Rise of the Urban Wellness Resort

Overtourism  The World’s Newest Wellness Destinations: Cities

Even in the world’s most crowded cities, people need a respite. It may seem counterintuitive to place a wellness hospitality property smack in the middle of a major metropolitan area. But the fact is, several of the world’s top wellness brands are moving beyond their roots in idyllic locations to set up shop in big cities. Aman is already in Tokyo; Six Senses recently opened in Singapore; and both wellness brands are coming to New York City in 2020. Kerzner International Holdings Limited recently announced it is evolving its One&Only portfolio to include One&Only Urban Resorts. The first will open in Dubai. Fivelements, which runs a famed Balinese eco-wellness resort, has launched a wellness day center concept in Hong Kong. According to Andrew Gibson, co-founder of the Wellness Tourism Association, “These examples of new wellness ventures in urban locations are a result of the overwhelming global interest in wellness and the increasing evidence that being healthy is not a preserve for the wealthy.”

Each of the companies mentioned is approaching its urban strategy differently. Aman’s urban properties appear to operate more like standard hotels, albeit with large spas and other wellness components. According to Roland Fasel, COO of Aman, the city hotels are designed around the brand pillars of high-touch service, creating experiences that derive from the local DNA, a holistic wellness component, uncomplicated luxury and understated elegance, and generosity of space. The orienting ethos of it all, says Fasel, is the idea of welcoming people into a home, which applies whether a guest is in the middle of nowhere or smack dab in the core of the Big Apple.

According to a press release, “One&Only Urban Resorts will challenge the conventional city hotel. In a buzzing and busy city, a place to escape the bright lights is always needed, a place to unwind; all urban resorts will offer beautifully designed green spaces to provide a serene sanctuary year-round.” Each urban resort will house a One&Only Gym, cycle and yoga studios, and a spa that is open around the clock.

Six Senses’ city properties will offer creative wellness programming, including options for social wellness. According to Anna Bjurstam, vice president, spas and wellness at Six Senses, “For example, in Singapore, where space is more limited, it’s about designing an immersive experience throughout the hotel through the content we are creating.” In such properties, where space is tight, she says, “wellness shows up in different ways.” For example, the Six Senses Duxton hosts a resident Chinese doctor, who provides complimentary consultations for guests. According to Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs, Six Senses in Singapore will also be developing a restaurant menu with Chinese medicinal offerings.

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