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Showing posts with label Wellness Tourism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wellness Tourism. Show all posts

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Good Vibrations: Sound Healing Makes Waves in the Wellness Industry

   If you have been noticing more spas offering treatments that incorporate Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, or gongs, you aren’t alone. Sound therapies are starting to make waves in the spa industry.


In the ultra-competitive world of luxury wellness travel, companies need to do more than just offer gorgeous views, great-tasting food, and aromatic gardens. They need to think about sound too.

Increasingly, properties including Hyatt’s Miraval Arizona are employing sound therapy to pull in wellness-oriented customers. The idea is that people’s ears offer a path to relaxation and healing every bit as powerful as eyeballs, nostrils, and fingertips. And companies are citing ancient wisdom known to groups as disparate as Australia’s aborigines (think didgeridoos), Tibetan monks (think singing bowls), and Native Americans (flutes, drums, and rains sticks) as part of healing practices.

“Sound can signal the body to release its own tension and negativity, dropping the brainwave into a meditative state quickly and effectively,” said Pamela Lancaster, a widely regarded guru in the field and “master healer” at Miraval Arizona.

What Miraval Arizona and others are realizing is that sound is a powerful tool in reducing clients’ stress levels, improving their moods, and alleviating pain. And given the hectic, anxiety-ridden world of 2020, more and more travelers are seeking out such restorative treatments.




WHAT’S IN A SOUND?

Proponents of sound therapy call it “vibrational medicine,” arguing that certain systems in our bodies vibrate at different frequencies. If these frequencies get disrupted by ailments like emotional distress or illness, our well-being could be affected.

While efforts to heal through sound therapy is as old as ancient Egypt, scientists have only recently begun to explore its efficacy. The wellness community, however, has been providing sound therapies for more than a decade, with some treatments growing more and more into standard offers.

The offerings include massages that are synchronized to music, listening to the peaceful sounds of “deep nature” and taking in the beauty of Tibetan singing bowl sessions. Tuning forks of varying pitches are thought by some to be a way to “unblock” people’s “stagnant energy,” And so-called “sound baths” — an ancient form of deep meditation — create relaxing, repetitive sounds using musical bowls, cymbals, and gongs.

“An immersion in sound frequency cleanses the soul,” said Robert Lee, a leader at  Eaton DC, a hotel and wellness center in Washington, D.C. “It allows for a recalibration to a deep stillness that we can all access within ourselves.”

In fact, sound can be used to create a sense of stillness that people crave, he added. “While trying to quiet the mind in a quiet room is nearly impossible, sound actually makes meditating easier.”

WHERE SOUND AND TRAVEL OVERLAP

At Miraval Arizona, Lancaster has seen firsthand how much sound can help visitors leave behind their stresses and negativity and settle into a meditative state. The resort offers Vasudhara, a water treatment combining Thai massages with pulsating sounds emanating from underwater speakers. “The body brings itself back into a place of homeostasis,” Lancaster said, about the treatment. “And things have a propensity to begin to heal.”


Vasudhara at Miraval Arizona


Michelle Pirret, a “sonic alchemist” at the Four Seasons New York Downtown, suggested this type of therapy is powerful because the human body is comprised mostly of water. “When frequency is played on the body, cellular water is vibrating,” she said. “This escalates hormonal release and relaxation.”

The Lodge at Woodloch in northeastern Pennsylvania offers a vibrational treatment that uses the sound waves of singing bowls to create a relaxed, meditative state. Its “Gong with the Wind” selection combines yoga and meditation with holistic sound immersion. The acoustics come courtesy of conch shells, bronze gongs, and singing bowls.

Sound Healing Instruments
at The Lodge at Woodloch

Primordial sound meditation is also on the menu at the Chopra Center for Well-Being in California. Guests receive personal mantras, specific sounds or vibrations that help them achieve quieter, more peaceful states of mind.

In Wisconsin, Kohler Waters Spa at The American Club has wet treatment rooms featuring VibraAcoustic bath technology. There, a big bathtub is tricked out with transducers that send vibrations through the water and aimed at opening up lymphatic pathways, said Nikki Miller, director of Kohler Waters Spas.

For companies looking to add sound therapy to their offerings, here is one piece of counterintuitive advice. Rather than just focusing on the noise, resort operators also need to focus on designing spaces for, well, blissful silence. “Creating a soundproof space significantly enhances the effectiveness of the experience,” Lee, of Eaton in Washington, D.C., explained.

“Silence,” he added, “must be given the honor it deserves.”

Monday, August 10, 2020

Shining the Spotlight on Wellness Real Estate

The wellness zeitgeist has been permeating our culture during the past decade. People run around the world in search of wellness practices. At home, they spend spend thousands of dollars a year on SoulCycle and smoothies. Yet, what has been largely overlooked as the movement has exploded is the wellness of one's physical home and the neighborhood that surrounds it.


As most of us have been spending 24/7 inside for the last few months, the realization that home is where the health is has become a reality. Suddenly, there is an understanding that the home environment itself should be healthy and healing, from the quality of the air to the availability of sunlight to the materials used in construction. And, as we take short jaunts around our neighborhoods, we are increasingly appreciating the lure of outdoor features like tree canopy, green spaces, water and walking trails.


Wellness Community, the new lifestyle reality to life a healthy ...
A running trail in Emilia-Romagna's Wellness Valley
Courtesy: Technogym


It's not surprising, then, that many experts predict that this pandemic will change the way people choose to live. Even before COVID, there were studies indicating that lifestyle and environmental factors account for nearly 85 percent of one's health outcomes. It's not a coincidence that during the lockdown, there’s been almost a primordial urge to return to arcadia, in the form of countryside, coastline or mountains.  At the same time, though, in isolation, people are realizing the importance of IRL connection and community.


