While international visitors may not come back any time soon owing to extended travel restrictions, destination spas and wellness centres are now banking upon domestic travellers who are seeking self-care.
Manoj Khetan, Co-Founder, Naad Wellness in Sonepat, says their centre began operations in 2018 with a vision to bring Ayurveda, naturopathy and yoga together. “We chose to start it right outside Delhi to offer easy accessibility to people. We understand that everyone cannot travel to the hills frequently. For example, if someone wishes to have a five-day stay with us, they don’t need to waste time on travelling for 1- 2 days.”
However, pandemic-related lockdowns brought things to a halt soon after. “After a temporary setback due to the pandemic and recurrent lockdowns, we have started getting back on track with a progressively increasing number of footfalls,” Khetan adds, “People are choosing the staycation option to help them combat the Covid-19 fatigue.”
The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit due to the pandemic. But some have also looked at this as an opportunity and repositioned themselves as wellness retreats since there has been an increased awareness of physical, emotional and mental health. Immunity has become the buzzword. And the hospitality sector is trying to tap into this as an opportunity, while also giving confidence to visitors through safety protocols and bio-bubbles.
“We are following all safety protocols and our staff members are fully vaccinated. We are now offering all kinds of therapies, medical and experiential packages. Our plan for 2022 is to reach out to an increased number of people who seek wellness as the first step towards healing,” Khetan points out.
The mental health and wellness industry, specifically the Luxury Rehab industry, has been relatively unaffected by the pandemic as a business, says Manun Thakur, Managing Director, Veda Rehabilitation and Wellness, a chain of luxury rehabilitation centres with flagship facilities in Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Khetan explains, “The most significant impact has been on new visitors or persons who wanted to visit our centres but could not travel due to non-availability of flights or fear of Covid-19. Most of our clients are in “in-patient care” for months, so that remains unaffected. However, in terms of hygiene and safeguards, we have asked all the staff to stay at the centre.”
At Veda as well, most of the staff is housed at the centre itself and do not travel unless required, while visitors are not permitted until they have a negative RTPCR report. “We cater to a limited number of people and have greater control over mobility and personnel,” says Thakur.
Kaivalyadhama – a wellness facility rooted in the traditions of yoga, which has branches in Lonavla, Jaipur, Bhopal, Delhi and Mumbai – has also come out with Covid-recovery packages in the domestic sector till international visitors can return. “Earlier, around 5000 people stayed for one-week retreats at Kaivalyadhama Lonavala every year, and about 5000 more visited each year. After Covid-19, however, an average of 1000 people stayed for a week-long retreat every year. In fact, before 60 per cent of the guests were international, now this is down to zero,” says a spokesperson from the institute.
Kaivalyadhama has introduced a new post-Covid recovery programme called Prabalatwam based on yoga and naturopathy. Further, they are operating their Lonavala centre like a bio-bubble. The management says that guests can come for a minimum one-week stay, once they submit a negative RTPCR report on arrival. They are not allowed to go outside the campus. “Since the majority of our staff also stays in our 180-acre campus, the environment is considered safe for guests and many have enjoyed long stays with wellness and work,” they say in a statement.
Meanwhile, many such centres are also using this time to widen their consumer base through digital mediums. “During the lockdown, we have focused our energies more on digital outreach – to provide information specific to anxiety, depression and other clinical disorders around mental health,” says Thakur, adding, “We have recently launched a new centre in Bangalore. Moving forward, our goal is to open centres in Delhi and Kolkata by 2022.”
Kaivalyadhama spokesperson adds, “The pandemic presented us with a new opportunity to take yoga to people with our online programmes and we made inroads globally into newer cities and countries. We will continue to expand our online footprint and reach out to as many people across the world so that once the pandemic situation improves, we are sure these people will be motivated to visit and experience our on-campus programmes.”
Khetan adds, “Our thought for the coming year is simple – to make people more aware of their overall health. After all, health is the first line of defence. The pandemic has made most of us realise the value of good health and the importance of being proactive with our own self-care.”