Any time there is a global health disaster – usually once in a century – there are consequential paradigm shifts in many fields. In other words, what seemed meaningful before the disaster seems not so much anymore. Conversely, what seemed normal and usual, now takes on an importance it never had before.
This change, more of a seismic shift than average change, dealt with impact—loss of life, businesses shuttering, polarizing politics, racial injustices, and a growing mental wellness crisis—all made this Mid-Year Global Wellness Trends Report: The Future of Wellness 2021, more of a cognitive challenge than ever before.
Thus, the 2021 GWS Trends Report has worked to capture paradigm shift consequences as it reflects new thought perspectives of global economists, academics, futurists, and CEOs of international corporations within the $4.5 trillion wellness economy.
But this article is a precis only, highlighting two of the nine trends. The Status Life has chosen these trends as they directly impact the luxury travel and wellness dimensions we report on daily.
Trend 1: Immunity Travel.
It’s clear that immunity travel is becoming its own category (like mindfulness or weight loss) in wellness travel. In the pandemic’s early days, many dimensions felt more like accessorized add-ons: whether it was Equinox Hotels putting “Immune Protect” supplement packs in their minibars or other resorts serving “immune-boosting” menus and immune drips/IVs. Destinations are now going farther—often medically–—in their immune health programming, with programs designed to help people recover from COVID-19. While there’s still a lot of “immune-boosting” language, more programs are focusing on approaches that align with a new concept: immune system balancing.
As an example, Germany’s medical-wellness destination Buchinger Wilhelmi’s new Immunity+ program has fasting and microbiome health at its core but also includes a battery of diagnostic testing to assess everything from guests’ metabolic, to guests’ immune system profiles – both in order to prescribe a deeply personalized treatment plan.
Sangha Retreat by Octave Institute in China has a new program using medical testing for everything from metabolic to immune to sleep health to prescribe an immune-strengthening treatment and nutrition plan. Resorts are also going deep to help people who have had COVID return to health, such as Lanserhof’s programs in Germany, Austria, and London, using an arsenal of tests and medical-wellness approaches.
The Financial Times recently explored a new type of wellness destination focused on “molecular medicine,” whose goal is to build “bioresilience…at the level of the cell”—to delay aging and enhance immunity.
Bioresilence looks to be a 2021 important concept. London’s BelleCell offers a slate of tests (DNA, metabolic, microbiome, telomere) to create tailored wellness, nutrition and immune health regimes and uses futuristic, biohacking tech like IV laser therapy (an energy medicine) and hyperbaric oxygen chambers to target the immune system. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (breathing in nearly pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber) is an interesting technology to watch.
Microbiome therapy is another trend dimension garnering strength and interest. With 70% of our immune system headquartered in our “gut,” a healthy microbiome gut becomes radically more important. An outrageously complex system, researchers are trying to crack the microbiome code, and testing will get better, with AI and machine-learning helping apply one’s serpentine gut data for a set of personalized nutrition objectives and goals.
A new study from Tel Aviv University showed that three months of regular treatments led to up to a 38% increase in telomere length in the DNA of immune cells and a decrease of up to 37% in old, deteriorating immune cells, indicating a reversal in aging and immunosenescence processes.
Because programs at a wellness travel destination are explicitly designed for immune health, because the four pillars of wellness (healthy eating, sleep health, stress-reduction, exercise) are the pillars for immune resilience, more people will seek wellness travel in multiple other areas as well.
New temperature contrast therapy technologies are also becoming part of wellness resorts: If the Finns always take a roll in the snow post-sauna, TechnoAlpin’s Snow Room at the Hotel Gartner in South Tyrol, Italy will make the experience “dry” and more comfortable by bringing snowfall indoors.
And, after a long year, people are more aware that their immune health is a holistic, needful experience that food and the microbiome health are benchmarks, and that “slow” rather than “hyper” immune health strategies are those that made the difference.
In the near future, the medical world, after the dire lessons of the pandemic, will be more focused on metabolic and microbiome health, with investment in new research and technologies. Research labs and start-ups are busy, whether Stanford’s Microbiome Therapies Initiative or Predict, undertaking the world’s largest scientific nutrition studies with epidemiologists from major research organizations such as Harvard, King’s College London, and Sweden’s Lund University. A wellness industry newly focused on the hard— and fast-evolving—immune science may extend and ultimately save many lives.
Trend 2. Architecture of the Spirit
Architecture is a powerful influence on wellbeing, as it simultaneously impacts all senses and each of the Dimensions of Wellness mentioned above while making up 90% of our surroundings over the course of our lifetime. In recent years, cross-disciplinary studies show how the built environment impacts our hormone production, inflammation, gut and respiratory health, stress level, immunity to diseases and viruses, cognitive performance, social interactions and relationships, and emotional wellbeing, all relating to emergent and sustainable wellness and spiritual wellbeing.
The power of this architectural change lies in its departure from an outward-looking consumer-oriented, ostentatious faddism to a more subtle, potent ability to effectuate regenerative, transcendental experiences.
As the values shift toward a new, emerging way of spiritual practices, architecture’s role becomes evident in both faith-based architecture and everyday architecture. It is finally realized those who live in buildings are not separate from them: the design influences the inhabitants in terms of mood, and also may tap into a degree of spirituality also.
Whether it’s a backyard sanctuary or a balcony, nature is being recognized as the ultimate wellness touchpoint for facilitating deeper connections, clarity, and inspiration.
Biophilic design is an excellent example: bringing the inside out has become an urban mediation point of its own. Living walls become natural, multisensory experiences seen in hotels, residences, and in shopping centers.
However, beyond the urban is suburban, and many are re-thinking the spaces they live in, starting with their home. This concept has helped propel the home office into a multipurpose space with the “office” function taking a smaller space to make room for larger concepts; meditation, yoga, or whatever grounding practices people choose to integrate into their daily lives. The past months have shown individuals can create numinous moments in their daily life by designating intentional space for spiritual practices – all of which may allow them to slow their pace, re-balance the mind and body, and harmonize the past with the immediate present.
Image Source: Global Wellness Summit