WELNESS SPOTLIGHT
The World’s Wellness Rebound 
A story by Sarah Casewit

How the pandemic is shaking up the wellness industry.

If we can collectively agree on one thing, it's that the world has reached an unprecedented global stress level in the past couple years that has brought us together in a mutual struggle to stay sane. The macrocosmic angst stemming from an obnoxious pandemic caught us all off guard, abruptly cutting us off from basic freedoms we took for granted. In the realm of travel, the pandemic canceled the concept of a “last-minute” getaway to soothe a burn-out, or the “surprise” destination trip for your best friend, or the multi-generational family gathering in a glamorous city, or even the wellness retreat with hands-on care to rejuvenate our senses distraught from day-to-day life.

Perhaps in the year 5 BC (Before Covid), a stressful life event might have been soothed by a good swim-up bar with distant waves crashing to the drumbeat of a funky band. But in 2022, year 2 AC that is, we’re going to need a stronger dose of repose to get rid of these double knots that 2020 has worked into our trapezius and the trauma that has set into our psyche from endless lockdowns.

True enough, travelers used to turn to well-being retreats for a chance to unplug and reset physically. It was a luxury, a “treat yourself” remedy. Sure, but not today. The definition of "wellness" has taken on a new level of intensity and has expanded to serve the purpose of balming our global PTSD. People's understanding of wellness now goes well beyond a fancy spa and an infinity pool. It’s now a screaming need to recenter; an all-encompassing theme that explores the healing elements of physical and mental treatments, as well as spirituality, using methods that spill into even cuisine and art therapy.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, “the wellness market grew to a record $4.9 trillion in 2019 and then fell to $4.4 trillion in the pandemic year of 2020. But with a consumer ‘values shift’ underway, the future of the wellness market is incredibly bright, predicted to grow 10% annually through 2025.”

So, it appears that there is no longer any need to dwell on the ugly because today, there is hope and with that hope comes a new appreciation for how we care for ourselves. Indeed (if you dare to believe it) there is some form of glimmering light at the end of the tunnel, be it faint yet constant. In the world of wellness travel, this new understanding translates to a revamped set of properties with wellness programs that suit the needs of pandemic-affected travelers. The revived offerings are more in line with the demand for holistic selfcare, mental health and wellbeing, surrounded by calm, wide open spaces with a sensitivity towards nature. Resulting from the pandemic, these needs from travelers are being met to the highest standards by new retreats and refurbished wellness centers that have deconstructed the traditional spa concept and turned it into a wholesome experience.

Here, we're uncovering six holistic wellness retreats around the world – with offerings from mental coaching to ancient spring water rituals – designed to soothe travellers, heal their senses and get inspired to tackle the “new normal” with a strong sense of self.
Joali Being, Maldives
Esin Gural Argat, owner at JOALI BEING, wanted to create the first island retreat in the Maldives that is completely focused on wellbeing and not as an add-on amenity. On this white sand beach paradise of Bodufushi in the Indian Ocean, every guest goes through a comprehensive reservations process to be assigned their very own naturopath, therapist, movement specialist and nutritionist. This team of experts helps the guest reach their wellbeing goals with access to some of the world’s most advanced scientific therapies, diagnostic services and alternative treatments, based on scientific approach concentrating on the four pillars of Mind, Skin, Energy and Microbiome. The intention for Argat is that her guests take what they’ve experienced at JOALI BEING and incorporate them into their daily lives for a balanced and full life.
As international travel restrictions become more clear and dependable, JOALI BEING welcomes visitors from all over the world looking to actively relax in the Maldives. Having just recently opened their doors this past November, JOALI BEING seems to sparkle with its biophilic design approach to interior design, soft monotones and colorful tropical gardens. Don’t be surprised to see a 28-night stay offering: when your eyes land on the retreat’s photos and videos, it makes complete sense.

