As wellness further sweeps the travel industry, more and more established names are launching getaways. The newest one is Equinox.
On Thursday, the luxury fitness company announced its version of fit retreats, which will include domestic getaways as well exotic week-long journeys abroad. Depending on the destination, each trip will focus on a different modality. For example, expect hiking in the Adirondacks, yoga and mindfulness in India, and more physically demanding exercise during a trip to Ethiopia that traces the birth of elite running. They will all be led by Equinox talent.
The company recently hired luxury travel coordinator Leah Howe, formerly of premier travel agencies Butterfield & Robinson and Van Wyck & Van Wyck, to serve as senior director of retreats and member experiences.
“Physical activity will be an integral part of the experiences, but the way that physicality is incorporated will vary based on the destination and planned programming,” Howe told Fast Company via email. “We are creating highly coveted signature programs for Equinox such as precision running, performance cycling, and yoga and regeneration, and all will include complementary lifestyle programming. We plan to have different options available–some trip-goers will, say, do a 10-mile hike, others may opt to go further or incorporate additional activities. The sky’s the limit.”
All packages include meals and excursions, which run the gamut from a personalized training session with a champion athlete to foraging with a renowned local chef. Equinox’s new venture kicks off with a “summit-chasing adventure in Morocco” in April 2019.
One does not need to be an Equinox club member to sign up, and prices vary depending on duration and destination. These group trips can also be customized based on a group’s fitness or lifestyle goals. Essentially, Equinox can now plan your next bachelorette party or corporate retreat.
“Conceived with its member community in mind, the Equinox travel experiences are intended for sophisticated travelers who want to explore destinations through the lens of transformational health and life maximization,” reads a press statement.
Equinox’s travel expansion is yet another example of the company shifting into a lifestyle brand. Last year, the gym franchise announced it was dipping into hospitality with a New York City hotel. It also added “sleep coaches” to its portfolio of member services. More recently, Equinox and SoulCycle (which is majority owned by Equinox) announced a joint talent management agency.
As millennials increasingly look to travel to “reset” their fitness and health goals, it makes sense that Equinox would offer an extension beyond gym walls. It joins other fitness companies offering retreats and day-long experiences, including ClassPass, Barre3, Taryn Toomey’s The Class, and dozens more.
“Travel and experiences are important elements of the high-performance life, and members and non-members alike know and expect us to deliver a highly curated offering that meaningfully reflects the services and programming already offered at our clubs,” says Howe. “In everything we do, science-backed fitness is at our core, but it’s the style–from design, to delivery to amenities–that truly elevates the experience.”
As Fast Company previously reported, wellness travel–defined as vacationing while enhancing or maintaining one’s physical, mental, or spiritual well-being–is now a $563 billion global industry. The Global Wellness Institute reports that while overall tourism is growing at 6.9%, the wellness tourism sector grew 14% in the last two years and is now one of the fastest-growing tourism markets.
There are now entire festivals dedicated to fitness and wellness. Some, like Wanderlust, are held throughout the year in exotic locations like Oahu, Hawaii. Much of this signifies the industry’s move to experiential offerings, which explains hybrids such as SoulCycle live concerts.
Fitness clubs–and their talent–are leading much of the wellness travel interest. In a survey of nearly 5,000 Well+Good readers, 40% of respondents reported they’d rather go on a fitness retreat with their favorite instructor than attend a five-star resort like the esteemed Miraval in Arizona.
“Equinox single-handedly invented the concept of fitness-as-lifestyle nearly 30 years ago,” said Harvey Spevak, Equinox’s executive chairman and managing partner, in a press statement, “and now we are expanding our purview to include active, covetable experiences that empower our discerning members to connect with the world–and themselves.”