The New Feminist Wellness Movement

It now seems the wellness travel industry is being swept by a new movement, designed not just to enhance wellness but simultaneously empower women.

Generally speaking, the portion of the wellness travel industry traditionally aimed at attracting women has largely been devoted to comfort, relaxation, and pampering, ie. massages and cocktails by the pool. Nowadays, the emphasis has shifted further towards true wellness, and achieving a greater sense of inner peace, tranquility and improved mental health, which can then be coupled with other aspects of physical health, fitness and diet. Wellness retreats around the globe are attracting attendees seeking a more holistic lifestyle change, coupling traditional retreat-style spa treatments like massage, body treatments, saunas and steams, reiki, facials or the like, with wellness-based activities like yoga and meditation, along with curated diets throughout the duration of one’s stay.

There is now speculation that the industry is shifting even further towards a higher cause, with the very meaning and understanding of ‘wellness for women’ changing altogether. The modern era of feminism is sparking a change in what women want during their travels, opting for empowerment over R&R.

According to the 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report, we will soon be seeing a growth in “extreme adventure travel for the solo woman, more retreats for women to heal emotionally, more that help women get their sexual wellness back, and resorts with more women-empowering beauty programs.”

The report also claims the trend is backed by the exponential global growth in women’s spending power. “Nearly all leading economic thinkers agreeing the economic future is female. From 2013–2023, the global incomes of women will explode from $13 trillion to $18 trillion. By 2028, women will control close to 75 percent of discretionary world spending.”

Indeed, publications from around the world recently account several incidents that support the claims of a rise in female-only travel. The New York Times reported an increasing number of tour operators and hotels offering female-only visits and programs designed to address gender equality.

US health and lifestyle publication Well+Good conducted a survey of nearly 5,000 of their readers, finding that 40% would opt for a fitness retreat with a beloved instructor over a five-star resort. Even Indian news outlet The Hans claims that the number of solo female travellers in India is on the rise, and that several tour operators have seen a 75% growth in female-only bookings. Earlier this year, a female only island, SuperShe, opened in Finland, providing a luxurious wellness retreat for 10 women at a time.

More and more retreats are aiming to deliver healing to female attendees experiencing turbulent events in their lives, such as break ups, divorce, grief or loss, or other difficult milestones. Aside from health retreats and dedicated spa programs, the trend has even spawned the creation of purpose-built travel companies specialising in female-only adventuring, such as Adventure Women; owned and operated by a mother and two-daughter team, or female-founded WHOA Travel (Women High on Adventure).

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