Wellness has evolved away from spa facilities being located in a remote basement or distant building to being part of every area of every development and every aspect of a guest’s stay and, increasingly, your team’s working day.
Nicholas Clayton, president, GOCO Hospitality Management, The Americas, told the ILHA webinar on wellness in the luxury segment: “Mental health and the state of mindfulness is something that has never gone out of fashion. But it’s been elusive for a lot of people.
“Today, we see this opening up more, and more people want to control their anxiety, or be in the moment more effectively. Spirituality and mental health have become two big factors for people when they travel and when we consult with developers on wellness-oriented facilities, we like to think about the spaces that we create for people, both public and private.
“We want to help them create the correct lighting, the ventilation, the ambiance of certain areas to really help people to have these silent moments, to do breath work, mental-health work and spirituality.
“We want to have wellness washed through the entire experience. So you think about what kind of fruit trees to plant, what to have in your public spaces, where do you place water stations and hydration and shade. Where do you create walking spaces and activities that people can do very easily, whatever the age group. So it’s not really just the spa or just the fitness centre, it’s the integration of wellness through the development of an entire resort community.”
Along with the increased focus on spirituality and integration, wellness is seeing growth in therapies which have previously been found in a more clinical setting.
Daniel Fryer, psychotherapist, speaker, hypnotherapist, and best-selling self-help author, said: “A number of hotel groups are bringing more skills-based offerings into their wellbeing programmes.
“Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, CBT, Mindfulness-Based CBT, positive psychology are now available alongside your spas, and your massages, and your hot stone therapies. You are coming into your holiday and as well as being de stressed with all those traditional wellness offerings, you are being taught valuable tools and techniques that will help you mitigate your stress once you return to your stressful environment.
“The problem when you have a beautiful, wonderful wellness holiday, is that you come back glowing with peace and calm and serenity. And that normally gets ruined by lunchtime because you’re right back in it, you’ve got 7,000 emails to answer and a backlog of other work and so it all disappears rapidly. Whereas if you can teach people valuable skills to mitigate their stress more effectively, that wellbeing post-holiday glow lasts a lot longer. It’s about bringing in tools and techniques from different therapeutic modalities that you can teach to your guests while they are there so that they can take them away with them.”
Clayton agreed, adding: “The guest’s needs can be identified through an assessment process that takes place at the beginning of their stay. They would be interviewed, perhaps by a naturopath, who might ask questions around feelings of high levels of stress or anxiety and if they answer ‘yes’, they become a potential candidate for not only physical activities, but also mental things.”
Workplace stress is not limited to guests, but teams as well and increasingly, employers in the hotel sector are addressing the issue.
Fryer said: “I like the idea of reciprocity. I like wellbeing programmes not just for people in spas, but for your staff. And for it to be effective, it needs to be the same as we are talking about for guests: clinics that give you tools to mitigate your stress.
“Happy staff will pass on that sense of happiness in numerous ways to the guests and that naturally elevates their well being so they become happier guests. Wellbeing is like a positive feedback loop.”
Katrin Melle, regional vice president DEI & Talent, Hyatt, EAM, addressed the importance of creating such a culture at work and having it run through the core of a company’s values. She said: “At Hyatt we have a very strong company purpose, and that is to care for people so they can be their best.
“The word care is very deep and goes beyond serving. It includes our colleagues, neighbours, customers, owners, everyone who we interact with. And being your best is also very powerful, because it says that to be your best, we all need different things.
“Everything that we do at Hyatt starts with this purpose and bringing that to life. Wellbeing is part of our values, it is something that we expect our leaders to champion and to role model. And when we think about leaders, it includes not only creating an environment where others are well, but self care. Because if you don’t demonstrate what you want to create as an environment for others, it’s always more challenging.
“We want to create sincere and true connections between people and emotional intelligence is the gateway to that. It’s the bridge between people, between coworkers, leaders and colleagues. The ability to connect to others deeply and in a meaningful way is not only important for work, but also important for everybody’s wellbeing, because if I’m emotionally intelligent means I have an awareness of emotions to help understand somebody else better.
“We’re looking into programmes around emotionally-intelligent workplace behaviour. It sounds very academic now, but it really does boil down to really making an effort and being empathetic and understanding who I’m with.”
The pandemic has thrown people’s everyday wellness into sharp relief and we are seeing our sector and others respond, meaning that, much as we are seeing leisure and business stays blur, so too are we seeing mental health and spirituality find its way into our daily lives as well as our breaks from the old routine.