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The Wellness Travel Lexicon

by Anne Dimon

Image courtesy of Kamalaya Koi Samui Thailand

Decoding the language of wellness travel

When it comes to the phrase “wellness travel,” are you just a wee bit confused?  You’re not alone. While more  of us look to work elements of wellness into our travels, or plan vacation time with a focus on wellness, everyone is talking about wellness travel. Year after year, surveys from the Global Wellness Summit tell us “wellness travel” is the fastest growing division of the tourism industry.  

Via blogs, social media, web site and print magazine, you’re also hearing terms such as Wellness Vacations, Wellness Retreats, Wellness Traveler. So what do they all mean?  With this new monthly feature, we at the Wellness Tourism Association are here to set the record straight, and to help make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to these new terms that have entered our vocabulary over the last decade.      

In early 2018, just after we launched the Wellness Tourism Association--a not-for-profit organization looking to bring clarity and standards to the growing sector of the tourism industry--we launched the first glossary of definitions. So, as we prepared to launch a new year and a brand new decade, we thought this a good time to share our definitions for these four terms which continue to grow in popularity: 

Wellness Travel

Travel that allows the traveler to maintain, enhance or kick-start a healthy lifestyle,

and support or increase one’s sense of wellbeing.

Wellness Traveler

An individual who makes “wellness” the primary purpose of a trip.

Wellness Vacation/Holiday

Wellness Vacation/Holiday is Wellness Travel powered by a wellness-focused intention. Wellness Vacations/Holidays are typically self-directed with the traveler setting his or her own timetable and schedule. They may also include a Wellness Retreat.

Wellness Retreat

In today’s world, this term actually has two definitions:


A guided, intention-driven, multi-day program with a semi-set schedule, and hosted by one or more facilitators. The program may include learning and lifestyle workshops such as meditation and healthy eating, as well as fitness activities such as yoga, nature walks and hiking.


A smaller facility with accommodations and hospitality services and where the primary purpose is to provide programs and experience for the Wellness Traveler.

The facility may have fewer wellness activities, services and facilities than a Wellness Resort.

Image courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Maya

For inspiration when planning your wellness travels, you’ll find more information on our website; Wellness Tourism Association

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and happy Wellness Travels in 2020.


Anne Dimon is the President of the Wellness Tourism Association,
 and Founder/Editor of www.traveltowellness.com


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