Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


IDEAS: Six Senses Aims to Blend Heritage and Innovation at Southern Dunes, The Red Sea

3 months ago

Six Senses Southern Dunes, the Red Sea has officially opened in Saudi Arabia.

The Foster + Partners designed resort features 36 guest rooms and 40 pool villas that have been strategically placed to embrace the expansive views of the surrounding Arabian Desert.

Credit: Six Senses

According to Six Senses, the architecture and landscaping of the resort has been designed to ‘reflect the harmonious coexistence between Nabataean cultural roots and contemporary amenities,’ with the interiors reflecting the ‘tones and textures of the sandy dunes and soft furnishings drawing from the rich colors and patterns of traditional Bedouin tribal dress.’

Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea also aims to be the first LEED Platinum resort in Saudi Arabia, through a number of initiatives including electricity produced at a dedicated solar farm, a plastic-free policy, and chef’s garden for growing produce.

“Everything we’re doing here reflects our unwavering commitment to sustainability and cultural preservation, while also pushing the boundaries of adventure and wellness. This part of the world holds much intrigue for visitors and immense potential for regenerative tourism. We aim to showcase the unique beauty and cultural richness of this region, while promoting sustainable tourism practices that contribute to economic growth and heritage conservation,” said Fredrik Blomqvist, general manager of Six Senses Southern Dunes, The Red Sea in a press release.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Wellness Tourism Is One of Fastest Growing Parts of Travel, To Reach $1.4 Trillion by 2027

4 months ago

That’s according to latest research put out by the Global Wellness Institute, in its annual state of the global wellness sector, of which tourism is one part.

From the report: The wellness tourism market plummeted from 2019 to 2020 ($720 billion to $351 billion), but has seen 36% annual spending growth, and 30% annual wellness trip growth, from 2020 to 2022—significantly higher than growth rates for overall tourism trips and expenditures, at 23.8% and 28.4%.

Wellness travelers made 819.4 million international and domestic wellness trips in 2022, a major increase over 2020 (483 million) and 2021 (608 million) levels. Wellness trips accounted for 7.8% of all tourism trips but represented 18.7% of all tourism expenditures in 2022 (so almost 1 in 5 total “travel dollars”). The wellness tourism market is forecast to more than double from 2022 to 2027, with dramatic spending jumps from 2022 ($651 billion) to 2023 ($868 billion) to 2024 ($1 trillion), as the market continues its supercharged recovery. After that, it’s likely to taper off to a still strong, but less overheated growth curve.

There are some wrinkles to the recovery, as the report points out that the wellness tourism, spa and thermal/mineral springs markets were the hardest hit by the pandemic, given widespread travel restrictions and business shutdowns.

All three grew rapidly in 2021-2022, but haven’t quite yet recovered to their pre-pandemic levels. A key factor is the ongoing recovery of the global tourism market: as of 2022, international trips were still at 62% of their pre-pandemic level, and domestic trips were at 73% (Euromonitor data). The Asia-Pacific region has especially lagged in recovery, due to prolonged pandemic restrictions and border closures in China, the dearth of Chinese tourists throughout the region, weakening economic conditions in China and Japan, currency depreciation, and other factors.


IDEAS: Avani+ Luang Prabang Launches Wellness Package

6 months ago

With a report from the Global Wellness Institute projecting that the wellness tourism market will be worth $1.1trillion by 2025, it is evident that travelers are beginning to prioritize wellness-oriented getaways.

And as we look ahead to World Wellness Weekend this September, Avani+ Luang Prabang has launched a new wellness package, which will run 15-17 September 2023. 

Credit: Avani+ Luang Prabang

The resort, which is located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, launched the multi-day ‘Luang Prabang Serene Sojourn’ package to ‘help guests find their perfect peace.’

The package includes meditation classes with a senior monk, health-conscious meals, alms-giving ceremonies, and other immersive activities that have been designed to showcase the historical heritage of Laos whilst helping travelers find harmony and balance.

Credit: Avani+ Luang Prabang

The three-day, two-night Luang Prabang Serene Sojourn package starts from THB 11,940 (approx. USD 338) per night. You can find out more here.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Exploring Alcohol-Free Travel in the Dominican Republic

9 months ago

Alcohol has traditionally dominated travel, however, the growing ‘sober curious’ movement is continuing to embrace non-drinking travelers.

A new alcohol-free retreat designed for aspiring and sober travelers is set to open its doors at Melia Punta Cana Beach in the Dominican Republic in October 2023.

The retreat has been designed by Alcohol Free Life Coach and Certified Professional Recovery Coach Megan Wilcox, the founder and CEO of SobahSistahs Sobriety.

Dream and Discover the Dry Life in Punta Cana, is a five-day, four-night retreat designed to enable guests to ‘connect, restore and rediscover’ through a number of wellness initiatives, including a guided yoga class, sunset meditations, sound bath therapies and more.

