As someone who enjoys a good workout class or a wellness walk on the beach, I never pictured myself as someone who would book a “wellness” getaway – until the industry caught up to our normal interests. In my mind, a wellness vacation sounded like a silent retreat in Costa Rica where you can only eat vegetables and fresh juices? And while that may have been the case 10 years ago, the market has rapidly expanded and is no longer a trend limited for yogis and fitness nuts.

Many lifestyle hotels and resorts, as well as leisure travel-centric destinations have taken to the “soft wellness,” avoiding alienating those that may feel intimidated or like they aren’t “fit enough” to go on a trip to better themselves. Many resorts across the world have increased accessible wellness experiences, like yoga, running maps for nearby trails, cooking classes, healthy menu choices and much more. For example, the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Naples, Florida introduced a Serenity Suite a few years ago, providing an opportunity to experience total wellbeing while away from home. Serene design features include custom lighting with all switches dimmer-equipped, in-suite aromatherapy and a PranaSleep mattress with luxury organic bedding. Amenities include a yoga mat, meditation CDs and DVDs, NutriBullet Pro blender and a Serenity Menu of services available in the Serenity Suite, including massage, meditation and personalized wellness coaching.

As consumer travel trends have shifted to an increased desire for experiences, it’s not surprising that has led to more wellness experiences as well. Instead of just sitting on a beach, people want to try beach yoga, learn to surf or take a guided walk along the shore.

Experts believe that the reason more travelers are incorporating wellness is because we live in increasingly stressful times, and people need more out of their vacations. It’s tough to argue with that. Technology has also helped make wellness more accessible. ClassPass recently made this announcement in its 2019 Fitness Trends, finding that 18 percent of business travelers booked workouts in a city other than where they lived – telling us that keeping a healthy lifestyle is important to all of us, not just those with time for a dedicated “wellness” vacation.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness travel market is now estimated at $639 billion, with a growth rate of 6.5 percent a year — more than twice the growth rate of tourism overall. Chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Summit Susie Ellis identified the following trends in Wellness Travel for 2020.

The Circadian Traveler

Ellis notes, “we’re just beginning to understand sleep, and it’s going to remain a cultural obsession for the next year as we work out not just how to optimize our sleeping habits at home, but also while we travel. Jet lag hacks are going to be central to the conversation, with apps like Timeshifter giving travelers a personalized and actionable plan on how to optimize themselves through timezones.”

Slow Wellness Travel

More than half of the worlds’ population lives in cities, and that’s expected to rise to 68 percent by 2050 according to the United Nations. While “overtourism”seemed like the buzzword we couldn’t escape in 2019, Ellis predicts “slow wellness travel” could replace it for 2020 – combining the desire to travel sustainably and also disconnect and slow down from our 24/7 digital lives. Wellness travelers are looking for a way to limit their impact on the earth, either by traveling in a more eco-friendly way or by staying at home. Slow wellness travel rejects bucket lists and says yes to low-impact, off-the-beaten-track adventures like hiking or cycling holidays.

The Urban Wellness Resort

People are seeking short breaks or staycations in their hometowns and are looking for places to retreat while at home, and wellness membership club concepts are predicted to flourish in cities around the globe.

Switching on the “Belief Mechanism”

Spirituality is hardly new, but with a rising interest in ancient modalities like TCM, Ayurveda and meditation over the last year, a focus on spirituality and connection with the self is expected to come into its own in 2020. There’s predicted to be a surge of radical spiritual seekers and consciousness explorers looking to try everything from gong baths to neo-shamanism to immersive energy healing.

Forest Everything

Shinrin-Yoku, known to the West as “forest bathing,” has become a major trend this year both within the wellness and medical community. Not to be confused with a literal bath outdoors, forest bathing is centered around the concept of reconnecting with nature. It could be as simple as going to sit in a park and taking deep breaths in one’s hometown, or an organized experience at a luxury resort. At The Oberoi Sukhvilas Spa Resort in New Chandigarh, guests can step inside the Siswan Forest for a private forest bathing opportunity. During the experience guests are encouraged to remain silent and breathe deeply, allowing them to switch off from the world and to tune in to nature’s vibrations. The medicine of being in the forest is said to boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and stress, lift the mood, increase energy levels, improve sleep and much more.

The Future is Female

Wellness has always been female-led, but it’s predicted we are going to begin to see a new kind of “fierce, feminist wellness travel,” says Ellis. Women-only resorts and programs will dominate and tough adventure retreats, as well as those that focus on women’s sexual wellness, are set to bring in a new front for women’s wellness.

The New Longevity Economy

“It used to be all about anti-aging, but the silvers market is being rebranded to make aging cool,” said Ellis. The look and language of the over 55’s wellness will be rewritten in luxury and wellness travel, as the older generation seek bolder adventures and transformative experiences to improve their wellbeing physically, emotionally and mentally. It’s said that 55 is the new 35 and as people live longer, it’s never too late for reinvention – as this evolving market proves.

The Wellness Sabbatical

A newly coined concept from the Global Wellness Summit, “The Wellness Sabbatical” trend will see work and wellness blended together. These wellness travelers are flipping the switch on the short breaks trend and going away for longer periods – usually for a minimum of three weeks. These travelers won’t be disconnecting, though: they’ll remain in touch with their offices and continue to work remotely while they engage with wellness programs or activities away from home.