Kathy Rivard, Director of Spa, Wellness, and Retail, Shou Sugi Ban House (Water Mill, NY)

Photo credit: Kathy Rivard

The increased focus on wellbeing and happiness post-COVID has heightened the importance of physical and mental health, as well as self care, for every one. Our guests tell us that they are looking to invest in experiences and activities that support their health and promote their overall wellbeing. We see that migrating from individual treatments to half- and full-day packages, to now multi-night retreats. Wellness retreats offer guests the ability to disconnect from one’s day-to-day stressors, and unwind and recharge, while focusing on healing, consciousness, personal growth, or a specific interest or activity that supports them mindfully. Retreats can also provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded people in a close, supportive environment with expert practitioners, leaders, and healers.

Insider Tips: Create retreat programs with purpose and engaging experiences that will resonate with current clients, while potentially reaching new like minded guests. Design the architecture and flow of the multi-day itinerary to ensure it is calibrated to account for each activity and transition for a seamless execution. Align with proven, respected instructors and facilitators who share similar philosophies, and who you have worked with in the past, so that you are familiar with their approach and style. When partnering with external facilitators, integrate your resident instructors, practitioners, and chefs where possible, to ensure that you are still delivering the signature experiences your returning guests have come to expect. Stay flex ible and listen to your guests to improve the offering.

Essential Elements: Thoughtfully plan on the time of year, proximity to holidays, and your property’s typical occupancy and staffing levels to ensure best timing and the ability to ex schedules and accommodations as needed. Align retreat expectations and experiences across resident practitioners, external retreat leaders, and other guest-facing teams with concise communications. Define roles and responsibilities when working with new partners, including considerations for planning, pricing, sales, marketing, and promotions. Create welcome and closing rituals to bookend the start and end of the retreat; this could include a dinner, group yoga, a reside chat, or meditation. An unexpected welcome gift is always appreciated and can set the tone for the days ahead, such as a journal, crystals, sage bundle, or a signature or seasonal item that represents your property or the retreat focus.

Vivianne Garcia-Tunon, Vice President of Wellbeing, Auberge Resorts Collection (multiple locations)

Photo credit: Vivianne Garcia-Tunon

Wellness retreats are becoming increasingly popular because guests no longer wish to put their healthy habits on hold while on vacation. These retreats offer an opportunity to enjoy time off while continuing and accelerating personal growth and wellbeing. A wellness retreat creates the perfect social environment to share joy and fulfillment with both new and old friends.

Insider Tips: It is crucial to choose the right retreat leader, someone with years of experience in facilitating large groups. Hosting a successful retreat demands extensive pre-planning for daily activities, shared meals, and free time.

Essential Elements: The most crucial element is having the correct runway for your retreat’s sell-through. The most successful retreats hit the market six months before the travel date. Addition ally, it is important to price the retreat for your target market through a tactical comparative review of the set. Once you establish your runway and market, find a practitioner with a built-in following that can fill at least 50 percent of your allocated room nights.

Pilar Gonzalez, Spa Director, Waldorf Astoria Spa at Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)

Photo credit: Pilar Gonzalez

In a world full of so many artificial things that have dam aged our bodies and trigger disease, humanity’s need to seek natural things and maintain a state of wellbeing of body, mind, and soul is a necessity today.

Insider Tips: We believe that the soul is the beginning of everything. That is why we look for healers who help our guests revive the mind and soul. To prepare each participant for these retreats, we start with fundamental treatments and experiences and work in advice that they can put into practice after leaving the retreat.

Essential Elements: We ensure our healers’ practices and intentions are aligned with the elements and pillars of the Waldorf Astoria Spa. Each therapy and session is carefully curated and intentionally selected to make sure there are maximum benefits that will positively affect our guests. Also, wellbeing is always at the forefront and the north star for everything we incorporate into a retreat and our spa. This motivates us to develop a holistic event with great food, treatments, and healing sessions.

Patrick Schori, General Manager, Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo (Costa Rica)

Photo credit: Patrick Schori

In this fast-paced, demanding world, travelers are looking for moments of Zen, peace, and tranquility, as well as learnings that they can take with them and apply to their everyday lives. Many guests are looking to slow down from their daily life, reset, and restore. Costa Rica has long been a beloved haven for wellness, and our resort perfectly exemplifies this with multi-day wellness retreats, individualized experiences, and treatments designed to cater to guests’ needs, all aimed to educate guests on how to live happier, healthy lives beyond the resort visit.

Insider Tips: The most rewarding wellness experiences offer not only restorative and relaxing elements, but also a sense of place. They should be anchored by the destination and natural surroundings, while also addressing the evolving needs of wellness seekers. Costa Rica is an amazing destination for wellness, rooted in nature and serenity, and is home to one of the world’s few Blue Zones, where inhabitants live well into their 100s.

Essential Elements: First and foremost, we consider what our guests need and want, while simultaneously aligning with the destination. In Costa Rica, we are blessed with incredible natural surroundings, so we leverage this to create an immersive wellness experience infused with the Costa Rican culture.

Laura Rodriguez, Wellness Director, Nayara Resorts (multiple locations)

Photo credit: Laura Rodriguez

The growing emphasis and awareness surrounding mental health have encouraged more people to prioritize their overall wellbeing, placing greater importance on wellness retreats as avenues for rejuvenation and self-improvement outside of their everyday routines.

Insider Tips: To ensure that a wellness retreat provides the most enriching experience for attendees, resorts and spas should prioritize creating an environment that promotes relaxation and comfort. I believe there is a profound influence of the mind on one’s body, so it is important to create a space where one’s mind can be relaxed and open to facilitate mental mastery. Integrating elements of physical, mental, and spiritual wellness is essential for guests to achieve greater mental clarity and emotional alignment. By intertwining these aspects, attendees can embark on a holistic journey toward self-discovery and inner peace.

Essential Elements: We have planned our 2024 retreats to coincide with lunar events. Buddhists believe that these supermoons create a strong energy that enhances concentration and insight, making them powerful times for meditation. Expert instructors have a large role to play, and in our retreats, they lead sessions of yoga, guided meditation, sound healing, and more. The quality of the spa and spa therapists is essential. In our case, our therapists are trained continuously in all the latest trends and techniques and our open-air concept allows the sounds of the rainforest to act as a natural soundtrack. Finally, the role of nutrition is a vital part of the wellness equation.