TREND: A New Feminist Wellness
Wellness Travel Aimed at Empowering Women
Most wellness travel is aimed at women, and there are a gazillion female-focused wellness retreats each year. In the past though, you could say that women’s wellness travel has been more about comfort than epic challenge—more pampering by the pool with your BFF—or where the psychology of empowerment offered up was rather “soft.”
Now, more wellness travel for women reflects some key elements of our fourth wave of feminism movement: wilder and tougher; less orthodox and more creative; a little less about me than we; and where, whether feminism is or is not a proud political tag you wear, it’s still essentially your lifestyle choice. It’s impossible to describe even a fraction of the new directions wellness travel is taking to empower women…here are just two.
Pampering? No, Tough & Transformative Adventure Travel. More women travelers now seek—and associate wellness with—a high-adrenaline surf retreat or climbing to Machu Picchu than a lazy spa weekend. Yes, millennials are a factor here, but the average adventure traveler is a 48-year-old woman. A standout: Adventure Women, run by a mother and her two daughters, that leads groups of women on intrepid adventures all around the world. Another standout: female-founded WHOA Travel (which stands for Women High on Adventure) that has taken women on “kick ass” adventures in 65 countries.
Painmoons: Women’s Wellness Travel Gets Real about Anger & Sadness. Now, more wellness travel for women acknowledges that women’s lives (like everyone’s) include divorce, breakups, grief, loss, anger, fear, a loss of sexual happiness, etc. Call them “painmoons,” or tough turning-point wellness travel. More retreats are focusing on helping people through rough chapters, with a more creative roster of emotional healing approaches, such as the UK’s Orchid City and Spa’s new “Divorce Parties,” designed for newly divorced women to do some healing with their friends, and Borgo Egnazia’s inhibition-shattering, three-day Tarant Program (the resort is in a village in Puglia, Italy), which is designed for “women with a shattered soul in need of revolution.”
Forecasting The Future
We will see more 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 recent feminist wave has spurred this rise in tougher, more transformative wellness travel for women. But feminist climate or not in the future, this trend is driven by one powerful fact: the sheer global growth in women’s spending power—with 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.
The women-empowering message in wellness looks to get more explicit, in general—while the parameters of what constitutes “wellness for women” will significantly expand. Everyone in the travel industry should pay close attention to this shift.