I believe the usual spa and wellness experience as we know it stands on the precipice of major change, one that is a series of linked experiences that capture the imagination, that take our guests beyond the daily realm of life.
This journey into fantasia begins with the design, as is the case with The Red Mountain Resort, which is under development north of Reykjavik, Iceland. The proposed resort, with its dramatic architecture rising out of the wild, craggy volcanic landscape, immediately signals that you’ve entered an otherworldly place. The multi-sensory spa journey casts guests in a heroic voyage within the medieval saga of Bárður. They travel through five emotional states: contemplation, exposure, confrontation, clarity and enlightenment, each one expressed through a dramatic shift in Icelandic nature, replete with wind tunnels, fire baths, rain curtains, ice pools and pitch-black slides. Fear, surprise and challenge are in play, not the usual “comfort zones” of spa. And the goal of this saga-based wellness quest provides transformation through an imaginative journey.
Wellness is by nature a journey, a multi-chapter story, and a personal and emotional quest. Transformation is both elusive and personal. But if wellness over the last decades has too often involved a narrow focus on me, me, me and my betterment and beauty—we predict that concepts that use mechanisms of fantasy and theater or “wellness avatars” will rise, because they switch on people’s imagination and cast them in a bigger-than-me saga.
There are so many potential wellness stories and sagas, and so many wellness traditions across the world that could be meaningfully explored. It is expected that more wellness and spa destinations will inject theatre and fantasy into wellness experiences to create epic-level sagas that can fire up emotion. All in all this is an exciting prospect.
Part of this blog is an excerpt from the “A New Era of Transformative Wellness Travel” Trend, 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report.