INDUSTRY REPORT: Wellness-Themed vs. Wellness Hospitality

In the industry report Wellness-Themed vs. Wellness Hospitality, Horwath HTL Health & Wellness clarifies some of the key industry terms and outline characteristics of wellness-themed hospitality solutions versus true wellness developments.

“A true wellness resort is more than just a place to relax and shed a few pounds; it is a place to make transformative life changes that last well beyond the vacation.”

- Thomas Klein, President, Canyon Ranch

With the rise of the global wellness industry, many hospitality companies increasingly incorporate various elements of wellness into their product and service offering. The reality is that merely highlighting healthy features or amenities is ‘well-washing’ and confuses developers and consumers alike.

In the industry report Wellness-Themed vs. Wellness Hospitality, Horwath HTL Health & Wellness clarifies some of the key industry terms and outlines characteristics of wellness-themed hospitality solutions versus true wellness developments.

Three Takeaways for Hoteliers

  1. The need to properly define a true wellness experience

To place the health and wellbeing of wellness travelers at center stage, today’s hospitality operators are required to think one step ahead.

As wellness is no longer about a spa or a fitness center only, but rather about the impact the experience at the property has on the guest’s wellbeing – during the stay and beyond - hospitality experts have to take into account multiple dimensions including the choice of materials, usage of biophilic design, incorporating wellness into the overall master plan, and creating social spaces for guests to connect and engage.



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  1. No one size fits all: how to classify wellness resorts?

Most of the acclaimed global leaders in wellness hospitality fall somewhere in-between the definition of a traditional resort and a wellness resort, with only a handful of properties qualifying as true wellness resorts and targeted wellness programming retreats.

The report identifies five main types of wellness resorts:

  1. Spiritual and mind-based development,
  2. Fully immersive health and wellness environment,
  3. Traditional and alternative medicine-focused experience,
  4. Spa-like treatments, healthy gourmet food and an abundance of outdoor sports activities,
  5. Aesthetic treatments-focused development.

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  1. Developing a wellness resort

When developing a wellness resort, it is essential that both the owner’s and the developer’s visions are aligned with the operator’s brand strategy and operating philosophy.

This includes a concept strategy that is operable and commercially viable. Within this process, a series of operating criteria must be developed to ensure that the proposed wellness resort development strategy makes commercial sense and appeals to the targeted audience.

The location may be of secondary importance. As guests typically travel to a wellness resort for a specific purpose, creating an oasis that is rooted in authenticity, programming, and healthy dining options should be provided to service an entire stay. These are crucial elements associated with wellness resorts. Authenticity and a genuine guest experience take center stage while luxury is not necessarily the priority.

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Ingo Schweder
About the author

Ingo Schweder, Managing Director & Founder of Horwath HTL Health & Wellness, and CEO & Founder of GOCO Hospitality, the world’s leading wellness hospitality design, development, and management company.

Ingo Schweder brings more than 30 years of experience from the fields of spa and hospitality, and has been involved in the design, development and worldwide operation of numerous iconic hotels and wellness destinations.

About the author

Fabian Modena, Manager - Horwath HTL Health & Wellness.

Fabian plays an instrumental role in the research and development of bespoke wellness-centric hospitality and mixed-use development feasibility studies.Before joining Horwath HTL, Fabian worked as the Assistant Manager of Hotel Development with Orascom Hotels & Development. He was involved in the development of all luxury hotels and resorts in Oman, Montenegro, Morocco, Egypt, and Switzerland. Prior to his engagement in the development industry, Fabian began his hospitality career with the Ritz-Carlton Hotels in China and Thailand.

About the author

Krystyna Stadnyk, Consultant.

Krystyna is primarily responsible for the development of market research and feasibility studies, business plans, and client presentations for wellness-centric hospitality projects and mixed-use real estate developments. Krystyna holds a BA in Hospitality Management with Real Estate Finance and Revenue Management from Glion Institute of Higher Education, Switzerland, and a Certificate in Hotel Industry Analytics from American Hotel and Lodging Association. Krystyna is a member of Eta Sigma Delta International Hospitality and Tourism Management Honor Society.