In 2022, the no and low-alcohol market reached an almost US$10 Billion in value according to an IWSR report, as more and more consumers show an interest in an alcohol free (or moderated) lifestyle.

Dream and Discover the Dry Life is by no means a new concept, with an array of alcohol free retreats, hotels and customer offerings already in place for sober traveler’s, including:

  • Hooked on Travel: Alcohol free trips infused with opportunities for self discovery.
  • Sober Vacations: Helping 12-steppers expand their comfort zone in safe and beautiful environments since 1987.
  • Lifotel: A “no alcohol” hotel concept designed to bring one closer to living life the natural way.
  • “Drinking Well” by Wynn Resorts: Offering guests non-alcoholic beverages throughout their Las Vegas resort.
  • We Love Lucid: Connecting like-minded solo travellers in pursuit of enriching and invigorating travel experiences minus the booze.
  • Zero Proof, Zero Judgment by Hyatt: A sophisticated spirit-free beverage offering at many Hyatt hotels around the U.S.

At the Skift IDEA Awards, we are looking for the projects that are focussing on people and community, that are leading to social change or benefiting communities.

If you have an exciting project to share, head to the Skift IDEA Awards today and start your submission. The final deadline for entries is June 20, 2023.


Canyon Ranch to Expand Wellness Resort Brand With Investor Vici’s Help

1 year ago

A real estate mogul has made a small bet on the evolution of experiential wellness in hospitality by helping to back the growth of Canyon Ranch, a four-decade-old, destination spa resort brand. 

Vici Properties said it had tapped a loan facility for up to $200 million to fund the development of Canyon Ranch Austin in Austin, Texas, slated to open in 2025. Vici is a real estate investment trust affiliated with Caesars Entertainment whose portfolio includes 58,000 hotel rooms and casinos. Earlier this year, it acquired the Venetian Resort Las Vegas in a $4 billion deal.

Expansion Plans

The move came as Canyon Ranch, which has three full-service resorts, is pursuing a growth strategy by adding the Austin resort.

More ambitiously, Canyon Ranch plans to open urban wellness clubs. It plans to open mid-size, partial-service facilities in Houston (in early 2024) and Fort Worth, Texas (by the end of 2023), that offer integrated wellness in settings of about 30,000 to 40,000 square feet.

“Wellness is not just components like diet, fitness, sleep, and mindfulness, but it’s all of it delivered in an integrated way,” said Canyon Ranch CEO Jeff Kuster. “We want to be able to follow guests back home, so to speak.”

The company will also create a mobile app that helps customers receive guidance for meeting their wellness goals with the help of biometric data.

The idea is to help guests retain the well-being they found at the resort when they return to their urban lives. Having multiple touchpoints with customers could encourage loyalty and cross-selling as well as raise brand awareness among potential new guests, the company said.

“We are really excited by the evolving of the Canyon Ranch ecosystem because we believe, strongly, that all aspects of that ecosystem will motivate existing and potential clients to seek the ultimate Canyon Ranch experience at the resorts, including Austin,” said Edward Pitoniak, CEO of Vici Properties.

“Canyon Ranch is a global leader in the strength of relationship with their guests, and that’s because they create a client experience that truly encompasses the totality of the client’s life and aspirations,” Pitoniak said.

Vici also obtained a right to acquire a couple of Canyon Ranch’s properties in Tucson, Arizona, and Lenox, Massachusetts — if the wellness company chooses to sell the real estate. The brand would continue to operate the facilities essentially as a management company. Privately held Canyon Ranch isn’t believed to have had other significant external backers to date.

“In this environment, nothing’s being financed,” Kuster noted. “This just speaks to the vision of Vici to build out these pilgrimage-type destinations. It’s a way for us to get a significant ground-up property built in a really attractive market.”

Bet on Experiential Real Estate

Vici said its support of Canyon Ranch was part of a broader bet on “experiential real estate,” or property that offers consumers experiences they can’t easily replicate at home.

“This can be driven by the physical aspects and magnitude of the real estate,” Pitoniak of Vici said. “It can also be driven by the value of the experience being shared, at the same time, in the same place, face to face.”

Skeptics may wonder if a company delivering something as amorphous as wellness can successfully build a competitive moat with high walls to thrive. But Vici is bullish.

“In certain brand categories, the brand’s differentiation is based on the brand’s intellectual capital,” Pitoniak of Vici said. “What we love about Canyon Ranch is that the team has an unrivaled legacy, within global wellness, at continually advancing its intellectual capital around wellness and manifesting that intellectual capital in its guest experience innovation.”

“Competitive moats can’t be static,” Pitoniak said. “They must be defended every day, and, to use the old saying, the best defense is a strong offense, and we love the way Jeff Kuster and the Canyon Ranch team are on offense, especially as we enter a period of tremendous secular tailwinds behind wellness.”