Healing Hotels - bringing better choices to traveller
Anne Biging, Founder of Healing Hotels of the World, will be speaking on the topic of the ‘Evolution of Investing in Holistic Hospitality’ at the Future Hospitality Summit Saudi Arabia, taking place in Riyadh from May 7 to 9.As the only global quality brand for healing hospitality, HHW has over 100 hotels and resorts under its umbrella located on all continents. With a strong focus on holistic health and healing, its partner hotels are for the healing traveller who wants to break free from old life patterns and allow new wisdom and better lifestyle choices to unfold. TTN’s Rashi Sen spoke to Biging on the journey led to the establishment of the brand and its growth. Excerpts from the interview: Please tell us about the establishment of HHW and the motivation behind it. I was looking for places while travelling the world as a journalist and author that give you spaces to relax, learn, recharge and help you to get back in touch with your natural self. Visiting the first spa destination Ananda in the Himalayas in India, fully dedicated to healing, I realised the value of these kinds of hotels for the individual as well as change makers for a new holistic lifestyle. This is when I decided to create Healing Hotels of the World to promote these kinds of hotels and to set quality standards. For the past 15 years, Healing Hotels of the World has been at the forefront of the holistic healing movement—turning our extensive healing and hospitality knowledge into actionable wisdom. We continually blaze new trails; creating definitive standards for healing excellence in an ever-evolving world of awakening and shifting values. Was there a market gap? The market gap was and still is that there are no clearly defined standards. With many hotels rushing into the “spa and wellness” space, there is a need for guests to be able to differentiate between true holistic wellbeing experiences versus superficial or substandard ones. With the Healing Hotels Excellence Standards, we offer the hotel industry a clearly defined benchmark and an orientation for the guest. When Healing Hotels was founded, healing and transformative travel were not understood whereas today it is the leading trend in tourism. Could you share any relevant statistics that show that people are increasingly looking for these types of experiences when travelling? Before the pandemic, wellness travel was growing twice as fast as normal tourism and wellness spending was substantially outpacing GDP growth (5.8% vs. 1.1%*). Now, the need for health and healing is even stronger than ever before. The market share of wellness tourism in 2022 was estimated at $817 billion. The growth rate for Wellness Tourism estimated till 2025 is expected to be 20.9%. Do you also have a staycation market? What about MICE/weddings etc? During Covid in many of our partner hotels the guests stayed for a long period of time. This introduced the concept of staycation or workation: Guests stay a long time and also work from there. To name only a few partner hotels who explicitly talk about this (of course it is possible in all places): Rancho la Puerta/Mexico, The Farm/Philippines, New Life/Portugal, Kamalaya/Thailand and many more. Are your clients the consumers or the hotels? Are you B2B2C or more B2B? Hotels: We have both clients, the hotels and the consumer. Hotels and resorts are vetted according to the Healing Hotels Excellence Standards and can apply for membership. We also consult existing or new hotels how to become a Healing Hotel. Consumer: Many of our activities are directed to reach out to the consumer, inform them about the offerings of our partner hotels, educate them about a holistic lifestyle and enable bookings for our hotel members. How many hotels have partnered with you so far and when will you have partners in the Middle East? (Do you already have potential partners in the region?) How many hotels do you aim to onboard this year - do you have a number in mind? We have around 90 partner hotels from 37 countries. In the Middle East, we have one member hotel: Anavrin Equestrian Retreat & Sports Club. This extraordinary resort fulfils the guests’ longing to be close to nature especially with animals as it offers equine therapy along with many other healing treatments. As the Middle East has the potential to become a healing destination, we have several other consulting projects there. As the statistic shows, healing travel is more in demand than ever before. Requests for membership have increased significantly. In this very dynamic world situation, it is very difficult to make a forecast. What attracts hotels to join HHW? (Is it added revenue/niche catchment area/branding perceptions etc?) Benefits of Membership: The added values to join Healing Hotels are manifold. Here are some examples: • Quality certification / branding perception / positioning • Increased visibility / access to healing community/network • Marketing towards consumer and travel trade • Access to our expertise and support for ongoing development • Higher performance through the healing client: Annual occupancy, revenue per room, length of stay, incremental spending, repeat visits Do they have to meet stringent criteria to be on board? A Healing Hotel is not a hotel with a spa, but the whole hotel has to be healing. Our criteria cover all aspects of the hotel operation. A hotel which applies will be vetted according to the Healing Hotel Excellence Standards. As every Healing Hotel is different there are a huge variety of healing offerings ranging from emotional healing, stress release, Ayurveda, detox, better sleep, spirituality, weight loss, yoga and many more. Tell us about a few unique healing/wellness journeys you offer? For example, the Euphoria Retreat in Greece offers the following healing program called Odysseus Journey • Group Session Through the 5 Elements • Group Forest Meditation and Energy Movement • Group 5 Element Dance Therapy • Salt Room • Group Euphoria Byzantine Hammam Ritual • 5 Element Balancing • Sanctuary for Busy Minds • Watsu • Labyrinth Meditation • Use of fitness and spa facilities • Royal Euphoria Bodywork • Transformation Consultation • Reflexology Who are majority of the travelers as of now? As the hotels are all around the world so are the customers of Healing Hotels of the World. Our top 10 demographics are: the US, Germany, China, UK, India, Switzerland, UAE, Canada, Austria and Italy From what I know, Healing Hotels is fairly a new concept in the Arab world – do you have many Arabs booking through you? We have Arabian costumers booking through us mainly to come to Europe. What we want to see is that the concept of healing and Healing Hotels gains ground in the Middle East. We see a huge potential since the Arabian hospitality creates the perfect environment for a healing journey and there are many Arabian healing modalities that would be a great asset to show to the world. In this way healing would be much more accessible for the Arabian customer.