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Emotional healing, self-development, retreats: Photi reveals trends to watch in wellness travel

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The wellness travel market will continue the dramatic change seen over the last decade, according to Stella Photi, founder of Wellbeing Escapes.

Photi spoke at the Wellness Travel Symposium – organised by the Global Wellness Institute and held as part of the World Travel Market in London this week.

She shared her insights into consumer behaviour and interests gained from working directly with her large base of wellness travel consumers.

Photi said that when she first started her business 12 years ago, much of the focus in wellness travel was about looking good on the outside. “We didn’t hear a lot about stress – stress was worn in those days as a badge of honour,” she said. “Today, that has changed so much – 50 per cent of the people who call us openly admit to suffering from huge levels of stress and burnout.”

Photi, whose London-based agency was named ‘Best Specialist Tour Operator’ by The Telegraph, said customers today are looking for a place that they can rest and find themselves again – and sleep.

“We have a market obsessed with wellness or wellbeing, and people are really feeling that they want a slice of it,” said Photi.

Emotional healing is also very important in wellness travel, said Photi, whose company markets a series of holidays under a section called ‘Heartbreak Healers’ – consistently one of the most popular sections of the website.

“It’s a big area – people feel like they want to heal from traumatic events in their lives, and they’re looking for nurturing, caring environments,” said Photi. “Things like learning a new skill or meditation workshops are popular."

She added that retreats are becoming increasingly important – so much so that she has backed a new retreat business, Queen of Retreats. Retreats can often help guests make connections with others, an important component of wellbeing, and which people may be missing at large luxury hotels.

“People are looking to be in a small group environment, and connect with like-minded people,” Photi explained, adding that wellness holidays can be addictive. “People come back again and again – the repeat customer level is very high, and every time people come back, they add a bit more."

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The wellness travel market will continue the dramatic change seen over the past 10 years, according to Stella Photi, founder of Wellbeing Holidays.
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