Wellness real estate has been largely forced to take a backseat due to events of the past few years. But indicators show the sector is back on track, underpinned by greater desire for better health and lifestyles and a craving for social connection.

The global market for wellness tourism alone has surpassed a heady $900 billion according to a report by Colliers and is on its way to hit $1.2 trillion by 2027. In Australia, the country’s $545.7 million health and wellness spa market is on track to expand 6.8% this year according to IBIS World analysis. Australia’s gym and fitness centre sector is facing equally good prospects, the industry returning to a growth pattern over the next five years sparked by not only the return to normal daily life but the added drivers of population growth and increased health consciousness.

Premium proves popular

Internationally, developments are reinventing the wheel when it comes to health and wellness offerings, often breaking new ground to deliver ever higher levels of care in the most salubrious of accommodations. Savills London has reported that developers of super-prime real estate in the UK’s capital are “moving on from the gym, spa and even medical concierge” in favour of fitting out projects with facilities catering to all aspects of mental health as well as physical wellbeing. One of the first in this league is The Whiteley – a development of 139 premium residences where ownership comes with have the privilege of access to superior health facilities within the adjoining Six Senses hotel and spa, the first to be built in the UK by the global leader of wellness and sustainability. Amenities extend far the usual gym and spa offering to the cutting-edge mental health resources and intravenous vitamin drips tailored to best benefit the client.

Savills London head Tom Mann said the goal with such developments was to enhance their appeal to a buyer demographic most concerned with boosting quality of life and longevity.

“These schemes ensure a personalised programme attuned to residents’ needs,” Mr Mann said. “This individualised approach to wellness is gaining traction and where super-prime advocates lead, others, as they have in the past, are sure to follow.”

Wellness City a world-first

In the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, a ground breaking development is underway in the form of an entire city devoted to wellbeing. The KL Wellness City is billed as the first-of-its-kind, a  medical, wellness and business hub built alongside luxurious residential, retail and commercial offerings interspersed with lush parklands and gardens. It aims to be the ultimate one-stop oasis for the body and mind and scheduled for completion in 2025.

In Australia, the domestic market for lifestyle, wellness and health tourism is back on the rise after taking a dip during the pandemic. Latest figures available from Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitors Survey list the number of people to spend at least one night in a “health spa, wellbeing centre or sanctuary” jumped to 387,000 in 2021 compared to 219,000 during the pandemic.

The Global Wellness Summit in New York which has just wrapped up in New York delivered more good news for wellness industry and real estate stakeholders. Lifestyle tourism was going north worldwide, while one of the greatest trends in 2023 will be a growing demand for more social facilities and leisure concepts that can help solve “the loneliness epidemic”, the summit heard.

"The number one predictor of health and happiness is our social relationships," Beth McGroarty, vice president of research and forecasting for GWS and sister organization Global Wellness Institute told summit delegates. "But the wellness market over the last decade-plus has an avalanche of at-home products and digital wellness, [which has] kept us lonely on our endless journey of self-care.

“The future of wellness is a move from solo to social self-care."

Travel wellness brands had already started tapping into this desire for human connection and community building, the summit heard, the wellness-oriented Aman Resort chain being among the first to introduce a private members-only club.