Part II of Spafinder Wellness 365’s “State of Wellness Travel Report” reveals Millennials & Gen X care even more about wellness offerings at resorts/hotels and spas than Baby Boomers.

Spafinder Wellness 365 released Part II of its eighth-annual State of Wellness Travel Report, based on a survey of travel agents in North America and Europe and designed to offer ongoing insight into wellness travel trends. The new report examined the shifting demographics of the wellness traveler, with a special focus on the impact that age has on traveler’s preferences.

Survey respondents indicate that every wellness element at properties, from healthy food to fitness classes to spiritual healing, ranked as more important for younger travelers (49 and under, Millennials and Gen X), than for Baby Boomers (50 and older), the generation that jumpstarted the wellness revolution. The most significant differences are in outdoor adventure (i.e., hiking, surfing, etc.), environmentally friendly properties, voluntourism programs, and fitness/yoga classes and facilities, which all matter significantly more to younger travelers. The most desirable property types for Baby Boomers are luxury spa resorts, while for Millennials and Gen X, eco/adventure resorts and authentic yoga retreats rank much higher.

Spafinder Wellness Report

The full report (which includes data on key trends and whether men find wellness travel more appealing than spa travel) is available here.

“As Millennials and Gen X become the core wellness tourism demographic, trends are emerging. Not only do younger travelers demand more wellness offerings in general, they seek more intensive, out-in-nature adventure and fitness. And a property’s ‘values,’ such as respect for the environment and whether it gives back to the local community, aren’t niche considerations—they’re more important than traditional sports like golf or tennis,” said Spafinder Wellness, Inc. COO John Bevan. “The survey shines light on what’s ascending for the next generation in wellness travel, but also shows that Boomers still rank traditional spa resorts first. The landscape is expanding, more complex, and less one-size-fits-all than ever.”

Many Wellness Elements Matter to All Travelers

Agents rated the importance of 16 different wellness components/programs to their clients. Every component (whether weight loss or healthy sleep programs) rates as “important” for every age demographic, scoring at least 5.9 out of 10.

All Wellness Components Matter More to Younger Travelers

As the table below illustrates, wellness travel elements are important for all travelers, but they’re even more important to younger travelers (49 and under) than for the 50-plus-group. Even offerings one might associate with older travelers (i.e., hot springs) rank as more important to younger travelers. The differences are more significant in some instances, such as environmentally friendly properties and outdoor adventure programs, but the trend is consistent.

Wellness property elements, ranked 1-10; 1 = “not important at all” and 10 = “extremely important”

Spafinder Wellness 365 study

Hotels Offer Opportunity

Naturally, hotels looking to accommodate the younger generations of travelers are seeking unique and fun ways to provide the wellness opportunities their guests are looking for. Here are some of the ways properties are doing so:

Outdoor Adventure Programs: Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and San Carlos Bay, groups can explore 400 miles of navigable waterways with Dolphin & Sunset Cruises, nature sightseeing tours, BBQ Donut Party Boats and private fishing charters at the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village.

Environmentally friendly: Hilton San Francisco Union Square aims to become zero waste by 2020 by continually revamping operational programs to eliminate waste. Initiatives include measuring groups’ carbon footprints, providing drought-friendly menu options and connecting with non-profits to allocate unused resources.

Volunteerism: Set on a 1,100-acre rainforest, Los Suenos Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort in Costa Rica features a Reforest the Rainforest initiative for groups to preserve the rainforest while creating a habitat for local wildlife by planting a Tropical Almond Tree, beneficial for the preservation of the iconic macaw.

Fitness facilities and classes: Overlooking San Juan’s vibrant skyline all the way to the old city, meetings attendees at Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino can get their Soulcycle on with in-room stationary bikes, available upon request, while taking in sights of the Bay of San Juan.

The Biggest Age “Importance Gaps”

Several wellness components at properties stand out as significantly more important for Millennials and Gen X. The top five “importance gaps” are 1.) outdoor adventure programs (i.e., hiking, surfing, etc.); 2.) environmentally friendly properties; 3.) properties that actively “do good” for local community or have voluntourism programs; and 4.) fitness/yoga classes and facilities; and 5.) beach access.

Baby Boomers Want Luxury Spa Resorts; Millennials & Gen X Rate Eco-Resorts Much Higher.

Agents shared what types of wellness travel properties are most desired/booked by their Baby Boomer and older, and younger Millennial and Gen X, clients.

For the 50-plus crowd, luxury spa resorts (with a focus on relaxation and stress-reduction) rank highest by considerable margins. And the next three types of wellness travel destinations all had parity in scores.

Baby Boomer Top Properties:

1. Luxury spa resort
2. Beach focused (sand-and-sea destinations)
3. Eco resort in wild nature (focus on hiking, adventure, biodiversity/wildlife, etc.)
4. Healthy cruise (w/programming like spas, fitness classes, etc.)

 Millennial & Gen X Top Properties:

For travelers 49 and under, the top three, most desired/booked wellness travel properties (by significant margins, and with great parity) are:

1. Beach focused (sand-and-sea destinations)
2. Eco resort in wild nature (focus on hiking, adventure, biodiversity/wildlife, etc.)
3. Authentic yoga retreats

Gen X: the #1 wellness travel booker

Agents also note which age groups are now most likely to book wellness travel. And as Baby Boomers age, each year they’re increasingly being replaced by Gen X and younger. The top two age groups below lead by significant margins. And the young 26-35 year olds (Millennials) increase their lead on the over-65 this year.

Who books wellness travel?

1. 46-55 (older Gen X and very youngest Boomers)
2. 36-45 (Gen X)
3. 56-65 (heart of the Boomers)
4. 26-35 (Millennials and youngest Gen X)
5. Over 65 (includes oldest Boomers)