Palazzo Fiuggi, a historical building dating back to 1913, proudly stands in Italy's most renowned spa town, Fiuggi, in central Italy. Thanks to its ideal location just one hour south of Rome, Fiuggi is known for its detoxifying spring water, acqua di Fiuggi. The miraculous spring has been used in Italy since the 14th century and is famous for its natural healing properties both locally as well as internationally.
Lorenzo Giannuzzi, founder of the recently opened Palazzo Fiuggi Wellness Medical Retreat, identified a gap in the market for a wellness retreat that focuses on strengthening the immune system and cellular regeneration of the body and mind. “We are passionate about maximizing guests’ long-term health,” he said, “and we have been through years of scientific and medical research in order to develop pioneering ways to do this.” Indeed, his dazzling property offers some of the world’s leading technologies in wellness, including the latest infrared technology for brain health and sleep, retinal scanning and diagnostic testing.
The state of the art wellness retreat has pandemic-inspired programs like their “anti-Covid-19 check-up” to bolster your immune system and get you prepped for the next variant — just kidding? Although Giannuzzi and his team of wellness experts can’t promise full cures, their objective is to prevent their guests from getting sick, just as their motto rightfully says, “Longer Life, Better Lived”. Giannuzzi bravely says the pandemic has an upside: “People are looking to reconnect with themselves and their loved ones and really want to focus on self-care and their health now more than ever. Covid-19 has been a huge wake-up call for everyone and those who may have not ever considered a wellness retreat before are now embracing our life changing programmes.” 
Palazzo Fiuggi, Italy
Palmaïa, The House of Aïa, Mexico
Somewhere on the Riviera Maya in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula sits Palmaïa - The House of AïA, a forward thinking beach enclave designed by Alex Ferri, founder, to reflect the lessons he learnt on his journey to optimal health. The retreat is for guests looking to explore and experiment with the everchanging offerings at Palmaïa - The House of AïA, with plant-based cuisine, sustainability at its core and intentional design to complement the overall experience. The turquoise water of the Caribbean doesn’t hurt either, especially with a Mexican cocktail in hand, under the protective shade of massive palms.
Pinned on the progressive end of the wellness travel spectrum, this stay is an all-in-one retreat for both wellness trips and barefoot workations — the current record is a 4-month stay and counting. Their offerings are varied and unique, to say the least, with cacao ceremonies, soul readings and other experimental sessions with their “Architects of Life Programme”.
When asked if he sees a spike in wellness travel post-pandemic, Ferri rightfully responded: “I don't have any evidence they are, but I hope more people can question how we have been living in the developed world and find a new way to live a healthier life, not just for ourselves but for the planet and everything that surrounds us.”

