Issue No. 189: Destination Wellness

Illustration: Courtney Powell

Beyond bougie spas or luxury resorts, wellness is redefining travel.


For many, personal well-being is a top priority, even when traveling.

A step further, when hitting the road for business or pleasure, consumers want to enhance their health, not erode it.

As a result, wellness tourism boomed before being grounded during the pandemic.

  • A $720B market in 2019, wellness tourism fell to $436B in 2020.
  • Bouncing back, the industry is projected to reach $1.3T by 2025.

Globetrotting. Driving this trend, pent-up demand and severe burnout have people packing their bags. In particular, mental health and holistic well-being are top of mind.

  • 68% of travelers are planning trips to improve mental well-being.
  • Nearly half of US millennial and Gen Z travelers want to take a wellness or healing trip in the next year, per research firm Destination Analysts.

Soul-searching. Along those lines, health guru Deepak Chopra thinks fostering spirituality, building mental resilience, and spending time in nature will be key drivers for post-pandemic wellness travel.

Bon Voyage

More than high rollers or exclusive retreats, travelers who partake in wellness-focused activities on leisure or business trips drive the majority of spending in this space.

With consumers pursuing an ever-expanding definition of wellness, airlines, hotels, fitness brands, and even employers are taking notice.

Now boarding. Catering to weary travelers, AmEx tapped Calm to open a relaxation space inside IAH’s Centurion Lounge. Spinning up partnerships, Peloton bikes are available at Capital One’s DFW lounge and Virgin’s Heathrow Clubhouse.

Making cramped quarters more tolerable while reaching a captive audience, fitness and mindfulness brands are taking to the skies.

Joining partnerships like Peloton x Delta, in recent months, JetBlue teamed with Open, and American Airlines signed on obé fitness.

Tackling long-haul flights, Qantas plans to add a dedicated “wellbeing zone” to future aircraft, complete with on-screen fitness content, healthy snacks, and a hydration station.

Upgraded amenities. Hotels want big-spending, health-minded travelers to be their guests.

  • According to the GWI, domestic wellness travelers spend 178% more than the average tourist.
  • An American Express survey found that 76% of respondents will spend more on travel to improve their well-being.

Pushing into hospitality, NYC’s Equinox Hotel is designed for high-performance. Billed as the “fittest hotel on earth,” the five-star stay includes an onsite Equinox gym, spa, hot/cold tubs, healthy meals, and more.

Part vacation, part biohacking, Four Seasons Maui works with Next|Health to offer IV drips, vitamin shots, and even stem cell therapy. Plus, guests who complete biomarker testing prior to their stay receive a personalized food and activity itinerary based on their results.

Elsewhere, from workouts to shut-eye, hotels are getting in shape.

F45 Training recently announced its first in-hotel studio coming to Hilton Austin. Connected fitness brands are also moving in — with 87% of Peloton users more likely to stay somewhere that offers the brand’s smart bike.

Helping guests recharge, smart mattress makers Bryte and Eight Sleep are inking hospitality partnerships. And Hyperice is stocking recovery gear at hotel spas and fitness centers.

All-inclusive. Planning immersive escapes, brands are taking devotees on health-themed excursions. Led by surf legend Laird Hamilton, XPT offers multi-day retreats complete with underwater workouts, while Wim Hof hosts ice bath and breathwork adventures.

Dedicated to transformation and renewal, The Class creator Taryn Toomey leads “Retreatment” getaways. NYC’s THE WELL partnered with Auberge Resorts for holistic health retreats and longevity programs. Teaming with Celebrity Cruises, goop is bringing woo-woo wellness to the high seas.

Rework. An emerging trend, employers are reimagining off-time to curb burnout.

Dubbed the “No Vacation Nation,” a majority of US workers don’t use all their paid vacation days. Worse, since the pandemic’s onset, most Americans delayed or canceled vacation plans, increasing stress and anxiety.

Stepping in, Nike closed its corporate offices for a well-being week last summer, a move they’ll repeat this year. Going big, Salesforce leased a 75-acre resort, creating an employee work-and-wellness center complete with yoga classes and hiking trails.

Another approach, upstarts like Wander and Barnfox are catering to remote workers. The former has raised $32M to offer souped-up smart homes for luxe workcations, while the latter is a work/retreat club with member-only accommodations.

Looking Ahead

Despite rising costs, staffing shortages, and high inflation in the near term, consumers are intent on traveling, even if that means overspending.

As Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern recently noted, “we’re not seeing any discernible moment or timeline where [demand] is going to fall off.”

Likewise, the proliferation of wellness shows no signs of slowing. Fueling further convergence with travel, consumers will pay a premium for experiences that enhance their mind, body, and spirit. Seeing dollar signs, health, fitness, and hospitality brands are lining up to cash in.

🛶 Ergertainment

Content may be king, but instructor-led workouts aren’t the only show in town. Connected fitness companies are betting on game-based content.

