Wellness retreats see 81 per cent spike as Brits seek getaways

UK: The UK wellness retreat industry is expecting to see a spike in demand post-lockdown, after new research revealed an 81 per cent increase in online searches in 2020. 

The latest research released by British motorhome rental company Camptoo revealed that wellness, activity and camping retreats have seen a sharp rise in online searches in the past few years.

Demand for wellness retreats has seen a significant spike with a 1,605 per cent increase in the last five years – including an 81 per cent increase in 2020 – despite lockdown, showing people are desperate for a physical and mental break when restrictions are lifted.

The industry is growing quicker than ever and can expect to see another bumper year in 2021, with peak months for bookings and online searches starting in March and running through until the end of summer.

Activity retreats are among the fastest growing in the industry, after experiencing a 928 per cent increase in online searches from 2019 to 2020 before peaking in March-May, and Camptoo’s head of wanderlust, Ed Bassett, is expecting a similar uptake in interest this year as the UK gradually begins to ease out of lockdown.

Bassett said: “Activity-based holidays are among the fastest-growing in the industry, and there’s never been a more exciting time to be involved. The benefits of a wellness retreat are endless, but we really believe that adding something activity-based in the UK – whether it be kayaking, hiking, surfing, wild swimming, climbing, mountain biking – will take that experience to the next level.

“The industry was booming prior to lockdown last year and despite being locked away, we can see that that enthusiasm has not dropped and with everyone desperate to get out of their homes, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore the great British outdoors.

“These kinds of activity retreats are brilliant for the mind and body, reconnecting with nature, trying new things, meeting new people and will do no end of good after a tumultuous year. Hiring a camper or motorhome adds yet more adventure to your holiday and you can experience a self-isolated, multi-destination, multi-activity vacation and go as fast or slow as you desire,” he added.

Adventure tours firm Call to Adventure, which has partnered with Camptoo, is one of the companies anticipating a surge in interest in the coming months – particularly after seeing the online search trends favour their services so heavily.

Along with the spike in searches for activity holidays, “camping retreats”, “hiking” and “biking” also saw a large rise in online queries and all feature in the type of getaways provided by Call to Adventure.

As well as the high demand for adrenaline-fuelled pursuits, yoga retreats remain popular and saw an 890 per cent increase from January to April in 2020, while searches for meditation retreats also jumped notably.

Wellbeing and Lifestyle consultant Yvonne Wake of Wellbeingandlifestyle.co.uk discussed the benefits of wellness retreats: “Refocusing on yourself and engaging in healthy pursuits like yoga, fitness, country walks, meditation, are all brilliant for mental health, and toning the body.

“I don’t see how the industry cannot continue to grow. There’s absolutely no reason to stop an industry where the earning capacity is getting higher by the year. We have made the break now and people are really starting to understand what is required to take care of themselves better.

“I expect it to boom once restrictions are lifted as it is the one real thing that is absolutely needed after the past year of limiting conditions, being locked in, being kept away from our usual healthy pursuits, suffering mental health issues, being sad, not being out in the sunshine where we get our best chance of Vitamin D for extra immune protection and so much more. We desperately need to get our health back on track,” she added.

The peer-to-peer RV rental industry has seen a sustained boom in recent years, driven by demographics such as millennials and baby boomers hitting the road to escape virus hotspots on domestic staycations.

Meanwhile, UK interiors firm Ghyll House Upholstery and Design, which helps owners transform their camper vans, motorhomes and caravans, urged owners to prepare for staycations in 2021 as interest in the segment ramps up in anticipation for a post-lockdown getaway.

Back in our 2021 predictions piece published in December, we predicted that more and more travellers would seek out staycations in rural, off-the-beaten track destinations, and as a result, the recreational vehicle [RV] segment would continue its upward trend, as illustrated by KKR’s recent $100m+ funding round for peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace RVshare.