By Kathy Feist
Imagine meditating on a warm, sandy beach in Mexico. Practicing yoga among the lavender fields in Michigan. Bodybuilding in a garden gym in Croatia. Microdose hiking along Spain’s medieval forest and castles.
Those are only a few of 2,000 health and wellness experiences offered on the AirBnB website.
That list is sure to grow as the travel industry takes note of its fastest growing trend: wellness tourism.
Wellness tourism is any activity that promotes health and well-being through physical, psychological or spiritual activities.
This year, it is estimated that travelers investing in wellness vacations will be spending $919 billion. By 2027, that amount is expected to grow to $1.2 trillion, according to the Global Wellness Institute. From major hotel chains like Marriott to small, individually run vacation rental homes and bed and breakfasts, changes have been made to cater to the growing trend.
That includes south Kansas City residents Kathleen and Jim Foland.
The couple recently renovated a condo in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for their winter getaway.
Kathleen, an entrepreneur and health coach, saw potential in their condo’s beautiful surroundings. With white sandy beaches and ancient Mayan ruins, Playa del Carmen is a natural setting for spiritual healing experiences and fitness excursions.
Their three-bedroom condo, called Musa Sirena, offers concierge packages such as onsite yoga and meditation sessions, art and cooking classes, water aerobics and visits to a nearby cenote (a natural deep-water sinkhole) for swimming or healing ceremonies.
Kathleen says a typical retreat would start with an organic breakfast, followed by guided meditation and or a massage by a practitioner and then an afternoon excursion.
The property has been outfitted with a yoga space, fitness equipment, large kitchen, top-of-the-line water-filtration system and eco-friendly cleaning products and toiletries.
Jim had been recovering from cancer when he and Kathleen began retreating to Playa del Carmen. “We had been learning more about Mexico’s support of a healthy lifestyle and liked the simpler, slower pace of life there,” says Kathleen, who sells seaweed products through her business called Mermaid Muse.
“[Musa Sirena] is an extension of me being a health coach and finding ways for people to get away and take care of themselves,” says Foland, “which is what we were trying to do for both of us.”
The Folands began leasing Musa Sirena this summer for short-term vacation rentals or long-term stays.
But one doesn’t have to travel as far as Mexico to indulge in a wellness experience. In fact, south Kansas City offers a popular wellness package through Airbnb. A two-hour mountain bike adventure leads bicyclists along the trails within the Blue River Corridor. Participants cross 60 miles of diverse terrain, taking in views of the river, limestone bluffs and wildflower glades.
No matter where one stays or lives, unique wellness experiences seem to be available. Most can be found through Airbnb’s Health & Wellness Experience category, TripAdvisor’s FlipKey Say Spahh section and VRBO’s Wellness Retreats Trip Board.