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Wellness tourism on the rise as travellers ditch beaches

When I was told I had to do a story on the experience economy, in particular yoga, I thought this is going to be interesting....

Whilst I've heard about the health benefits a daily dose of downward facing dogs can generate, I'd never given it a go.

It appears as though I'm in the minority, with wellness tourism, particularly in Australia, on the rise.

According to the U.S.-based Global Wellness Institute, global wellness tourism grew at about twice the pace of regular travel experiences between 2013-2015.

With that in mind I set out to find out why so many people are ditching the regular beach holiday and instead opting for a week or weekend of yoga and mindfulness.

James Wyndham, General Manager of the Emirates One and Only resort in Wolgan Valley, near the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney, says people want to experience more than a holiday, they want their holidays to be an extension of the wellness routines they've created as a daily part of their lives.

Outdoor yoga at the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort.
Courtesy of One&Only Resorts
Outdoor yoga at the Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort.

Emirates One and Only Wolgan Valley has started offering wellness weekends where guests at the luxury retreat switch off and experience daily yoga, spa and nature sessions.

Wyndham says increasing his clientele are busy corporates who make the short drive Sydney to literally "go off the grid" for a weekend or a week.

It's at Wolgan Valley where I experienced my first taste of yoga.

Under the blazing sun in a deserted field and with six other newly enlightened individuals I gave it my best shot, perhaps a little unsuccessfully, but I can understand the appeal.

A little closer to home, at Sydney's Bondi Beach, the Bondi Yoga House takes wellness to a whole new level.

Operated by Ben Gould and Amanda Graci, who both left corporate jobs to start the business, the urban retreat caters to people wanting some time out in the big city.

Bondi Yoga House offers retreats specifically designed to cater to client's needs, whilst they stay at the property, or evening yoga and meditation classes; and there's strong demand.

On a Tuesday evening I observed more than 30 individuals participate in a regular meditation session, where for 2 hours clients reflected on the past week and made plans for the future.

Owners Ben and Amanda who started the retreat earlier this year say they're overwhelmed with the response, and not just from locals with international tourists also choosing the retreat as a place to stay whilst visiting Australia.

With the trend growing globally, it's no wonder the tourism industry is paying attention and instead of simply providing a place to stay, it's becoming all about the experience.

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