Luxury wellness travel and the millennial generation

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

Baby boomers may have jump-started the wellness travel boom with their affinity for luxury spas. But a new report shows that Gen Xers and millennials are fast becoming the core demographic for this fast-growing travel sector.

The second part of Spafinder Wellness 365's State of Wellness report, just released, looks at the demographics of wellness travelers. And it found that when it comes to modern travelers, the availability of options such as adventure activities like surfing and hiking, medical services and sleep clinics are more important to GenXers and millennials than to their parents and grandparents.

The top bookers of wellness travel today are older Gen Xers and the very youngest of boomers, or travelers ranging in age from 46 to 55. That group is followed by GenXers in the 36-to-45 bracket. The heart of the boomer generation comes in third, followed by millennials, and lastly, those over 65.

The report, based on a July 2015 survey of 200 North American and European travel agents, offers interesting insights into the wellness tourism sectors. The wellness travel “landscape is expanding, more complex, and less one-size-fits-all than ever,” said John Bevan, COO of Spafinder Wellness.

For the survey, SpaFinder Wellness asked agents to rate the importance of 16 different wellness components and programs to their clients. Every category, which included beach access, yoga, healthy cuisine, weight loss and sleep programs, scored at least 5.9 out of 10 for every age group. But they all ranked higher for younger travelers than for boomers and older travelers.

And while it is probably not surprising that outdoor adventure programs, green initiatives and local “do good” and voluntourism activities are more important for younger travelers, the survey found that younger travelers also rank traditional activities like golf and tennis slightly higher than boomers and older travelers.

Still, traditional luxury is more important to boomers and older travelers, who, according to agents, prefer a spa resort with a focus on pampering and stress-reduction by considerable margins.

But the survey underscores the need for these luxury resorts to continue expanding beyond their traditional spa and wellness programs to add more intensive, out-in-nature adventure and fitness options to attract the next generation of travelers.

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