Opening its doors just before the pandemic hit, Euphoria Retreat was ahead of the curve with its wellness selection. The founder, Marina Efraimoglou, shared her story about how the retreat came about. “After overcoming cancer twice in my late 20s and suffering exhaustion and burn out in the world of investment banking,” said Marina, “I sought to bring balance into my life through study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Five Elements and other alternative health methods.” Inspired by her own medical recovery, she sought to create a healing space where guests can be gently motivated and guided into living a more holistic and balanced life, with an inclination towards spirituality.
On her personal journey to better health, Marina visited many healing centers and spas around the world and none seemed to hit the mark and fulfill her true needs. She then turned to her own heritage for answers. “The ancient Greek philosophers viewed life as joyful, sensual, and full of exciting potential for growth; the Greek word ‘Euphoria’ is about living and feeling ‘well’. That is how Euphoria Retreat was born.”
By combining age-old holistic healing techniques with some of the latest scientific advances, Euphoria Retreat sets a new blueprint for restoring physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance. “Euphoria Retreat is the perfect antidote needed to refresh world-weary spirits,” promises Marina. “Whether you are seeking to set new health goals, change your perspective and connect with your inner healer or simply feel more joy, Euphoria is a portal for meaningful change and a chance to fall back in love with life and with yourself”.
The COVID-19 circus had its say in the offerings and programs set in place at Euphoria Retreat, of course. The treatments now include expressive dance to expel trapped negative emotions, a floatation session to recalibrate the senses and a Qigong energize exercise to reset the body. “In addition, journaling and mandalas help guests to set their intentions for the future and a sense of play is encouraged via forest treasure hunts and picnics.” It comes to no surprise that the most popular program today is the Immunity Reset that combines medical testing with personalized nutrition, body workouts and detoxifying outdoor activities to support a healthy immunity and introduce a new daily routine to the lives of the participants.
“‘Spartan Spirit of Adventure’ is also very popular, especially with our male guests – I think because it combines an element of fitness, which is inspired by ancient Greek warriors of Sparta. It provides a chance to burn off pent up stress and energy and at the same time really enjoy the nature and sights around Euphoria.” Sign me up!
Euphoria Retreat, Greece
 Sha Wellness Clinic, Spain & Mexico
Lefay Resort & SPA
SHA Wellness Clinic was one of the first blockbusters in the wellness industry back in 2008, paving the way for the rest of the retreats by starting in Spain and now in Mexico. Similar to Euphoria Retreat’s touching story, SHA was born after the owner’s transformative personal experience involving many years of medical issues and faced with a troubling diagnosis. Alfredo Bataller Parietti miraculously recovered his health thanks to integrative medicine, heavily focused on healthy nutrition practices. Amazed by the impact a good meal and alternative therapies have on health, Bataller has a calling for SHA.
Expanding to Mexico is a move that the Bataller family studied for some time and decided on recently based on the consumer demand to place health and wellbeing at the forefront of all areas of life, be it business or personal. After over 10 years of success in Spain, SHA is considering to open a property on every continent but with the pandemic, their first move is to the Quintana Roo state of Cancun, across the bay from Isla Mujeres, just 30 minutes drive from Cancun’s international airport. The new SHA Mexico will stay true to the brand’s principles steeped in sustainability and the use of natural construction materials and renewable energy resources. In addition to the wellbeing vision of SHA, the Bataller family is keen on minimizing the environmental impact that wellness retreats are often disassociated with.
Located on seven hectares of abundant flora and fauna, just steps away from a long stretch of white sandy beach, SHA Mexico Wellness Clinic will incorporate the ancient secrets of the Mayas, who declared Isla Mujeres a sacred place to worship the goddess Ixchel, goddess of fertility. According to SHA’s team, the minimum duration to achieve a noticeable result is 7 days and 14 days more visible results. For certain health goals, they have designed 21-day programs, like the popular Detox programme.
The Lefay sister properties, Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti, and Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda are located on Lago Di Garda, a pristine lake fringed with green forests and charming towns, and in the snow-covered Dolomites, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the resorts extend to a wide variety of offerings and guests needs beyond wellness, the Spa at both Lefay properties is a cornerstone of their attraction; they refer to their SPA’s as “wellness temples where the senses and the soul are regenerated.”
Boasting their own line of cosmetics and treatment products “Tra Suoni e Colori”, Lefay SPAs are famously enormous to fulfill the needs of all guests. They offer a wide variety of indoor and outdoor aquatic areas combined with a mineral dimension found in the salt-water lake. Their temperature circuit is designed according to Lefay’s SPA Method with different levels of heat and humidity, dedicated phyto- and aromatherapies and treatments designed by the in-house Scientific Committee no less. The innovative wellness method stems from the blending of Classical Chinese Medicine with Western Scientific Research, a union that is found in all of their programs.
The Director of Sales at Lefay, Manola Fresta, said it right: “COVID-19 has introduced a new vision in regards to prevention and health. Guests are more aware about the importance of looking after themselves, about preventing, instead of curing.”
Sarah Casewit 
                          
Sarah is a seasoned travel writer and photographer with a professional background in the luxury travel industry and business development. She has spent most of her life living and working internationally, including Morocco, Argentina and India. Writing is a means for Sarah to express her deep appreciation for travel and how it has the potential to change our perception of others and ourselves. Sarah currently lives in Mallorca, Spain.

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