Event Design

New Trends for Wellness in Meetings

Woman with a horse

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Move over yoga. New wellness trends like forest bathing, sound healing, and equine experiences are becoming part of today’s meeting agendas.

Layoffs, continued anxiety ignited by Covid, and economic uncertainty, this is a stress-inducing time. Business events are a massive investment, so planners should strive to keep attendees healthy and engaged. Wellness is no longer a fad, it’s a way of life, but wellness trends are evolving.

Pampering treatments like massage and meditation are no longer enough. Less-mainstream experiences like forest bathing and sound healing are being added to meeting agendas. Attendees can’t get enough.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness economy is projected to reach $7 trillion in 2025. With it is a myriad of offerings never before on meeting agendas.

Special Treatments

Exhale operates spas in 20 properties in 11 markets- The company follows wellness trends closely and is seeing a surge in its recovery services. Julia Sutton, who founded Exhale in 2002, sees a newly ignited focus on health and wellness stirred by the Covid pandemic. 

Exhale has recently hosted groups for recovery treatments usually used by athletes. “We had an American Express team in, and they all did cryotherapy, a treatment that uses the cold to reduce inflammation, followed by an infrared sauna that helps eliminate toxins and compression that uses the force of air to compress and release the legs. Then they joined together for a group meditation and a healthy lunch,” said Sutton. 

Sound Healing 

Hilton identified wellness as one of its 2023 trends citing that 40 percent want access to such experiences, especially those that are unique to the destination. An example is the Art of Sound Healing experience held within Conrad Bali’s Infinity Chapel. 

An ancient meditative practice, sound healing uses vibrations and frequencies to promote emotional and physical well-being. At the Conrad Bali, the experience is led by a local Indonesian sound healer who creates a blend of binary beats and theta waves that activates the body’s natural healing system and balances the seven chakras. A seven-course, plant-based menu, and essential oil blends are available to enhance the overall experience further.

Equine Experiences

With offerings including a Chorus of Crystals, Floating Meditation, and a Labyrinth Journey, Miraval Resorts & Spas has continued incorporating wellness trends and remains a popular option for corporate retreats. 

One of its most popular mindful activities is the Miraval Equine Experience, a cornerstone of the brand for nearly 30 years. It entails getting a horse to move in a particular direction without touching or speaking to it — one’s body language dictates the horse’s movements.

“Our horses and equine facilitators serve as unique reflection tools that allow individuals to see and recognize things in themselves they may not be aware of, or uncover patterns or behavior possibly holding them back from their highest potential and joy,” said Dina Fenili, associate vice president of sales, marketing and brand at Miraval. 

Kathy Stepien, MD, FAAP, director of the Institute for Physician Wellness, has been bringing groups regularly to Miraval since 2017. “The location itself is special and supports the pause that is so needed by busy physicians. We host retreats all across North America and beyond. Our participants repeatedly request returning to Miraval.” 

Wellness Trends Go Outside

Nature helps to calm the nerves and lower blood pressure. With this in mind, The Lodge at Woodloch – A Destination Spa, has created numerous outdoor offerings for groups. 

According to Woodloch’s activity director, this is a carryover from the pandemic. Groups opt for guided nature hikes and bike rides over indoor fitness classes and yoga. They are eager to get outside.

Forest bathing — an activity practiced in Japan — connects one to nature through the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. This is a popular group experience the Lodge at Woodloch is getting more requests for.

Photo credit: Equine Experience / Miraval Arizona