Almost 4 decades have passed since the 35th President of The United States, JF Kennedy famously proclaimed that “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the very basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” Today, personal health and wellness has truly become central to everyone’s daily life. At $3.4 Trillion, the global wellness market today is estimated to be almost 3 times larger than the worldwide pharmaceutical market.
The Indian market is also reflective of these global trends of rapid expansion in the wellness segment.
India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. It is renowned as the land of mysticism and Moksha. It is the proverbial womb of philosophy and religion. From the Himalayas to the temples of Central & South India, the country has always been identified as the holy abode of Gods & Goddesses. India is also the birth place of Spirituality, Yoga, Ayurveda and other traditional healing systems. The country enjoys a distinct competitive advantage due to its rich culture of ancient healing systems and practises. At Prognosis Global Consulting, we believe that development of boutique and exclusive health & wellness resorts and destination spas that offer signature wellness programs, mediation, yoga, holistic relaxation and rejuvenation experiences, aimed at integrated transformation of body and mind, is an untapped opportunity that is likely to yield great dividends for early market entrants in the next few years.
Each individual destination and the product positioning will dictate the strategic direction to the overall asset development plans. Our endeavor in this article is to provide a brief perspective on the overall market opportunity as it exists for development of wellness resorts and destination spas in India.
By 2030, it is estimated that approximately 600 million people will be urbanized and live in cities across India. While there has been much focus and activity in hospitality projects in key leisure markets, very little development activity has actually been done to tap the potential of tertiary leisure markets located in close proximity to urban centers. Historically, most leisure travel, both domestic as well as international, has always been highly concentrated within a few popular travel circuits. These popular leisure destinations have become victims of unplanned urbanization and they have regressed in their overall holiday experience being provided. Over the last decade there has been a marked improvement in both road and air connectivity to remote destinations. According to our study of emerging leisure markets in India, we have identified close to 90+ tertiary leisure markets witnessing sustained demand from leisure travel. It is our opinion that, these tertiary getaway destinations, that are located within 1-2 hours driving distances from key leisure markets, are uniquely positioned for development of wellness resorts and destination spas. These newer gateway destinations will witness increased traffic and are estimated to grow in the range of 28.0% - 30.0% annually over the long term.
While conceptualizing wellness resorts and destination spas, special emphasis needs to be given to the overall product design and site development plans. It is critical to integrate all buildings and facilities into the natural landscape to give a primary sense of belonging to nature. The project environs should emanate an overall sense of exclusivity and understate luxury, while delivering an enhanced experience of serenity, solitude, mental peace, physical wellbeing and relaxation. Our recommendation is to experiment with a sophisticated combination of modern building methods and natural materials for construction. Adoption of contemporary cultural approaches for defining theme-based designs can also be considered. The product design philosophy needs to be defined such as to provide a sense of ‘exclusive understate luxury’, ‘eco-friendly environments’ and ‘one-with-nature’. The use of materials that bind the textures of the buildings to their local environment, resulting in an extremely humane complex is critical for seamless experience of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. While the exteriors, facades and overall landscaping could be more natural in its approach, the interiors and fit outs could be based on thematic designs that provide a sense of space and serenity. The recommended approach also has a significant cost arbitration opportunity.
Within the wellness industry, three large segments account for more than half of the market in India;
The definition of an overall wellness and treatment philosophy for the project will play a critical role in demanding patronage and customer loyalty. Primary focus of the product needs to be towards consistent delivery of customized preventive and curative wellness programs based on traditional healing systems. The hallmark of the wellness and healing philosophy for the project should center around a non-medicine-based detoxification and cleansing approach. It would also be advantageous to include long-term off-site continuous health management packages wherein a guest, post the initial diagnosis and treatment period at the resort, will continue to receive guidance. The presence of a team of designated lifestyle & health consultants who will assist with continued monitoring, therapy realignments and facilitate future visitations needs to be considered.
Trends in global leisure travel indicate that there is a visible shift from quantity to quality. For the discerning wellness customers, selection is likely to be less about opulence and more about curated minimalism. Keeping in line with these shifting trends, product and services delivery model for new developments should pivot towards serving a niche market that seeks comprehensive health assessments, customized treatment plans and curated health solutions for modern living. The entire stay experience should be developed around preventive wellness programs based on the three ancient Indian healing systems of Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga. The endeavor for wellness resorts and destination spas should be to host its customers in world class accommodation facilities that induces a sense of space, peace and relaxation. Further, development of culinary experiences based on primarily vegetarian, sattvic, and organic cuisines is imperative as it will significantly aid the healing processes in the wellness programs.
The economy’s buoyancy, initiatives to improve infrastructure, easing of visa restrictions and, perhaps, most importantly, efforts to communicate the ‘Brand India’ message – will continue to fuel demand for travel and tourism across destinations. India’s wellness resorts and destination spas segment, while still at its infancy, is increasingly being viewed as investment-worthy, both within the country and outside. The long-term outlook for this niche segment in India is positive and will continue to remain so, in our opinion. From deserts to oceans, rainforests to mountains - India is a land offering extremely diverse travel destinations and over the next decade, India is all set to emerge as one of the world’s fastest growing wellness tourism markets and will be hard to ignore.
As of now, the great Indian travel boom is surely an oasis and development of Wellness Resorts and Destination Spas is the next incredible market opportunity!