Wellness holidays aren’t going anywhere according to Health & Fitness Travel Director Samatha Lippiatt. We caught up with the Scottish travel wellness expert, who is now permanently based in Australia, to talk about healthy holiday trends.
Samantha, tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended becoming a wellness holiday expert.
I am the co-founder of Australia’s first dedicated wellness travel business, Health and Fitness Travel. Initially wanting to run my own retreats, I noted a gap in the market for a specialised agency and platform to promote wellness holidays in Australia. With a background in the travel and well-being industry for 10+ years, I was able to bring together the right skills and experience and through collaborating with the thriving business from the UK, we launched Health and Fitness Travel locally in 2014.
Originally from Scotland, I have lived here since I was very young and love calling Australia home. I travel the world visiting our business partners or exploring new locations. I live in Melbourne with my husband and our rescue cat, Tinsel.
Wellness and active holidays have been on the rise for a few years and it doesn’t seem like the trend is slowing down, rather the opposite. Can you tell us from your experience what people are looking for when travelling nowadays?
Wellness and active holidays are here to stay. It used to be that a holiday was a chance to overindulge and laze about, but now, people are focusing on improving their quality of life and embracing a healthy lifestyle and this is trickling over to their travel plans or even becoming the main purpose of travel.
Many experts claim that ‘luxury travel’ has been redefined over the past few years. Now it is more about well-being, privacy and authenticity. From your experience do you agree with this?
Yes. I think wellness defines the new era of luxury travel. With the stresses of modern life and being constantly connected, people value holiday time more than ever. As travellers become savvier, they are now using their precious time away from home and work to focus on self-improvement. Many people are willing to go to great lengths to unplug, find inner peace and improve their overall well-being. For many hotels, luxury has become more than the frills of 5-star accommodation. Resorts mainly focused on leisure are now incorporating wellness elements into their services, with some coursing through a complete overhaul to cater to the increasing demand. Examples of this include Hotel Komune in Keramas Beach Bali, which launched their Health Hub in 2015 for the more wellness-centred travellers and Amatara Resort and Wellness, formerly Phuket Regent, a five-star luxury resort in Thailand, rebranded as a healthy holiday destination.
What types of wellness holidays are the most popular?
Our de-stress and detox programs are highly on demand, and other travel experiences that cover elements of nutrition, fitness, mindfulness and holistic healing are popular as well.
Which destinations are the most popular at the moment for wellness holidays? And why?
Thailand and Bali are the most popular. Wellness is a flourishing sector in both destinations and their proximity, value and the variety of wellness retreats available make these two a favourite amongst travellers.
Travellers are becoming more conscious about their diet when on holidays too, what are the main changes you’ve seen from hotels and resorts when it comes to their food and drinks offerings?
For resorts and hotels that are incorporating wellness elements to their services, the menu always follows. Since wellness holidays are usually a time for cleansing, we’re seeing a lot of raw vegan or vegetarian options offered mostly to guests who are undergoing a program. But it’s not the bland and boring greens at all. These dishes are prepared with a creative flair, with its taste, presentation and health-giving benefits in mind. Whilst other diet options are still available, hotels are now more conscious about their resources, focusing on whole-foods and organically sourced ingredients.
Lastly, what’s your ideal wellness holiday that you would love to go on yourself?
I love to be by the ocean, I find the sound of the waves very calming. In fact, I spent the entire winter in Thailand where I visited some of our partner retreats like Kamalaya, Thanyapura and Samahita. I also like to mix it up, between retreats I like to kite-surf or head to Yin yoga classes and enjoy regular massage and spa treatments.