Third Space Taps Into Multi-Billion Dollar Wellness Tourism Market

LONDON, United Kingdom — Luxury London fitness club Third Space is launching its first wellness escape, following the lead of fitness operators Equinox, BLOK and Another_Space in capitalising on the boom in wellness tourism. 

This November, the 16-year-old brand is launching its first in a series of Third Space Escapes, starting with a four-night retreat to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. 

Developed in conjunction with Third Space’ master trainers Luke Barnsley and Clare Walters, the five-day trip, ranging from £640 to £1,900 per person excluding flights, will include yoga, meditation, myofascial release therapy, HIIT classes and hikes in the Ourika Valley. Guests will also have access to Moroccan cooking classes, nutrition workshops with Natural Fitness Food and 5* accommodation at the Kasbah Bab Ourika hotel. 

“Third Space Escapes are a natural extension of our lifestyle proposition,” said Lauren Wilson, Marketing Director of Third Space. “The trip will be about rebooting mind and body, as well as sharing moments that will last a lifetime,” she added.

An official statement from the brand, meanwhile, explained that the concept of introducing travel for its members was “part of the premium operator’s considered strategy in creating the best in class lifestyle experiences and training”.

Despite Third Space’ news, established fitness brands have been slow to jump on the trend of wellness experiences overseas, with the likes of independent operators such as Helios Retreats leading the market, having run a series of getaways at luxurious destinations around the world since 2015.

According to founder Hugo Martini Mensch since its launch, the brand has increased its year-on-year revenue from £19k to £160k, and 2019/2020 is forecast to be its highest year in gross revenue yet. The business is already close to generating £200k with half of its business tax year still ahead of it, he told Welltodo.

“2019 has been our busiest year to date, 90% of our retreats have been operating at maximum capacity and we have received a higher than ever amount of enquires and pre-bookings for next year,” he revealed.

But competition is slowly starting to heat up.

The team behind Third Space has already taken steps to enter the wellness tourism market. Its private equity firm owners Encore Capital also launched standalone fitness concept Another_Space in 2016, which hosted its first retreat to the Greek island of Mykonos last year, with prices ranging from £1,570 to £1,904 per person for five days. 

More recently, boutique operator BLOK – which first launched in northeast London’s Clapton in 2016 – ran its first wellness retreat this July in Bordeaux, taking over a former cognac estate for seven days of fitness, yoga and food

Read More: London Fitness Boutique BLOK To Launch In Manchester

Following the success of the retreat, which saw 16 of its clients joining BLOK trainers for seven nights at the Maison De La Vaure with a programme of fitness and yoga, the brand plans to run another next August. 

The rising trend of retreats around the world is evidence of the growth in wellness tourism which, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), was a $639 billion global market in 2017, up 6.5% over the previous two years and growing more than twice as fast as general tourism. 

According to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor, travellers made 830 million wellness trips in 2017, 139 million more than in 2015, with Asia making the most gains in the number of wellness trips and wellness tourism expenditures. 

Despite the disruption affecting Europe with Britain’s protracted exit from the European Union, the continent recorded the highest number of wellness trips (both inbound and domestic) with 292 million in 2017, ahead of Asia-Pacific (258 million) and North America (204 million). 

Other key trends highlighted by the report found wellness travellers spend more per trip than the average tourist. In 2017, international wellness tourists on average spent $1,528 per trip, 53% more than the typical international tourist, while domestic wellness expenditure was 178% more than the amount spent by a typical domestic tourist. 

According to the GWI, wellness tourism is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 7.5% through to 2022, considerably faster than the 6.4% annual growth forecast for overall global tourism. 

Global wellness tourism expenditure is also expected to accelerate, reaching over $919 billion in 2022, representing 18% of the global tourism market, with wellness tourism trips to grow by 8.1% annually to 1.2 billion trips in 2022. 

In recognition of the rising challenge coming from health clubs and boutique studios, world-leading hotel operators have been buying firms focused on wellness.

Read More: Hyatt Hotels Zones In On Wellness With Miraval Acquisition

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) earlier this year acquired luxury wellness resort brand Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas for $300 million. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts (Hyatt) meanwhile acquired boutique wellness and fitness brand Exhale in 2017 for an undisclosed amount, having already acquired US wellness resort brand Miraval for $375 million that same year.  

By weaving wellness more prominently into their brand DNA, the hope is that they can add enough value to their propositions so that existing customers don’t look elsewhere.

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