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Report: 2020 Wellness Trends

Monday, December 2, 2019  
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Report: 2020 Wellness Trends

Hospitality Net - December 2, 2019 

The following research and insights are compiled by Jeremy McCarthy, Group Director of Spa & Wellness at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. The brand leads the luxury hospitality sector in integrating wellness into the guest experience, continuously creating offerings that nurture the mind, body and soul.

1. Ageing Goes Mainstream
Far and away the biggest topic at the 2019 Global Wellness Summit was the ageing population. According to research by the United Nations, 2018 was the first year in human history that persons aged 65 or above outnumbered children under five. Globally, the population aged 65 and over is growing faster than all other age groups, and this will continue for a while, growing from 9% of the population to 16% worldwide in the next three decades. It is predicted that by 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and North America will be aged 65 or over.

But the big message is not just that the population is getting older - it's that getting older doesn't mean what it used to. At the Global Wellness Summit, one of the keynote presentations was delivered by David Harry Stewart, founder and CEO of AGEIST, who asked the question, "What do people over 50 really look like?" They look very different from what you find if you search "people over 50" in Google. "For the first time, a 50-year-old can reasonably believe that they are 'halfway,'" said Stewart.

Not only is this age demographic not giving up; in many cases, they are only getting started. Stewart shared that most people feel, on average, 20 years younger than they actually are. Many people in this demographic are starting new careers, launching new businesses (more experience also means a higher tolerance for risk), and taking on other self-actualizing projects and adventures.

Another keynote speaker at the summit, Dave McCaughan, called this demographic the "new life builders" and shared examples of how this class is reinventing itself in Asia. Masako Wakamiya, for example, is an 82-year-old grandmother in Japan who taught herself to code and has since begun a new career as a successful app developer catering to the senior market.

The older segment is growing but not slowing. They are reinventing themselves and want to squeeze the most out of life, making wellness one of their top priorities. The luxury wellness and hospitality sectors need to be prepared for these consumers. In our hotels, we are not only selling rooms and spa treatments, we are selling self-actualization.

2. Movement is the New Fitness
The "movement movement" is well underway. Fitness studios are becoming movement studios. Fitness trainers are becoming movement trainers. And fitness workshops are becoming movement workshops. Ushered in by gurus like Ido Portal out of Tel Aviv, people's conception of the best way to train our bodies is being broadened drastically.

The problem with movement is that it is so broad that it becomes hard to define. But the contrast with fitness is clear, because fitness is about limiting movement into specific patterns. The traditional fitness philosophy is that there is a "correct" way to move, and there is a surplus of trainers and experts who are happy to point out when someone moves in a way that is "out of alignment."

But a movement philosophy values all movement, not just specific patterns that fall within a certain paradigm or approach. "There is no such thing as improper alignment," said Portal, "only improper preparation." People's styles of training are becoming more and more organic, moving away from traditional patterns of aerobics and weight lifting and towards more improvisational practices such as parkour, gymnastics or dance. These movement practices are as challenging and stimulating for the mind as they are for the body, turning the conventional approach towards "physical fitness" inside out.

Ido Portal's followers take this to the extremes of diversity and improvisation seamlessly flowing from juggling to sprinting to climbing to breathing to dance to martial arts to gymnastics and back again. Under his guidance, a strong and growing community under the tag #movementculture has emerged, exploring movement in all its forms.

The Global Wellness Institute has also acknowledged this shift by expanding their view of how physical activity fits in to the wellness economy. Their new study includes not only fitness activities, but also "sports and active recreation" and "mindful movement" to show that human movement practice goes far beyond what fits within the limited fitness paradigm.

In response to this trend, Mandarin Oriental is reimagining the hotel fitness centres. Traditionally, hotel gyms have been packed with wall-to-wall machines that are designed to restrict movement. All of our new gyms feature movement and mobility zones, which include overhead hanging apparatus (for gymnastics rings or TRX,) a variety of accessories (Kettlebells, medicine balls, etc.,) and most importantly, room to move.

3. Sustainability and Wellness Get Married

Sustainability and wellness have both been rising megatrends on their own trajectories. But it seems the gravity of each has become so massive that they can't help but collide and merge. At this year's Global Wellness Summit, sustainability was a recurring theme across all topics - and rightfully so, as people cannot be truly well if we don't have a well planet.

Being healthier is, by definition, more sustainable, and good health and wellbeing is already one of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. For many, practicing more sustainable ways of living is also an important part of a wellness lifestyle. The Economist, for instance, named 2019 "the year of the vegan," citing the growth of vegan food sales compared to other categories. Is this driven by consumer interest in sustainability, wellness, or both?

One factor is that a slew of new meat alternatives is making vegetarianism an easier choice. Critics will argue that some of these alternatives are no healthier than their animal-based predecessors, but this fails to take into account the mental and spiritual wellbeing that consumers experience from eating more ethically produced foods.

At Mandarin Oriental, we notice that our sustainability and wellness initiatives tend to go hand in hand. In 2019 we announced our move away from single-use plastics, which led us to other wellness-oriented offerings such as infused waters in our fitness centres and meeting rooms. Following these trends, our portfolio of restaurants are moving in directions that are both healthier and more sustainable, with less reliance on red meats and dairy products and more local sourcing, with some of our hotels growing herbs and produce on site.

And our workplace and community wellness initiatives clearly reside in both camps. The year 2019 marked the fourth year that we participated in Global Wellness Day by offering free wellness activities in our local communities. Our Colleague Wellness Week has proven such a success that in 2020, we are committing to expanding the initiative into a yearlong calendar of wellness events just for our teams.

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