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Updated: Nov 6, 2020

An opportunity for forward-thinking travel companies?

We need to engage the brain to take advantage of the latest trend in wellness

In their excellent book, The 100 Year Life, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott argue that, as people live, and work for longer, there will be a need for more time to be spent in re-creation than recreation.

‘If the last 100 years saw the development of a leisure industry that privatised public entertainment based around consumption, then we can expect a growing leisure industry aimed at the individual, self-improvement and leisure as investment’.

In the US at least, this increased focus on ‘re-creation’ is driving and trend for wellness to encompass far more than physical and mental health.

As Skift reported in their end of year Wellness Trends Report, ‘a decade ago, if you were having a midlife crisis, you’d buy a new car, get a new haircut, or maybe pick up a new hobby. But these days, turning 50; or whatever age you deem “midlife”; isn’t what it used to be. A new wave of adults are eschewing the gadgets, luxury home remodels, and beauty treatments. Sensing this shift, travel is helping to reframe ageing, longevity, and what it means to be at midlife.

In the UK since 2011, most employees have had the right to decide at what age they want to retire. With average life expectancy at birth now 79 years for men and 83 years for women, there is an increasing financial need, and often a desire, to work until later in life. The challenges are having the motivation, relevant skills and health. The last of these, good health, remains an issue as average as ‘healthy life expectancy’ is just 63 years for men and 64 for women.

For the travel industry wellness, and specifically the trend for re-creation and re-directing lives represents a big opportunity. The core target market are likely to have the financial resources and, if they are making a career change, the time.

Unfortunately, in Europe at least, wellness is still focussed on yoga, meditation, spas and healthy eating. This market is certainly growing but you have to look to the US for operators capitalising on the demand for transformation in mid-life.

The Elevation Barn ( focuses on how successful people in their 40s and 50s can repurpose themselves. It pitches itself to industry leaders as helping them to “gain clarity on your next chapter.” The Elevation Barn has retreats in New York, Utah, Norway and Bali. They plan to open in Patagonia, Sydney, Singapore and London in 2020.

The Modern Elder Academy ( based in Baja California Sur, Mexico claims to be the world's first midlife wisdom school. It offers 5 and 7-day all-inclusive workshops with titles including ‘The Consciously Created Life’, ‘Your Career Mindset Shift’ and ‘Successful but not Satisfied’. With a cost of around £4,000 for a week excluding travel; it should be a proposition and audience on the radar for more forward-thinking travel companies.

This month I looked through the lists of the ‘best wellness retreats from The London Evening Standard, The Times and The Telegraph. They all looked wonderful; but not one included a resort or retreat with a focus on mid-life transformation.

I’m sure this won’t be the case a year from now.

Huw Williams. November 2020

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