Given our increasingly stressful and hyper-connected era — or what Skift deemed “the state of permanxiety” back in 2017 — it’s not entirely surprising that demand for wellness-related travel experiences continues to grow. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness travel market is now estimated at $639 billion, with an annual growth rate of 6.5 percent — more than double the growth rate of tourism overall. Consumers are increasingly drawn to travel as a form of self-actualization, personal transformation, and growth, and want to leave their vacations feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated than when they first arrived. In response, destinations, hospitality brands, travel tech companies, and even airlines and airports are examining how they can expand their services to help travelers feel better.
Swapping Politics for Paradise
Aruba is one such destination that is paying attention to the rising desire among travelers to partake in activities that will help rejuvenate their minds and bodies. The island already offers an abundance of wellness experiences that help travelers feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually. And while the typical wellness travel offerings such as yoga retreats and spa getaways continue to be popular with Aruba’s visitors who are seeking a respite from the everyday, travelers to the island are increasingly searching for personalized wellness experiences that are tailored to their individual needs and interests.
Recently, the Aruba Tourism Authority took the island’s personalized wellness offerings to the next level with its Election Disconnection Experience, which offers an innovative travel package to provide stressed-out Americans relief from the rising political anxiety, no matter what political party they belong to. Travel leaders on the island recognized that now more than ever, there’s a seemingly shared sentiment of tension, unease, and exhaustion that accompanies election-year political banter. In a November 2019 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 56 percent of adults said that the upcoming election was already a “significant stressor.”
The highly personalized ‘disconnection’ travel package, which is available for booking beginning March 2020, will aim to help treat individuals’ political fatigue symptoms. Each Election Disconnection experience consists of a custom itinerary of activities to help guests decompress.
Upon booking, guests will complete a simple questionnaire that ranks their specific stress symptoms. In turn, Belquis Moreu — a leading wellness expert in Aruba with over 20 years of experience and owner of the Moreu Facilitation & Healing Center — will work with a dedicated concierge to create a hyper-personalized itinerary to guide guests along a transformative journey. A traveler’s package could include activities ranging from puppy hours to reduce anxiety, oxygen therapy to aid with sleep, a hypnosis session, or aerial yoga and kite surfing, and no two itineraries will be alike. The trips will only be offered this October, so Americans can return to the U.S. relaxed and ready to cast their vote on November 3, 2020.
“Since everyone copes with stress differently, we wanted to create a first-of-its-kind respite for visitors to disconnect from the politically-fueled stress ahead of the election. No matter which political party you belong to, with our endless sunshine and warm locals, the island of Aruba will offer a welcome reprieve,” said CEO of Aruba Tourism Authority, Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes.
One Happy Island
In Aruba, often referred to as “One happy island,” wellness is inherent to the culture: According to a five-year happiness index study conducted in partnership between Aruba Tourism Authority and Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, Aruba is the happiest island in the world, relative to size.
This high level of happiness among locals isn’t surprising when you consider the island’s ideal location. Aruba is situated outside of the hurricane belt, allowing for an abundance of sunshine year round. It has beautiful surroundings with protected flora and fauna, developed infrastructure, an economy that boasts one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, and a tightly knit community that fosters entrepreneurship, creativity, and opportunity. As Maria Pucci Garcia, antigravity aerial yoga instructor at Aruba’s Fly Fit Studio, put it, “Aruba is a strong and powerful geographic space for wellness practices. The power of the wind, combined with the warm sun and calming ocean, provides us with stress-free vibes.”
This could mean joining active outdoor activities such as kitesurfing — a favorite pastime for Silicon Valley’s elite and becoming increasingly popular on Aruba due to the island’s trade winds — biking events put on by Tri Bike Aruba, trail runs for all ages, attending Fitville Aruba, a 3-day fitness festival celebrating fitness, community, and life, participating in a meditation session at Aruba’s Butterfly Farm, or enjoying a plant-based, gluten-free meal at eatery One Happy Bowl.
Aruba’s 80 degree weather year-round makes it an ideal place for locals and visitors alike to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Tjin Asjoe-Croes said that her daily routine “typically starts with a jog at Tierra Del Sol with a view of the California Lighthouse and the sea and might include an activity like hot hatha yoga at Happy Buddha Yoga.”
Additionally, the island hosts Aloe Wellness Month each June, which gives guests the chance to explore an abundance of wellness experiences set against the inspiring backdrop of Aruba’s breathtaking landscapes and seascapes. Aloe thrives in Aruba’s climate, and cultivation of the plant has a long history on the island. Aruba’s aloe plant and its healing properties are celebrated throughout this month, with participating spas incorporating it into various treatments and restaurants using it in beverages and dishes.
As Moreu explained, “Our slogan ‘One happy island’ has become more than a simple saying.” She believes that the infectious happiness of the locals has a direct effect on visitors. “Tourism is impacted by genuine service from the hearts of people. It has become a holistic experience for visitors that keeps them coming back for more.”