The latest destination on the docket for wellness travel isn’t so much a place as it is a dimension—a celestial one, that is. Hotels, resorts, and trip-planning companies are launching programming designed around the moon and stars, from astrology and tarot readings to events inspired by lunar phases and planetary transits to astronomer-led stargazing. Straying far out from the standard wellness-resort fare, these offerings are expanding the definition of wellness travel to reflect rising interest in psychic services, a market that, in the U.S., grew by 2.6 percent in 2021 and is now valued at $2.2 billion. As demand for wellness travel experiences also continues to skyrocket, cosmic programming will expand in scope, granting wellness tourism a new aura of spirituality.
Leading the journey to the stars are destinations that are traditionally popular among wellness-minded travelers from the U.S., like Arizona, California, and Hawaii, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. During the Mercury retrograde transit this fall, for instance, L’Auberge de Sedona launched its “Retrograde Reset” program, which combined several restorative offerings—like a turquoise and sage hydration treatment, sound healing, and a hike through Sedona’s sought-after spiritual vortices—to “offer visitors peace, calm, and mental clarity during such a hectic time,” says Katrina Schubert, L’Auberge de Sedona area director of marketing and revenue management. It received such a warm welcome, the resort plans to offer it during every Mercury retrograde transit in 2023.
Elsewhere, spa services nod to the cosmos. Upon reopening in 2021, Arizona Biltmore launched astrology readings at its Tierra Luna Spa alongside facials that draw inspiration from the moon; and this year, Alila Ventana Big Sur launched several otherworldly experiences, including a celestially inspired yoga class as well as astrology readings and the opportunity to have your “essence” painted. This summer, The Lodge at Sonoma opened The Spa at The Lodge with offerings honoring Sonoma’s nickname, “Valley of the Moon,” including a body ritual that uses gemstones chosen for the current lunar phase. And when Sedona spa Mii Amo reopens in February 2023, it’ll offer full-body massages paired with manifestation sessions on new moons and emotional-release sessions on full moons.
Meanwhile, at all three locations of Miraval, an early leader in wellness and spiritual tourism, the number of on-site “Spirit & Soul” specialists (including astrologers, tarot readers, and psychic mediums) has increased in the past three years due to the soaring popularity of these services. Also in 2022, each location of Miraval launched additional spirit-focused programming, including akashic soul record readings at Miraval Berkshires, a program on how astrology guides communication at Miraval Austin, and a psychic protection session at Miraval Arizona focused on creating protection against negative energy.
Hilary Thurston, RSSW, a member of the Wellness Tourism Association who’s also a tarot reader and therapist, connects this rising tide of spirituality in wellness travel to emotional changes prompted by the pandemic. “Mental-health issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis not only due to isolation and the risk of illness, but also because many people have lost faith in the institutions that once offered them a sense of stability, like government and healthcare,” she says. “It’s no surprise that many people are now seeking new frames for understanding their lives and grounding their anxieties.”
“Spiritual modalities, like astrology and tarot, at wellness retreats appear to be the contemporary evolution of the spiritual pilgrimage, offering the possibility of enlightenment far from home." Hilary Thurston, RSSW, travel advisor and tarot reader
Wellness travel, she suspects, is evolving to provide people with those new perspectives—not just on tending to the body and mind but also, increasingly, on uplifting the spirit and soul. “Spiritual modalities, like astrology and tarot, at wellness retreats appear to be the contemporary evolution of the spiritual pilgrimage, offering the possibility of enlightenment far from home,” says Thurston. “Traveling to discover the self is nothing new, but the recent urgency around this pursuit is manifesting in expansive and innovative offerings.”
Some of these simply harness the awe-inspiring nature of the stars themselves, encouraging guests to gaze skyward. In 2021, Rosewood Little Dix Bay, in the British Virgin Islands, launched its “Spas, Stars, and Romance” program, which includes a couples massage and meditation followed by private stargazing on the spa terrace complete with a map of the visible constellations. It’s available from November to May, and at the time of publication, the property had already received 60 bookings for this season. Also in 2021, Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel and Spa launched its monthly “Stargazing on the Sea” program, which takes guests on a nighttime river boat cruise featuring a stargazing talk led by a local astronomer. Ever since launch, the tour has been fully booked each month, driving room bookings across weekends when the program is offered, according to the property’s general manager Awet Sium. And in 2022, Four Seasons Resort Oahu, Six Senses Ibiza, and Golden Rock Dive and Nature Resort in St. Eustatius began offering guided stargazing sessions, too, all of which became quick hits among guests.
In the same realm, several resorts have turned to the moon as a stellar source of inspiration. This year, Naples Grande Beach Resort launched an al frescofull moon dinner experience, with dishes themed around the energy of each month’s moon; after repeatedly selling out, the series is slated to continue in 2023. Also in 2022, The Joseph Nashville launched a moon bath experience, offering guests staying in suites with soaking tubs a freshly brewed tea chosen for its alignment with the lunar phase and an intention-setting guide. Meanwhile, W South Beach partnered with Ahana Yoga to launch full moon ceremonies complete with a yoga flow and meditation and Gran Meliá Iguazú, in Argentina, launched “Full Moon in the Falls,” a guided moonlit walking tour of the waterfalls at Iguazú National Park.
Explore More Self-Care Trends
With ‘Mental Fitness,’ We’re Working Out Our Mental Health Like We Do Our Bodies
This programming speaks not only to the rising interest in cosmic self-discovery, but also to an innate and childlike yearning, says Melissa Rosenbloum, travel designer at luxury travel agency SmartFlyer. “It’s the feeling of hope, awe, and wonder that’s drawing travelers to the moon and stars,” she says. And in 2023, celestial programming will further expand its horizons, with offerings ramping up not only at individual hotels and resorts, but also on the itineraries of trip-planning services worldwide.
Additionally, adventure travel company Explore Worldwide announced a series of six astronomer-led trips in Utah and Arizona tied to viewing the October 2023 solar eclipse, all of which are already nearly sold out; and boutique travel-planning company Naya Traveler launched customizable stargazing-focused journeys in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. In 2023, the company will also add Iceland as a new destination, with winter stargazing itineraries designed around viewings of the aurora borealis amid the near-constant darkness.
As more hotels, resorts, and travel operators join the cosmic journey, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: As far as the future of wellness travel goes, the sky's the limit. ✙