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Greenwashing Wellness in Hospitality

The rise of wellness in the hospitality industry is a noticeable trend. The need to recharge and reinvigorate what modern times are doing to the human body, mind, and spirit is exploding.

We are bombarded with polls about the hottest destinations for your to-do wellness list. All about in putting the proverbial dot on the ‘i’ when maximising health and well-being are on the agenda. Travel magazines shoot out new blog posts by the dozens with hotels and resorts embracing the concept of wellness in its finest form.

New spa destinations to watch out for: chefs with brand-new menus that spark fat loss and increase hormonal balances without losing the gastronomical signature of that culinary wizard. Or perhaps that new hot spot blending in with nature is just the icing on the wellness cake.

Those in the industry know the hospitality industry has its fair share of untouchables. I am not quite sure how many times I have been corrected when calling a resort a ‘resort’ while I should have used the word ‘sanctuary’, or ‘escape’ for that matter. All for the sake of properly putting the property on the market. It is the property’s definition of knowing the ins and outs. Why this niche is what must be adhered to to gain wellness success. 

Standing out from the crowd and placing it, specifically in its competitor set.

While many of these terms and definitions have a subjective aspect to them, wellness seems to be a term popping up with vigour. Existing properties are rebranding in riding the wave to leverage the demand to add more value.

New overnight addresses entice new customers to try out their integrated wellness section. Where spa therapists and trainers embrace the calm, soothing statement defined as wellness. Often with mantras that elicit health.

And we all use world wellness as the precursor for what is much more marketing-driven than actually fills in the definition of world wellness.

In simple terms, wellness is a conscious pursuit of life choices, activities, and habits surrounding one’s lifestyle which will lead to a state of holistic health. Emphasise ‘lifestyle’.

If you look at all the definitions out there from reputable organisations and institutions in pursuit of wellness, it is all about what we do in our lives consistently. We may go on a holiday regularly in search of new encounters and enthralling experiences. However, it is merely a fraction of what wellness truly means.

Properties near and far remain adamant that they tick off all boxes in terms of wellness. I still do inspections here and there. It is hard to get it out of me after 30 years of tourism and hospitality industry behind me. Consistently being presented why properties believe they offer wellness. Even the high-end are missing the concept, and it is those properties that get most of the media attention.

Just like there are definitions of what a resort is, or what the characteristics are for a hotel, so is there one for wellness? But if you lack the real concept and dig deeper into the embodiment of wellness, property management needs to rethink the term and define it properly.

Because it is now all marketed with fluff, far away from the wellness truth.

A spa and wellness centre, a healthy menu and a dedicated pillow menu is not an accurate definition of wellness.

A daily yoga session on the beach does not even touch 1% of what wellness entails.

A remote location, away from it all is not a sign that you ‘offer’ wellness.

Because what the industry is offering is based on temporary solutions. Clients tick off boxes and believe they have done wellness after a 5-day retreat yet are heading back to their normal lives. 

Stress levels may be down for a while, however, will rise as regularly as the sun rises in the east with the same regularity. Rested, their habitual sleeping routines emerge again where browsing one’s mobile is back on the agenda. Their carefully crafted menus are in no way making it back on the dinner table.

Even heading back into an environment that may not be as wellness benefitting as one may think. I do not want to think about how some of the staff lack the skills to cope with night shifts. I am also taking about those in need to meet sales targets and deadlines. Ladies and gentlemen who are undergoing stressful situations and taking these home. And still seeing sales managers wearing towering heels while guiding inspections.

This, too, is connected to wellness.

It is not solved through a team-building outing or a Human Resources Department with a bi-yearly ergonomic and health check-up.

Part of the process is that wellness is used as a fashion word. It is a temporary solution for both customers and property employees to think they do something for all in terms of better health. 

Agree, clients do need to be educated as well as there are a lot of them. But it must start with how it is offered properly. Because we as humans do start to value what wellness means and the term ‘health is wealth’ has become a statutory term of how we do need to define wellness.

The solution lies in education. Consistent education.

If you, as a property owner or general manager, want to take on wellness head-on, clients need to be able to bring the tools you want to bring forward with them and practise them. 

How to keep that proper night’s sleep in place? What does a good meal consist of? How can a client cope with the recurring levels of stress when back at home? Can you really deliver tools to a client so he/she can take these back home and keep on moving forward?

How much do you really implement all the above for your staff? What will you do to ensure their health remains up to par and retention rates drop?

Or increase productivity and energy management without supplements or using so-called archaic “common sense practices” which often lead to a decline in a wellness state of being.

This is where you may shine like a true wellness resort.

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. | Aldous Huxley

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