Post-pandemic travellers want to eat, pray and love

How urban destinations like Singapore can shine in sustainability and wellness

THE pandemic has given people around the world pause to consider wellness – and not just physical but mental as well – and they are looking for it within their travel experience.

Klook recently ran a survey that showed one in two travellers are actively looking for wellness experiences. This begets the question: how can travel, which is now slowly but surely resuming, contribute to bringing wellness into people’s lives?

Sarah Wan: “We don’t actually realise the impact the pandemic takes on our mental health because it permeates every aspect of our life.”

“We don’t actually realise the impact the pandemic takes on
our mental health because it permeates every aspect of our life,” said Sarah
Wan, general manager of Klook, Singapore. Wan admitted that she was personally
“banned from the office for two weeks” in order to regain her wellness so she
understands well this need.

“We are encouraging some of our merchants to think about how they could introduce wellness into their regular programming,” said Wan who was on the “Eat, Pray, Love” panel, powered by SingapoReimagine Global Conversations, at WiT Experience Singapore to share insights into the concept of urban wellness in a city destination like Singapore for the post-pandemic traveller.

The
traditional connotations of spas and far-flung resorts as being the only
purveyors of wellness are being dismantled, said the panelists. “Wellness
is not just about the physical. There are different aspects to it – could be
mental, could be just food. It could also be just about trying a new activity
for the first time,” suggested Wan.

Indeed,
wellness options already available in Singapore run the gamut from sensorial
food experiences to yoga classes in front of city attractions.

Alexis Fosler: “What we want to do is to bring experiences to everybody, be it domestic or international travellers.”

Alexis Fosler, chief operating officer of COMO Lifestyle, explained how Como is adding more sensorial experiences to its offerings to promote wellness.

“What we want to do is to bring experiences to everybody, be it domestic or international travellers. At Como Cuisine restaurants in Dempsey, we bring different cuisines from all of the locations where our hotels are. So you can have a Bhutanese curry or a Maldivian curry or something from Thailand,” said Fosler.

And of food experiences and innovative ideas, Singapore is not short. Wan points to tour agents creating alternative experiences not usually associated with Singapore – farm tours – and hotels like Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay are also introducing farm-to-table concepts for their menus.

The pandemic seems to also have raised the awareness of sustainability – in travel and in food. 

“People are worried much more about sustainability and where
food comes from. So we are seeing a shift in things like alternative proteins.
People are much more educated about it and are much more conscious of what they
eat; sales of vitamins, organic food have gone through the roof and people are
cooking a lot more at home.

Loh Lik Peng: Start thinking about your sustainability mission and how to articulate it.

“So as a restaurant industry, we ask how do we tackle this shift? We have to make sure that whatever we present on the plate is transparent to them and as healthy as it can be,” said Loh Lik Peng, CEO of Unlisted Collection, an eclectic group of hotels and award-winning restaurants.

Loh’s advice to the industry players is to start thinking
about their companies’ sustainability mission and how to articulate it, if they
have not already done so.

“You have to have a sustainability statement. You’ve got to
tell them what biodigesters you use, whether you’re using a biomass boiler,
heat pumps and all these things. These are technologies we are now integrating
into our restaurants and hotels,” said Loh.

“All of us who run businesses, whether you’re big or small,
this is an inescapable thing. I would say whatever size of business you have,
you better start thinking about it very hard. You have to have all these things
in a much more sophisticated manner than you have now because all your
consumers will start demanding it,” he added.

As sustainability and wellness come to the fore for the new
post-pandemic traveller, travel companies will need to start considering how to
meet that demand in quick time.

Fosler recognises this and has made this her priority: to
democratise wellness digitally. “We want to bring our version of well-being to
a great number of people, even to those who can’t travel. The idea is if we
cannot physically be in a place in which we engage in wellness, a gym or a spa,
how can we still avail ourselves of those types of experiences?” said Fosler.

“We’re putting a lot of time and money into additional apps
which hopefully we will be able to white label to others as well and be able to
bring that kind of concept of a digital retreat anytime, anywhere, to everybody,”
she added.

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