It’s that time of year. Autumn. My favorite. But, for us here at Hotel Business, it’s a heavy travel season. Just in the past month-and-a-half, the editorial team has been on the road numerous times and in numerous locations—from Red Roof’s conference in Nashville, TN, to the Legislative Action Summit in DC, to The Lodging Conference in Phoenix, to the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts conference in Las Vegas, to the Best Western conference in Maryland. And we still have more to attend, more to cover, in the next couple of months, to bring you all the news and happenings. And that’s not to mention the local receptions and meetings and video shoots. And, believe me, there are plenty of them.
Sometimes, I’m amazed at how such a small staff can be present at so many industry events, yet not miss a beat in the office. And manage to write, report and produce everything you want to know about in depth and on time. It’s hectic for sure—exciting and stressful all at the same time. But, of course, I’m preaching to the choir. We’re an industry of business, travel, lodging and hospitality, which means being there, in person, is at the center of it all.
That exhilarating, yet sometimes anxiety-producing, pace—and keeping up with it—is a common theme when we interview industry executives. And a question we often pose—and a response we often hear—includes that phrase “maintaining a work/life balance” and how it’s becoming more difficult to do so with the demands, the expectations, the technology that not only enables, but often encourages, 24/7 participation. Yet we strive to, at least, create, even if not yet maintain, that seemingly elusive equitable proportion. Different people define what that means to them in different ways, and achieve that all-important goal through different methods, but the idea of well-being is always at the core of their answers.
I just came back from Phoenix where I attended The Lodging Conference. While there, I was honored to moderate a session, “ROI: Health and Wellness Resorts.” The panel discussion touched on tranquility through design, best-in-class management, personalized service, health-focused F&B, fitness programs, spa therapies and treatments, and how all of these elements are part of the growing trend: The global health and wellness industry is more than $4 trillion and the wellness tourism industry is roughly $6 billion, according to the Global Wellness Institute. My esteemed panel was comprised of Roger Bloss, CEO, Alternative Hospitality; Amanda Frasier, EVP, standards and ratings, Forbes Travel Guide; Patrick Huey, corporate director spa operations, Montage International; Jim Root, GM, Mii amo/director of well-being, Enchantment Group; and Molly Anderson, VP, experience development, Canyon Ranch. The panelists weighed in on, among other things, gaining a competitive advantage and ensuring a strong bottom line through products and services. But, they all assured me and the audience, it’s people who creates the real—and important—distinction between wellness and well-being. Yes, there were many ideas and insights bounced around during the 75-minute session—everything from the growing cannabis/CBD trend and how and whether to incorporate it into hotels and resorts, to locally inspired and sourced menus, to that super-loyal Peloton following, but the discussion always returned to one unanimous thought: Wellness and well-being are two related but separate ideas. Well-being is a timeless ideal, rather than a trend or fad, for each individual. It centers on connection rather that product or program. And it’s a point of difference the industry needs to understand and to convey, through the art of hospitality, to each and every guest.
Often times, wellness is a code word for luxury, a buzzword, a couple of my panelists suggested, and while wellness trends—massage, aromatherapy, lighting, cuisine—are all essential to a wellness lifestyle and wellness retreats, well-being—something we all seek—is achieved through connection, relationships, and co-creation of experiences with your guests. It involves more than a place to work out, a place to get a facial. Rather it is a sense of place. The panelists emphasized the importance of creating intimacy and offering emotional comfort, which is more about interacting than transacting with the guest. And helping your guests to, perhaps, not create a balance between work and life—after all, these days, that seems unlikely—but a healthy co- existence, where mindfulness and well-being can prevail.