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Wellness retreats and adventure holidays predicted to boom post lockdown

The UK wellness retreat industry is predicted to “boom” following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, according to experts.

Demand for wellness retreats has steadily been on the rise over the past decade, with a 1605% increase in online searches for the term since 2015, including an 81% increase from 2019 to 2020.

Predictably, the industry was amongst those hardest hit by the pandemic but with lockdown restrictions gradually being lifted, research from motorhome rental company, Camptoo, suggests that it is expected to boom – particularly retreats based around outdoor activities.

Yvonne Wake, a wellbeing and lifestyle consultant who hosts her own retreats, says: “Lockdown has drastically affected the wellness retreat industry because of the social distancing rules and the inability to share space.

“However I do expect it to boom once restrictions are lifted as it is the one real thing that is absolutely needed after the past year of limiting conditions, being locked in, being kept away from our usual healthy pursuits, suffering mental health issues, being sad, not being out in the sunshine where we get our best chance of Vitamin D for extra immune protection and so much more. We desperately need to get our health back on track.

Health Retreat growth has been seriously on the rise for the last 20 years and these are now taking over from classic holiday destinations. Almost all countries which usually invite family holiday groups will offer a health and wellness retreat. Self-care is the new health care.

‘It has been shown that a week or two away from everyday stresses are paramount for recharging the batteries and getting back on track. Healthwise it’s important to just STOP which is what wellness retreats provide’

“I don’t see how it (the industry) cannot continue to grow. There’s absolutely no reason to stop an industry where the earning capacity is getting higher by the year.  We have made the break now and people are really starting to understand what is required to take care of themselves better.”

On the overall benefits of booking a retreat, she added: “It has been shown that a week or two away from everyday stresses are paramount for recharging the batteries and getting back on track. Healthwise it’s important to just STOP which is what wellness retreats provide.”

Activity retreats are among the fastest growing in the industry after having experienced a 928% increase in online searches from 2019 to 2020, before peaking in March-May, and Camptoo’s Head of Wanderlust, Ed Bassett, is expecting a similar uptake in interest this year as the UK gradually begins to ease out of lockdown.

“Activity-based holidays are among the fastest-growing in the industry, and there’s never been a more exciting time to be involved. The benefits of a wellness retreat are endless, but we really believe that adding something activity-based in the UK – whether it be kayaking, hiking, surfing, wild swimming, climbing, mountain biking – will take that experience to the next level.”

He added: “The industry was booming prior to lockdown last year and despite being locked away, we can see that that enthusiasm has not dropped and with everyone desperate to get out of their homes, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore the great British outdoors.

“These kinds of activity retreats are brilliant for the mind and body, reconnecting with nature, trying new things, meeting new people and will do no end of good after a tumultuous year. Hiring a camper or motorhome adds yet more adventure to your holiday and you can experience a self isolated, multi destination, multi activity vacation and go as fast or slow as you desire”

Call to Adventure, partnered with Camptoo, are one of the companies expecting to experience a surge in interest in the coming months – particularly after seeing the online search trends favour their services so heavily.

Along with the huge spike in searches for activity holidays, ‘camping retreats’ ‘hiking’ and ‘biking’ also saw a big rise in online queries and all feature in the type of getaways provided by Call to Adventure. 

As well as the high demand for adrenaline-fuelled pursuits, yoga retreats remain popular and saw an 890% increase from January to April in 2020, while searches for meditation retreats also jumped notably.

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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