That is why wellness real estate is set to experience its moment. The wellness real estate sector was already in a nascent state pre-COVID. But post-pandemic, the trend toward buying healthy homes and real estate in wellness communities will grow as more people take into consideration how their living environments support their physical, mental and emotional state of being. 


The Global Wellness Institute has been watching this trend develop over the past decade. According to Build Well to Live Well: Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate and Communities, wellness real estate was a $134 billion worldwide industry in 2017, and, at the time of the report, was expected to grow to $180 billion in 2022. Given that pandemic, expect that number to top $200 billion.


There are several important features of the communities that are actually walking the wellness walk. They include the use of natural and no-VOC materials in construction; the incorporation of biophilic elements in design, and an abundance of unprogrammed outdoor spaces (that means no golf courses and concrete-covered playground areas). A focus on community-building and social connection is another vital element of a true wellness neighborhood, one that is often overlooked by companies that are trying to glom on to the trend without really understanding the importance and the nuances of a holistic approach. This could result, for example, in larger front porches, smaller front yards and more communal spaces.


Over a series of blog posts, I will be exploring the key ingredients that every wellness community worth its salt must sport. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hotels Use Technology and Design to Evolve the Healthy Room

This article originally appeared in the Skift New Luxury Newsletter, for which I am the chief correspondent.
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Can a hotel room make you healthier? The jury is still out, but judging from some recent experiments, there may be more than a nugget of truth to the idea.
A Wellness Room at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
Delos, which pioneered the term “wellness real estate”, introduced the concept of an uber-healthy hotel room at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada back in 2012. It is now bringing its Wellness Rooms to the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. At the same time, Swissôtel is expanding its own version of a healthy room.
In all cases, the idea is to incorporate health-boosting technologies and ambient design elements to improve wellness. We are talking about things like special lighting to counter jet lag, aromatherapy, dawn simulator alarm clocks, special air purification systems and wisdom from Deepak Chopra. Okay, only Delos has Chopra on board. His knowledge, along with that of the Cleveland Clinic, has been incorporated into the programs offered at MGM and Four Seasons.
The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills launched its partnership with Delos at the end of November 2017. Located on the hotel’s spa level, five wellness-themed guest rooms and two suites combine the latest technology from Delos, along with a stylish room aesthetic and the eco-chic features you would expect in L.A.
According to Michael Newcombe, general manager and chair of the company’s Global Spa and Wellness Task Force, the concept has potential to become ubiquitous.  Having a “room product dedicated to supporting a wellness-based lifestyle while on the road… is a choice that hoteliers will have to get used to.”  The concept will be tested through July 1, 2018, at which time guest feedback will be assessed. If guests give the thumbs up, the plan is to add more such rooms at the Beverly Hills property and beyond.
The Vitality Suite at Swissôtel Zurich 
Meanwhile, in Switzerland, a new wellness room concept is taking shape at Swissôtel. The Swissôtel Zurich is still tinkering with its Vitality Suite, which it introduced at the end of 2016. It’s an evolution of the company’s ongoing Vitality program aimed at “inspiring travelers to maintain an active and energized body and mind while on the road.” Until last year, that program had been focused on food and fitness offerings. But according to Lilian Roten, vice president of brand management for Swissôtel and Pullman,  “We realized that we had to bring this vitality focus into the guestroom… to package it up and build a room that would be the embodiment of vitality.”
And so, Swissôtel has reconfigured one of its conventional suites into a hardcore wellness sanctuary. Design elements include hardwood floors, soft color palettes, ergonomically-functional furniture, black-out blinds and bathrooms with spa features like aromatherapy and chromatherapy tubs.
There’s also a great deal of attention paid to allowing guests to personalize their experience. For example, company literature says, “In a first for the hotel industry, circadian light is accommodated on demand. Circadian light features allow light color to change, influencing the secretion of melatonin in the brain, helping travelers overcome jet-lag or lack of sunlight,” along with enhancing the quality of sleep.
The Wellbeing Wall in the Swissôtel Zurich's Vitality Suite 
Meantime, the built-in Wellbeing Wall offers guests a variety of training options, as it contains dumbbells, horizontal bars and cable-pull systems.  A multilingual cyber-trainer via a touch-screen monitor displays exercises geared towards strengthening, stretching, meditation and breathing.
There are plans to develop Vitality Rooms in North America and Asia. The Swissôtel Chicago is slated to be the first hotel outside of Switzerland to introduce the concept, most likely next year. In Asia, the company’s Singapore property will be the first to get an update.
“What we are looking into is evaluating what regional adaptations would be necessary to make rooms relevant for various markets,” said Roten.
At the same time, she notes, certain features will always be mandatory. Among them are floors uncovered by carpet; work areas with adjustable desks with options for standing or sitting; bathroom spa experiences; and a Wellbeing Wall. Inclusion of an air purification system will only be required in cities with air quality indexes above 50 (that’s you, Beijing).
While the Vitality Room per se will be exclusive to Swissotel, Roten says that other AccorHotels brands are likely to incorporate aspects of the concept over time.
Meantime, back in the United States, Delos Stay Well rooms have been introduced to half a dozen Marriott properties on the East Coast during the past year. Should Marriott and AccorHotels fully buy in, healthy rooms may prove to have legs beyond luxury brands.