deprived? Check in to a room fitted out with lighting designed to regulate sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Feel jet-lagged? Book a spa treatment that has you sweating out heavy metals accumulated while flying, or have your hotel room transformed into a personal fitness zone so you can work out at your leisure. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, here are 12 ways to keep your health and well-being goals on track while you’re away from home.
By Judy Chapman
Go Allergy Free
Breathe easier when you stay at an Element hotel, where rooms come with 100-percent recycled carpet and low toxin paints, which are not only environmentally friendly but also kind to those prone to allergies. Even in a party town, you can check in to a Stay Well room on the 14th floor of the MGM Grand Las Vegas, and you’ll enjoy a personal water filtration system and shower water infused with vitamin C to neutralizes chlorine, thereby promoting naturally healthy hair and skin. A number of hotel brands, including Hyatt and Hilton, are transforming select rooms to receive Pure certification. There are now more than 3,000 of these rooms across the globe, all of which feature air purifiers and hypoallergenic bedding and are cleaned using nontoxic chemicals.
With sleep disorders linked to a growing number of health issues ranging from obesity to heart disease, rooms conducive to a good night’s sleep are high on the agenda for luxury hotels. At The Benjamin New York, the Rest & Renew program is curated by sleep expert Dr. Rebecca Robbins and includes low-calorie bedtime snacks, herbal teas, and a “work-down call”: a reminder from the hotel’s Sleep Team to power down your electronics before bed. The Six Senses group also called upon sleep experts to create their Yogic Sleep program, which combines wellness consultations with yoga sessions and in-room adjustments such as oil burners before bed and top-quality sheets.
Order Healthy In-room Dining
Gone are the days when the “healthy” options on in-room dining menus consisted of an egg-white omelet or green salad. Thanks to on-site gardens, all Six Senses properties offer meals and fresh juices that are organic. From London to Bangkok and beyond, Como Hotels are renowned for their Como Shambhala Cuisine and healthy mini-bar snacks, created to help improve concentration and energy and balance blood-sugar levels. And The Peninsula Hotels has updated its group-wide Naturally Peninsula dining options to now include dishes that are nutritious, gluten-free, low in sugar, and prepared using organic and sustainably-sourced produce.
On-site smoothie and juice bars are an emerging trend. Boost your immune system with seasonal juices, tonics, and elixirs at Lovage, the farm-to-table juice kitchen at London’s Ace Hotel. In Seoul, the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square offers the Nutrition Bar for juices, smoothies, and teas prepared by a “vegetable sommelier”, while the Swissôtel group recently introduced a menu of Vitality Drinks, including power shots and healthy breakfast smoothies filled with fiber and protein; at the Istanbul property, guests are invited behind the bar where they can learn to concoct their own recipes.
Choose a Fitness-focused Hotel
It’s easier than ever to check in and work out. Rooms at London’s Metropolitan by Como and 45 Park Lane come with yoga mats as well as TVs pre-programmed with fitness channels. Even Hotels, the American wellness-focused chain owned by the InterContinental group, provide in-room cork-floored fitness zones equipped with balls and weights, best paired with workout inspiration found on the Even Hotels app. In its properties across North America, Omni Hotels & Resorts goes as far as offering Get Fit rooms that come with a treadmill and weights kit.
Ask An Expert
Hotels around the world are making fitness advice as easy to enquire about as, say, where to go for dinner. The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, for example, has a certified personal trainer on staff who can consult on individual regimens or lead you in a beachside boot camp program. At Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London, Ruben Tabares—an elite personal trainer and nutritionist with high-profile clients such as Mickey Rourke and Naomi Watts—is on hand for strength and conditioning training sessions. Various Westin properties employ special running concierges to lead guests on pre-planned routes, and speaking of concierges, LUX* Resorts & Hotels has launched the Me Wellness Concierge Service in Mauritius and the Maldives. With it, guests are offered a complimentary pre-arrival fitness consultation and assigned a personal wellness concierge upon arrival to help with everything from organizing training sessions to providing tips on healthy eating.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
There’s no better time to try something different than when you’re in a foreign destination. Every weekend at The Standard, High Line in New York, fitness artist Nicole Winhoffer runs an endurance workout in the dark—you’ll let your guard down and hopefully come out smiling. In Bali, Hotel Komune offers night surfing so you can escape the crowds and enjoy a different perspective of the waves. Also in Bali, Alila Manggis organizes underwater yoga classes for non-certified and certified divers in different locations, while sister property Alila Villas Uluwatu holds aerial yoga sessions in its clifftop Sunset Cabana. At the Maldives’ Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, the recently unveiled Yoga Energy Trail is designed to have you completing poses at the resort island’s most scenic lookouts. Equally breathtaking views can be enjoyed during yoga classes on the 37th-floor helipad at The Peninsula Bangkok.
Take Time Out to Meditate
With the calming health benefits of meditation now well known, a growing clutch of hotels is offering classes to guests looking to relax and unwind. Complimentary 20-minute lunchtime sessions are available at the Aman Spa at The Connaught Hotel in London, while The Standard, East Village recently partnered with meditation experts The Path to offer free classes for in-house guests. The new Meditation Suites at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Queensland, Australia, come with a Zen corner equipped with cushions, meditation books, and an iPod stocked with guided meditations.
Do a Digital Detox
Research shows that constantly staring at a screen is as bad for our bodies as it is for our peace of mind. Destination retreats such as Thailand’s Chiva Som are helping tech addicts kick the habit by banning mobile phones—and even e-readers—in its public spaces. Guests are also encouraged to wean themselves off their digital devices at Aro Hā, a wellness resort whose remote location in New Zealand’s Southern Alps means no mobile phone reception or Wi-Fi throughout the eight-hectare property.
Train Before Take Off
At Doha’s Hamad International Airport, the new Vitality Wellbeing and Fitness Centre houses a gym, squash courts, a swimming pool, and a spa where anti–jet lag treatments star on the menu. And if you’re luck enough to be flying at the pointy end of an Etihad plane, you can enjoy complimentary treatments at the Six Senses Spa located in premium lounges at the Abu Dhabi and Heathrow international airports. For post-flight spa treatments, try therapies designed to alleviate the side-effects of flying such as the Triple Oxygen Treatment at a number of W Hotels & Resorts properties, or book some time in the Infrared Detox Sauna at Bali’s Karma Kandara, where you sweat out heavy metals accumulated from flying.
Take It Outdoors
Explore a new city and keep fit at the same time by making the most of scenic jogging and walking trails mapped out for you by urban hotels such as Metropolitan by Como, London, Hotel Ritz, Madrid, and Four Seasons hotels in Paris, Prague, and Washington, D.C. Checking in to a Westin hotel? The brand teamed up with New Balance to create a range of city and beach running routes suitable for all fitness levels. And if you’ve left your workout gear at home, both Westin and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts loan out shoes and athletic gear, so there’s no excuse not to exercise when you’re on the road.
Connect with Others
A number of studies have shown that a healthy social life is a contributing factor to longevity. And as such, an increasing number of travelers are seeking less corporate and more convivial places to reside when they’re away. The Standard Hotels in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami Beach are big on organizing guest gatherings including full moon acupuncture sessions, fire ceremonies, astrology classes, and meditation groups. The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong has just launched Whiskey Wednesdays, group whiskey tasting sessions with a side of pampering in the property’s Nail Bar, and the Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal offers complimentary workshops in its Alchemy Bar, where guests can learn how to make herbal potions and scrubs in a communal environment.
This article originally appeared in the June/July print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Wellness While Away”).