09 JAN 2018: Goodbye turmeric and hello kombucha. Anyone care for a round of extreme bathing? Feeling like you need more crystals in your life? Who needs the tropics when you have nootropics. Welcome to just a few of the 2018 wellness trends according to experts. Are they just wishful thinking or will the general public latch on?

The Global Tourism Institute (GTI) defines wellness as, "The active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health." Wellness tourism according to GTI is, "Travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one's personal wellbeing."

I simply define it as what makes you feel good. It may be wellness at a physical, social, emotional, sexual or intellectual level - or a combination of those. A hike in the forest, river kayaking, a horseback ride in the countryside, a wine tasting, a family dinner or a romantic rendezvous with your spouse or companion. The wellness industry also means big bucks - the global wellness economy according to GTI was worth $3.7 trillion, yes trillion, in 2015 and will continue to grow in the future.

2017 was a horrific and devastating year for this planet and its people with a series of natural disasters from hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Deadly terrorist incidents, wars, ethnic cleansing and incessant pollution all contributed to an increasingly stress-filled and worrisome state of mind. Now more than ever people need a healthy dose of wellness.

Many wellness experts and health and spa publications have come out with a variety of spa, wellness and health trends for 2018. Some so-called trends border on ridiculous and I can hardly see them going mainstream while others have merit and hopefully will catch on with the general population.

Here are a few of the trends from various sources that caught my eye for 2018:


You probably won't be seeing kombucha at your favourite watering hole, but expect the grocery, drug store and health food stores to be stocking it big time this year. Kombucha is a fermented and let's be honest, foul smelling drink made from black or green tea, bacteria, and sugars. This vinegar-like tasting drink isn't a new concoction. It goes back 2,000 years in ancient China and was used to treat a number of ailments including cancer. What's old is new again - this time in nifty modern packaging. Some people brew their own kombucha but you need to be careful. Kombucha, proponents say, improves your digestion, reduces stress, increases energy, and eases hypertension and constipation.


Who couldn't use a few more brain cells. Expect to see many ads and testimonials for "smart" drugs or nootropics. These are synthetic compounds that give the brain a boost and improve cognitive function, memory, and provide more focus. They are used especially when you need your mind sharp. Med students, musicians, military and executives have used them. Personally, I rather go the natural way and double my servings of fish that are filled with those brain friendly Omega 3s.


Extreme bathing is something I have experienced a number of times and a trend catching on with many spas and wellness centres. What is it? Relax in the comfy confines of a sauna with sweat pouring off your body. Rather than go for a luke-warm shower jump into a cold plunge pool or bone chilling lake for a brief period (a few seconds to a minute) giving your body a jolt. Many say having your body adapt to those extremes can make it more resilient the rest of the time. I'm not sure of the resilience factor but it will certainly make you alert - no caffeine required.


Social media and personal branding has transformed the industry. People now prefer a retreat with a trusted trainer or wellness guru they have seen or connected with on Instagram or YouTube. These trainers are now organizing spa, yoga and wellness retreats. People seem eager to connect with a trainer or therapist they have seen on social media rather than a stranger at a spa.


Technology has infiltrated all areas of wellness from hotel rooms to aesthetic treatments. Watch out for more non-invasive surgical treatments for cosmetic and anti-aging improvements to wearable techs that can track your biomarkers. Smart hotel rooms will become more popular where you can control the room's environment from the air quality, lighting, mood and more. Relax and heal with chairs and beds using magnetic or vibrational energy.


Crystals have been around for many centuries but interest in crystal therapy is gaining in popularity and now included at many spas. Recently I participated in a two hour crystal therapy session at a spa in Ithaca, New York. After the session I didn't have a "wow" moment but it did provide interesting introspection and relaxation and yes a sense of well-being without the touching and massaging. Crystals have been cited to relieve everything from stress to pain.


Hosting the winter Olympics in February, South Korea will be front and centre in the news. But it won't just be about winter sports. K beauty has taken the beauty industry by storm with South Korea becoming a world leader in developing skin care and wellness products from sheet marks, snail facials and the big trendsetter, "glass skin". All the fashion and beauty magazines are featuring articles on this beauty trend. Glass skin refers to skin that is even toned, translucent, well-hydrated, smooth and with a sheen like a pane of glass. Expect to see spas offering K beauty treatments in 2018.

There will be a host of other trends from bug dining (cricket flour is a great source of protein), weed edibles, silence spas, sleeping rooms, digital detox retreats, isolation tanks, and natural sound therapy to keep the wellness enthusiasts engaged and experimenting in 2018.

Wellness comes in many forms and in this complex and stress-filled world, we need it more than ever.

Be well.


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Chris Ryall

An industry insider with strong, outspoken opinions that readers enjoy, whether they agree, or take issue with his point of view.

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