Is This The Future of Wellness, Travel, Spa & Beauty in Europe?

MIAMI, United States – The Global Wellness Summit, an annual conference for international leaders in the wellness industry, has announced its latest predictions for the future of wellness, travel, spa and beauty in Europe.

Forecasting the trends that will influence the wellness industry throughout Europe, experts including CEOs of top travel, spa and beauty companies, leading economists and researchers, will explore the predictions at the 10th annual Global Wellness Summit later this year.

“Europe pioneered the holistic wellness concept. It attracts more than half of the world’s international tourist arrivals, and is the largest spa, wellness tourism and beauty market in the world,” explained Susie Ellis, 2016 GWS co-chair and board member.

“But while Europe has long been far ahead in wellness, other regions are fast catching up, so the focus needs to be on the future and innovation.”

Tackling new wellness-led legislations, the surge in innovative wellness properties and the emergence of high-tech approaches to wellbeing, read on to discover which emerging trend has the potential to influence the way your business interacts and engages with the wellness industry.

Investment and Innovation

According to Sue Harmsworth, Founder & Chairman of ESPA International and Anna Bjurstram, VP of Spas & Wellness, Six Senses; when it comes to wellness, for centuries Europe has led the category.

Inventing today’s wellness concept that extends beyond the spa, to include nutrition, fitness, traditional medicine and mindfulness, in recent years the region has become stagnant.

However, both agree that in the coming years, Europe will (and must) focus on re-invigorating European wellness through private investment in older, once-state-sponsored European spas, as well as new wellness retreat concepts.

From design-led medi-spas to new wellness communities built around “social spa-ing”, the European spa industry is set to evolve dramatically.

New Legislations

Following the announcement of a new sugar tax in the UK, Thierry Malleret, co-founder and author of the Monthly Barometer says that other European countries will also take action, as new laws expand to include “bad” fats, high salt and highly processed foods.

Fighting back against new legislations, European food and beverage manufacturers will reduce the amount of sugar in their products to pre-empt governments, as they rebrand/re-engineer their products around the concept of “healthy” or “wellness” foods.

Nestlé, Europe’s biggest corporation and the world’s largest food company has already begun redefining itself as a scientifically-driven “nutrition, health and wellness company.” While an explosion of innovate new entrants have begun to enter the soft drinks category in an attempt to advantage of the new regulations.

Read More: The Sugar Tax: What It Means For Wellness Startups

Wellness Travel/Eastward Wellness

As tourism continues to have a strong economic impact in Europe, wellness tourism is set to grow even faster.

The Global Wellness Institute research estimates a 7.3% annual growth rate between 2012-2017, with Southern Europe dominating the region.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, Former President of the World Travel & Tourism Council, argues that European wellness seekers will increasingly ‘head east’ to the Baltic and Black Seas, as the region undergoes exciting wellness resort development.

Boasting an incredible, centuries-old, spa and bathing culture, Baumgarten says the modernization of huge, former Soviet medical-wellness health resorts will form new communities, while wellness travellers craving new, hyper-authentic experiences, will head to the region to reconnect with nature.

Stress Relief

As European consumers continue to face an unprecedented amount of stress due to 24/7 digital connection, the increase in desire for digital detoxes, uncompromising peace and quiet, and the need to be close to the forces of nature will influence wellness and spa resorts moving forward, says Dr. Franz Linser,  Founder of Linser Hospitality.

Shifting their focus from glitzy, amenity-driven, “exotic” luxury to meet these powerful needs, everything – from resort design/environments, guest rooms, spa treatments and fitness experiences – will shift to intense authenticity and nature.

Equal parts spectacular, yet simple, Linser says wellness retreats will appear on top of mountains, deep in the woods and snow, on the water, and in the form of everything from treehouses to houseboats.

Spas, treatments and saunas will emerge from the basement to burst out into the trees as new ‘nature cocoons’. While the new luxury; sleeping in a glass igloo, wrapped in reindeer skins, with the Northern Lights sparkling above, will emerge to give Europeans what they most desperately seek.

The future of wellness
Image: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort


Wellness Staycations

Anna Bjurstram, VP of Spas & Wellness at Six Senses; argues that the “wellness staycation” concept, which has been popular in Scandinavian countries for some time, will now spread across the rest of Europe.

As consumers increasingly embrace shorter experiences, ‘Mini-kurs’ that pack in two to three hour bathing rituals, spa treatments, nutritious food, movement, relaxation, and meditation (in small bites) will also begin to trend.

From the Tylösand Hotel & Spa in Sweden to the new Canyon Ranch in Turkey, consumers will increasingly embrace these much shorter, but still transformational “just being” experiences everywhere.

Beauty From The Inside Out

According to Jacqueline Clarke, Wellness Research Director at Diagonal Reports, a dramatically different philosophy and aesthetic is set to shake up the marketing strategies and sales monopolies of the big cosmetic/skincare houses in Europe, as they respond to new consumer attitudes surrounding beauty from the inside out.

Inspiring new categories that will recast beauty as self-care and prevention vs “cosmetic repair”, Clarke argues that a dizzying array of functional solutions will emerge, along with a boom in the natural organic generally products.

But it’s not all bad news for traditional skincare and cosmetics companies, as existing brands will leverage wellness to create a new mega-category: healthcare for the skin.

Clarke says, in the future almost every European company will adopt a wellness-as-beauty vocabulary and approach, and crucially, with the shift to beauty-as-wellness, greater emphasis will be placed on evidence.

The future of wellness
Image: Herbivore

High-Tech Beauty

As high-tech, device-driven beauty procedures pick up speed in the Americas and Asia, Europe is taking notice.

According to Michael Schummert, CEO at Babor GmbH & Co., we will begin to see European hotel spas offer sophisticated “I-want-results-immediately” treatments using all types of cutting-edge technology.

Schummert says, what might start with a computer precisely analyzing your skin condition, will be followed by an intensive microdermabrasion peel, ultrasound or needling.

At European spas, a “holistic” approach won’t just mean adding yoga, meditation or nutrition to massage, it will mean adding high-tech beauty to the already high-touch menus.

However, he argues that  the international differences will remain. While Asia and the U.S. are embracing ever-more-invasive procedures, Central Europe, for example, is only getting accustomed to microdermabrasion and ultrasound. And with the European beauty consumer, a unique balance will need to be struck: they want high-impact results, but typically won’t accept any downtime after a treatment.

Wellness, Wellbeing & Happiness

With the terms happiness, wellness and wellbeing firmly planted on the global stage, confusion surrounding the difference between ‘wellness’ and ‘wellbeing’ and their correlation to happiness will increase.

Susie Ellis, Chairman & CEO, Global Wellness Institute, argues that Europe has much to teach the world about wellness, wellbeing and happiness, and the growing distinction between the concepts.

As wellness becomes increasingly associated with health and prevention, Ellis says wellbeing will begin to align with happiness.

In a world where wellness has become a massive, so, heavily commercialised, market, there’s a temptation to move on to a fresh, big word, but Europe especially, as the pioneer of holistic wellness, should embrace wellness – staying true to the prevention mantle that will be so important for the region, and the world, argues Ellis.