On the Fitt Insider Podcast: Aviron founder & CEO Andy Hoang discusses how the massive opportunity in video games led to an innovative rowing experience.

We also cover: bootstrapping the company, pivoting from commercial to at-home sales, and prepping for a potential recession.

Listen to today’s episode here

🔑 Members Only

There’s a new luxury fitness club in LA. Meet HEIMAT, a 75K-square-foot, five-floor, members-only community.

Trend watch. As we detailed in Issue No. 184, social wellness experiences are in high demand. On-trend, HEIMAT aims to foster connection through fitness, relaxation, dining, and more.

Besides free weights and cardio machines, the space features six purpose-built studios, customized by exercise modality. Spa treatments, dry sauna, and IV therapy round out the holistic health offering. A restaurant, bar, rooftop pool, and work spaces add to the clubhouse vibe.

Living well. Developed by RSG Group—the Germany-based owner of Gold’s Gym, JOHN REED, and Europe’s McFit fitness chains—HEIMAT wants to push the limits of living well.

Unlike Remedy Place, an LA-based wellness club competitor creating a “temptation- and toxin-free” environment, HEIMAT isn’t harping on discipline and sacrifice.

As Sebastian Schoepe, the head of RSG Group North America, sees it, living well is “not just fitness, but also social and indulgence,” telling Bloomberg:

“You can go out on a Friday night and get some drinks or get hammered. But Saturday morning you show up at the gym. It may not be your best workout, but you have to have both.”

Punchline: Club, community, hangout — call it what you will… HEIMAT and other health-minded spots believe people want more in-person wellness experiences, not less. Reimagining the third space in a post-pandemic world, RSG Group is eyeing locations in Paris, San Francisco, Dallas, and Berlin.

👇 Moving Downmarket

Seeking mass appeal, connected fitness companies are shrinking their products and price points.

Put ’em up. Liteboxer debuted go-anywhere shadowboxing workouts, syncing its digital platform to wrist-worn sensors.

Launching with bulky punching bags, the connected boxing company has been moving away from cumbersome—and expensive—equipment.

A first step, Liteboxer unveiled its VR experience for Meta Quest. Now, its shadowboxing wearables come with a monthly content subscription, while existing users can simply add (for a one-time fee) the sensors to their existing membership.

The price is right. With connected fitness facing waning demand, strategies have started to shift.

While companies like Peloton slashed prices and toyed with their business model, other equipment makers prioritized accessibility.

As Liteboxer CEO Jeff Morin told us, there’s a much larger market beyond high-earners:

“There are only so many people with $2K to spend on hardware. Companies will need to tap into the lower part of the income pyramid to find their next set of customers.”

Playing nicely. A related development, as omnichannel fitness takes hold, Tempo CEO Moawia Eldeeb said home equipment can complement IRL workouts, adding:

“​​We’re going to start seeing more reasonably priced solutions that provide users with a great workout without breaking the bank.”

With that context in mind, it’s no wonder that Liteboxer and Tempo have released products like “Go” and “Move,” respectively, while Peloton rolled out “Guide.”

Takeaway: Far from a winner-take-all market, fitness is multi-faceted, and exercisers call the shots. With consumers favoring convenience, personalization, and variety, brands must prioritize price, content, and talent to compete.

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📰 News & Notes

💰 Money Moves

  • Kins, a hybrid physical therapy clinic, added $4M in seed funding led by W Health Ventures.
    More from Fitt Insider: The Business of Movement Health
  • Serotonin Centers, a franchise of anti-aging and hormone treatment clinics, raised $6.5M in funding.
    More from Fitt Insider: Wellness Studios Scale Up
  • Digital weight management platform Enara secured $6M in a funding round led by Offline Ventures.
    More from Fitt Insider: Weight of the World
  • Chinese connected strength startup Mitao secured $30M in a funding round led by IDG.
  • OME Health, a UK-based B2B health and nutrition coaching platform, closed an undisclosed funding round.
  • Munk Pack, maker of keto snack bars, closed a $5M funding round.
  • CTRL, a nutrition brand for gamers, raised an undisclosed funding round and launched meal replacement bars.
  • Esports performance startup Adamas, a platform offering out-of-game mental and physical training, acquired European competitor Gscience.
  • PlantBaby, makers of plant-based milk designed for kids, added $4M in a seed round.
  • Germany-based Wingfield, maker of an AI tennis trainer, raised a €4M ($4.24M) Series A and will expand to the US.
  • Current Foods, makers of plant-based salmon and tuna, pulled in $18M from Astanor Ventures, NBA star Chris Paul, and others.
  • Hank, an active events platform for adults over 55, secured $7M in a seed round co-led by General Catalyst and Resolute Ventures.
  • Plant-based ice cream maker Eclipse Foods added $40M in a Series B round led by Sozo Ventures.

Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, and Ryan Deer.

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