5 min read

It's no secret that consumers are growing increasingly health-conscious. As more tourism players hone in on the growing wellness market, Grand Hyatt Singapore explains its approach towards healthy lifestyles and offers advice on how other tourism players can adopt wellness.


As the importance of balanced diets, nature, spirituality, fitness and well-being seep into popular culture, industries from food to hospitality are paying greater attention. The tourism sector is especially well-positioned to embrace wellness as more consumers plan trips with mental and physical health in mind. According to the US-based Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the wellness tourism market is projected to hit $919 billion by 2022 from $639 billion in 2017. Asia-Pacific, in particular, is seen as one of the biggest winners. The region is set to overtake North America as the largest market in the physical activity economy, which includes sports, mindful movement, and active recreation, according to the GWI.

Charis Choi, Director of Sales and Marketing at Grand Hyatt Singapore, is not surprised by the phenomenon. Wellness "is the foundation of leisure travel," she said. While people have always travelled to take a break from their daily lives, wellness in the age of the pandemic takes on a different meaning, she described. "Consumers are now more conscious about achieving fulfilment mentally and physically. For us, it is about creating options for travellers who are looking for a purpose-driven experience of unwinding and relaxing. I think the tourism stakeholders who can focus on this will benefit."

At the Grand Hyatt Singapore, where the Global Wellness Summit was held in 2019, healthy living has long been a top priority. "Wellness is not a new thing for Hyatt but I would say our focus on it has increased since the pandemic," said Choi. "When we talk about wellness, our mind typically jumps to the spa and yoga but in the last 12 months or so, our utmost priority at the Hyatt is focusing on the wellbeing of our guests and building assurance through various safety and hygiene measures." This includes the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s GBAC STAR cleanliness accreditation, which is an outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation programme in the cleaning industry. The hotel's food and beverage philosophy also reflects clean living. It sources fruits and vegetables from Cameron Highlands to reduce carbon emissions in addition to running a rooftop garden that supplies up to 30 percent of herbs used in its daily operations.

How partnerships promote wellness across tourism

As part of the hotel's campaign to constantly improve its wellness offerings, it recently formed an alliance with local activewear brand Kydra to create the Recharge Retreat—a staycation at the Grand Hyatt Singapore inclusive of fitness classes, Tai Chi Sessions, nutritional meals and more.

"During the pandemic, we realised everyone is focusing on staycations since the domestic market is all we have. So we asked ourselves, how can we stand out in this industry?" said Choi. "We want to be true to who we are, so we looked for partners who have the same mindset." After receiving good information on local brands from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the hotel landed on Kydra due to the brand's quality-driven approach to functional apparel. For instance, some of Kydra's items are made with Tencel, a material derived from sustainably sourced wood.

Commenting on the partnership, Kydra Co-Founder Jimmy Poh described how working with a people-centric hotel allowed its consumers to see that wellness is not just limited to the gym. "We saw a big market potential with people putting more focus into mental and physical health, so we were keen to enter a collaboration to create Singapore's first wellness staycation," he described. "Before the Grand Hyatt collaboration, we were mainly working with gyms and never actually tried or thought about entering the world of tourism and hotels."

The first round of the Retreat proved so successful that the Hyatt extended the original two day, one night experience to a three days and two night staycation. The hotel also brought more local partners on board such as VegThisCity, an agency that offers free gastronomic tours. "These tours are optional because if our guests just want to chill by the pool, we want to let them achieve their own sense of personal wellness... So when enhancing products, we don't impose our definition of wellbeing but make it flexible for individual preferences," Choi explained.

To date, the business returns on Recharge Retreats remain small since the service is exclusive by nature and does not run every day. "In terms of revenue, it's not a lot but we are still willing to do it because we want to be able to offer diverse services," Choi said. "As a company, you can have your bread-and-butter business but you also need to have different offers to cater to other audiences and diversify your business."

The importance of innovation

To stand out in a very competitive tourism market, it is important to have a flexible mindset when undertaking new projects. Grand Hyatt Singapore "is a very large operation, but the team is constantly looking for ways to further improve ourselves," said Choi. "We have a very strong belief that we can try things and if it doesn't work, no one's being punished, we can just move on. That is why I think that the team has a very positive mindset in trying new things, exploring new collaborations and venturing into new areas."

"For the Recharge Retreat with Kydra, STB’s Wellness department told me they were surprised how the sales and marketing department were coming up with product ideas," she continued. "Normally, the operation team does that but it is great when our divisions can work together for smooth execution."

"Being in the business of care, it is important for us to address the needs of our customers when they need us and constantly try to make their lives a little bit better," she added. "To do this, it is key to be able to try new things whilst still staying true to who you are. Looking for the next best thing is critical under the current as well as future circumstances. To be a future proof business, this is really the most important thing."

Be authentic about wellness

Wellness may be a trend but that does not mean businesses should view it that way, according to Choi. "Consumers are very smart and are able to notice which business is genuine about their intentions... there will be many businesses that will jump on this wellness and sustainability bandwagon but they need to be authentic and honest about it because consumers will be able to tell otherwise." If tourism stakeholders wish to embrace wellness, they need to "commit to it via day-to-day business decisions," she continued. "Wellness and sustainability should become your Northstar as a business."

For instance, companies looking to adopt wellness programs should first do so with their own teams rather than the public. "If our employees are not well, then we are just doing lip service by offering wellness to guests," Choi summed up. That is why Hyatt International has partnered with mindfulness app Headspace to offer meditation to staff, team members and guests. "We want to be genuine and authentic about our focus on wellness," said Choi. The hotel also hosts weekly morning meditation sections via Zoom for its associates. "These are optional because it should be meaningful for the individual, not forced on them," Choi noted.

Forming partnerships with wellness brands is one way the tourism industry can learn more about this growing business. But that is only possible if a company has already incorporated wellness as part of its core identity, Choi said. In addition, tourism players would have to consider their business objectives, as there is no singular formula for success. Kydra's Poh echoed those sentiments. It is important for partners to be aligned in terms of values and strategic goals. "For us at Kydra, we do have a checklist of things that our partners need to have, or at least are trying to embody," he said. "If aligned, we are more than happy to engage with tourism players."

Whether it is complementary therapies, self-care or exercising, it is clear that wellness is a powerful market that the tourism industry can no longer ignore. To really capitalise on this, businesses must understand that healthy living is not just a pop culture trend but a consumer phenomenon that is likely to stay. Only then can firms begin to offer innovative products and services as well as consider forming alliances with wellness stakeholders to dive deeper into this explosive market.


Special thanks to Grand Hyatt Singapore and Kydra for their support and contributions to the development of this story. 

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