Pikaia Lodge in Galapago

Tips and Trends from Organic Spa Wellness Event

Get ready to learn about transformative travel

Every year, the editorial director for Organic Spa Magazine, Rona Berg, and her team host a wellness event where brands, properties, and holistic leaders are on hand showcasing the latest treatments, products, and destinations followed by an informative panel discussion.

This year, the two-day event took place over a series of video chats where transformative travel was a big topic of discussion. While we are all looking forward to getting back out on the road, how can we glean the most from the experience and become a more responsible, low-impact traveler at the same time? Here are some key points from the experts.

Great Wellness Escapes

Wellness and adventure escapes are on the rise for getting outside of your comfort zone and challenging yourself while traveling. People are craving nature, fresh air and being outside. Glamping, camping and ranching trips are huge and there has been a 35 percent increase in biking, walking or jogging.

“It’s natural for us to be outdoors and more families want to spend time outside connecting with nature and bonding,” observed Ana Maria Varela of Explora South America. “Guests are looking to live in the moment.” Destinations such as Chile, Patagonia and Easter Island are becoming increasingly popular.

Mii amo in Sedona, Arizona just built a trail house at Enchantment Resort. “We can’t just offer wellness but we need to deliver on the experience,” said General Manager Jim Root, who found that COVID has been a catalyst of positivity in creating new awareness opportunities. “No more drive-by visits to check off your bucket lists but more depth of connection. It’s not a quick transaction but more of a relationship now with guests.”

Berg has noticed a surge in domestic travel and connecting with locals while immersing yourself in the culture. “People are spending two weeks in one place and with larger family groups,” she said. “We’ve all had to slow down and people are looking for ways to heal.”

Enchanment Resort in Sedona, Arizona
ABOVE: Mi iamo Entrance at Enchantment in Sedona, Arizona

Transformative Travel

One of the ways to bolster healing is through taking trips that transform you. The Transformational Travel Council (TTC) is a Seattle-based group of global leaders shaping the future of meaningful tourism. Founded by Jake Haupert and Michael Bennett (Ed. D), this movement of conscious travelers is on a mission to inspire enduring change through transformational travel.

According to TTC co-founder, Haupert, any trip has the potential for transformation – it’s all about engagement and mindset. “Intention and intuition lead to transformation. Go within and look beyond. Opportunity exists around obstacles and challenges that you overcome and lead to transformation. Travel shouldn’t always be easy. There are highs and lows but feeling alive and experiencing cultural challenges, these are experiences that connect and transform us, which can ignite and recharge the soul.”

Jake Haupert and TTC Group on Kilamanjaro
ABOVE: Jake Haupert and TTC Group on Mount Kilimanjaro climb

The journey that inspired Haupert to go down this path was a hike up Moun Kilimanjaro with friends. “That day, on the roof of Africa, we found ourselves, we had tapped newfound wisdom, perspective and zest and appreciation for life and all its beauty. For me, it was clear, I was now on a mission to help others to transform self and society through travel.”

And since transformation through travel can be hard, he co-wrote The Transformational Travel Journal, it is a map, compass, and guide to transforming individually, communally, and societally. “I would say is that travel is more about the “why” and the “how” rather than the “what and where.” So, with that in mind, I am longing to go anywhere that I can dunk my head in a rushing river, smell the spray of the ocean, feel the earth beneath my bare feet, look up and be suspended in disbelief, down sidewalks that lead nowhere, and into conversations that matter,” said Haupert.

Tips for getting the most out of your trip

-The new consensus seems to be, don’t try and pack in too much on your trip and over schedule. You are there to slow down and soak in the surroundings, not be stressed out. Skipping an experience might be just as important.

-Add more wellness to typical spa treatments. It’s physical and mental for the mind, body and spirit. Try sound bowls, journaling, intention-setting classes or experiences found in nature and meditation.

-Transformative travel can also be found in experiences such as forest bathing, walking meditation tours, transplanting trees, taking a hike.

-Travel doesn’t have to mean going a great distance but don’t always expect equilibrium, things are always contracting and changing on a trip.

-Jon Martin, General Manager from The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana suggested” Choose the activity first and then find the destination.”

The Ranch at Rock Creek, Cross Country Biking
ABOVE: Cross Country Biking,
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana

Low Impact, High Experience Travel

Anna Bjurstam of Six Senses is seeing guests delve more into regenerative travel and traveling with a purpose, where you can learn about the community and give back to give your trip a deeper meaning. They recommend starting a purpose journal before you embark. You can also state your intention for your stay before you arrive. Some of the activities include a fire ceremony where you can shed negative objects or a trip to one of their organic farms to pick your own produce and gather eggs from chickens.

Dolores Gangotena De Diez of Expedition in Galapogos Islands specializes in luxury small cruises. For this destination is all about restricting excess in the national parks and not opening more just to keep up with demand. “To be preserved and pristine is to keep the wildlife healthy and well. Education is key to understanding the environment and teaching the youth of the area to make the area sustainable for years to come,” she added.

Laszlo Puczko of Health Tourism Worldwide and Kim Marshall of S’Well public relations are seeing a wave in meaningful, low-impact travel that includes not just offsetting but leaving the site better than when you came such as helping out locals. Think a pet rescue program or a hike where you can also clean up the area.

Anne Biging of Healing Hotels of the World said, “It’s no longer just about destination spas but nourishing in different ways for the whole family.” Remote working, learning and school from the road. “Workcations” such as safaris that can offer a wellness escape, digital detox and some sort of giving back programs like Micato Safaris where you work in a local village on the last day of your trip or Discover Corps that offer archeological trips to Peru.

Tortuga bay Beach, Galapagos
ABOVE: Tortuga Bay Beach, Galapagos

Bouncing Back in 2021

When we spoke to Berg in early 2020, she sighted over-tourism as an issue and that the wellness travel trend would provide a solution by promoting the benefits of tourism destinations that are off the beaten path and she couldn’t have been more spot on with that assessment.

“People can’t wait to hit the road, and it’s clear we will all be traveling with a heightened awareness of how important it is to tread lightly to diminish the effects of over-tourism and pollution on the planet,” said Berg. “What the world has been through this past year will move travelers to be more sensitive to the impact of travel on the natural environment, and on local communities in well-trafficked tourism destinations.”

Berg and the group of experts were not surprised with all the stress of 2020 and isolation that nature is trending, but there is a vast sense of social responsibility. “Wellness needs context, it is not as powerful when it lives in a bubble,” said Berg. “We need to look outside ourselves to find greater connections with people and planet because that is true wellness. We are all connected and the way to get the travel industry travel back is to embrace that.”

More Stories
Where To Stay

Best Glamping Destinations in Baja

Pitching a tent South-of-the-Border

Health & Wellness

DIY Global Wellness Spa Therapies from Top Resorts

Treat yourself in the comfort of your own home.

Get the Latest Stories

Receive the latest stories, event invitations, local deals and other curated content from Paradise. Subscribe Now
By clicking the subscribe button, I agree to receive occasional updates from Paradise.