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Destination spas fund study examining experiences of 2,600 health retreat guests

A group of destination spas have looked at the demographics and motivations of 2,600 retreat-goers from more than 60 countries
The research was suported by Lapinha in Brazil, Bodyholiday in St Lucia, Danubius in Europe, Sheenjoy in China and Elysia (previously Golden Door) in Australia
The greatest relief was most commonly experienced by those suffering from stress (64 per cent), fatigue (61 per cent), back pain (57 per cent) and arthritis
Forty-five per cent felt considerable relief from medical conditions after a health retreat
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Despite the growing popularity of health retreats globally, little to no research explores who goes to them, why and what benefits they get from participating.

With this in mind, a recent study in the International Journal of Spa and Wellness* looked at the demographics and motivations of 2,600 retreat-goers from more than 60 countries.

The research was supported by destination spa operators worldwide including Lapinha in Brazil, Bodyholiday in St Lucia, Danubius in Europe, Sheenjoy in China and Elysia (previously Golden Door) in Australia. Industry figure Marc Cohen was also a co-author.

Retreat motivations

One of the main reasons for going on a retreat is relaxation and a holiday (30 per cent), according to the findings, followed by improving general health and learning coping mechanisms (18 per cent) and reducing stress and improving mental health (also 18 per cent).

Nearly all respondents felt better (74 per cent) or somewhat better (22 per cent) after a retreat stay.

In addition, the vast majority felt so happy that they would return or recommend the stay (71 per cent) or were satisfied that it was worth the time and money (25 per cent).

Managing diseaseForty-one per cent of respondents had one or more medical conditions and of those, 45 per cent experienced considerable relief from symptoms and another 26 per cent said it helped slightly.

The greatest relief was most commonly experienced by those suffering from stress (64 per cent), fatigue (61 per cent), back pain (57 per cent) and arthritis.

Yet longitudinal and randomised controlled studies are still needed to prove the effectiveness of specific programmes.

Self-funding majority

Other findings confirm the importance of local source markets, with 64 per cent living less than 5 hours away from retreats.

The ongoing need to strengthen ties with medical institutions was also highlighted. Despite the potential for retreats to help with escalating healthcare costs, very few participants were referred by practitioners.

Instead, they visited retreats following recommendations (50 per cent) or online searches (37 per cent). What's more, a mere 3 per cent of people received either health insurance or government funding, with an overwhelming majority valuing their health so much that they paid for themselves.

Findings were published in the paper Vacation or therapy? Demographics, motivations and experiences of wellness retreat guests around the world in July 2023.

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Despite the growing popularity of health retreats globally, little to no research explores who goes to them, why and what benefits they get from participating.
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The Leisure Media Company Ltd
The Leisure Media Company Ltd