The Global Wellness Institute has tracked a 12% growth every year since 2020. Another 52% growth is projected by 2027, reaching a $8.5T valuation. If you follow the money, you follow wellness. If you follow wellness, trek along with me. Here are my top 10 wellness travel stories of 2023.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sin City? A top wellness destination? Absolutely! The hiking trails and great outdoor adventures- just a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip- are the stuff wellness wanderlusts dig. If I ever had an hankering to move from Austin, Texas, it would be to Las Vegas. You can bet your chips it wouldn’t be for the gambling or shows. It would be to trek the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, day in and day out.
Sensei Porcupine Creek, Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs has a new ultra-luxury wellness destination that’s not just another spa resort to help you unravel life’s stressors. Sensei Porcupine Creek addresses the science behind your stress, strain, and sleep and helps guide you to a plan for optimal well-being. Sensei is a passion project, founded by Larry Ellison and Dr. David Agus, to guide people to live healthy lives, rich with movement, nourishment, and rest. Dr. Agus is a world-renowned medical expert who has published hundreds of scientific articles on preventative medicine. Sensei Porcupine Creek is preventative medicine in a wellness retreat. The world’s best and freshest fish are flown in daily to Nobu at Sensei Porcupine Creek. The most nutrient-rich sushi you’ll ever eat is, ironically, in the desert.
Turks and Caicos
The Turks and Caicos islands are home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Grace Bay Beach. I felt compelled to give one more beach destination a try, as many people find the ocean to be quintessential wellness. I came, I explored, and I hold true to my preconceived notion. The mountains are my calling. For those who love the ocean, we don’t need to argue about it. I dipped my toes in the sand for journalistic purposes in 2023. This destination makes it in my Top 10 for you. For me, I’ll pass on the flip flops and ruck a trail while you’re at the beach in 2024. Let that empty umbrella chair be me.
Top Pool Triathlons in Texas
Multi-sport events aren’t for everyone. I swore off triathlons. Twice. My first triathlon was in 2003. I ended up treading water and doing the elementary back stroke in the Gulf of Mexico for most of the swim. It was a pathetic race. 18 years later, I returned. I competed in the 2021 Quarter-distance Kerrville Tri. They say it’s the “most scenic tri in Texas.” I didn’t find the scenery of other people’s propeller arms and flutter kicks nearly drowning me to the bottom of a lake to be very scenic. This year, I returned to triathlons, for the love of a good story. I completed my fifth triathlon in August, an event that I’d call my favorite triathlon, to date. It may have something to do with the jets in a Lazy River turned on, gently pushing me along through my least favorite part: the swim. Wellness travel took three parts in this exploration: swimming, biking, and running.
New York City, New York
Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it- New York, New York! With the pollution, cigarette smoke, pot smoke, and overall feelings of needing a shower, this choice, too, may make spark curiosity as to why NYC is on my list of top wellness destinations. This made the list for motherly wellness: to bond with my 10-year-old son. Wellness, to me, hits high notes, like “and I” in Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” when I connect with my children. For my 42nd birthday, I surprised Hayes with a trip to New York City. We toured the Museum of Broadway, met Robin Roberts, roller skated Central Park, saw a show on Broadway, and caught the New York-exclusive Pokemon. Fun fact: The creator of PokemonGO, John Hanke, was inspired to build PokemonGo as a way to get his 11-year-old son, who was glued to electronic devices indoors, outside and walking. If you, too, have a child who is enamored by the arts– but takes some convincing to pull off of electronic device on the sofa– a surprise trip to New York City may be just the wellness trip for you, too.
The Woodhouse Day Spa, Lubbock, Texas
I said what I said.
Lubbock, Texas makes it on the list as a top wellness destination for one reason: the brand new Woodhouse Day Spa.
Owner, Erica Miller Davenport, opened The Woodhouse Day Spa in Lubbock in a commercial shopping center a decade and a half ago. Last year, she broke ground on this new build, which more than doubled the footprint of the spa. At >7,000 square feet, The Woodhouse Day Spa Lubbock is the largest day spa in Northwest Texas. We attended the grand opening ceremony on September 21, 2023, and enjoyed mini services, like express massages and facials. We will have to go back for the regal wellness treatment. You really must, too.
This article on The Woodhouse Day Spa Lubbock (former location) is a deviation from my 2023 stories. This one was written in 2020. It was my first wellness travel article- ever! Prior to this, my writing was all fitness-specific (like “How to Get Abs and Keep Them”). Three years later, I’m still hailing The Woodhouse Day Spa Lubbock; still wellness travel writing; and still captivated by the wellness and well-being industry. Hopefully, my travel writing eloquence has improved since then (I think it has!).
As the wellness industry has boomed, it comes as no surprise that wellness services have ridden the wave. Restore Hyper Wellness has expanded from one location in Austin, Texas to over 200 locations over the span of just a few years. (Considering investing in a franchise? The initial $913,000 investment cost is estimated to repay itself in seven years.) Among other “prehab” services, Restore Hyper Wellness offers red light therapy, cryotherapy, infrared sauna, mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and IV drip therapy. Being the humble giant of proactive wellness services, Restore Hyper Wellness had to make the list of my Top 10 Wellness Travel Stories of 2023.
Sensei Lanai, Lanai, Hawaii
Lanai, Hawaii may be considered the last unspoiled island in Hawaii. This intimate island, predominantly owned by Larry Ellison, is a destination for those who appreciate the lush beauty of Hawaii and wish to experience it without crowds– and have beaucoup money to spend. Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, knows wellness like Taylor Swift knows marketing. In other words, nobody does it better. My coverage of this wellness retreat was featured in Texas Lifestyle Magazine in 2021. Last month, Marika Flatt, Texas Lifestyle Magazine’s co-founder and travel editor, experienced the property. Her brush strokes paint a vivid picture of paradise. Sensei Lanai. Potato potato.
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado
When The Broadmoor opened its doors in 1918, founder, Spencer Penrose, said that it was “built for tomorrow.” 105 years later, and now offering guests a resort, three wilderness properties, Colorado’s most majestic waterfall, and a railway up Pikes Peak, truer words may never have been spoken. All of the properties nourish well-being. The wilderness properties, specifically The Ranch at Emerald Valley, captivated my soul.
If you had asked me in 2022 if I could possibly love anywhere in the Colorado Springs area more than I love the Manitou Incline, I would have said no. Impossible. In 2023, after experiencing this property, I’ve got to say that I have changed my mind.
Regal Princess, Princess Cruises
Xponential Fitness, the largest global franchisor of boutique fitness brands, signed a five-year licensing agreement with Princess Cruises. Besides giving my children a week off of school, which they considered to be wellness extraordinaire, I yearned to embark on Regal Princess in order to experience YogaSix, CycleBar, and Club Pilates. Staying fit while cruising has been a message I have delivered for quite some time. It was refreshing to set sail on Regal Princess, where programming is intended to get guests in ship shape, not the shape of the ship.
As we close the year of 2023, I leave you with well wishes and unplanned adventures.
Go rogue; get outdoors; poke around and find out.
I wish you curiosity and travel. Come back home with a story. People love a good story.
Be well. Not just because it’s good for you. Be well because it’s good for everyone.