Encouraging Children to Connect with Wellness

By Claire Way Managing Director, Spa Strategy | July 16, 2017

My parents, in theory, had it easy. Keep me safe, clean, make sure I ate my vegetables – back then not an easy task, and you pretty much had the recipe for a child that would grow-up fit and healthy. My sphere of influence was limited to school, friends, family and electronically a TV with three channels and limited programs, even periods of time when nothing was aired. Compared to today, the external influence on children now deemed generation X was miniscule. Skip forward and we now have reports that say Millennials growing up in the socially-networked world, are the anxious generation(1). This hindsight has, in part, created the demand for greater understanding of how children are affected by societal influences.

New studies conducted at schools and universities, are analyzing the effects of self-improvement programs that include meditation, mindfulness and breathing techniques(2). The results continue to prove the effectiveness of introducing simple wellness activities to help children understand their own well-being. Some schools are taking wellness education a step further. It is mental health week here in the UK. In response to this initiative, one of the local schools has introduced an interesting wellness program. “To live is not just to survive it is to thrive and grow”. They go on to say, “Our development program aims to create resilient young men who can ride the stresses and pressures of modern life. The program is about thriving, building resilience and a positive mental framework that reduces the risk of illness. Lessons to promote good mental habits covering subjects such as personal identity and self-image, sleep ‘hygiene’, mind-set, positive goal setting, kindness and gratitude”. We teach the skills of Mindfulness and all of these are reinforced throughout the later years.” Although it makes me pause and consider the influence that the message “survive or thrive” could have on a teenager, it is great to see schools bringing wellness into the classroom and building a foundation.

The rise of technology and social networks affects individuals differently. Irrespective of the generation category the reality is we are increasingly seeing a rise in the number of people who identify as being more anxious and looking for comprehensive information to combat the effects; as Thierry Malleret says in the GWI monthly barometer (Millennials are the Anxious Generation), “the greater the anxiety, the greater the search for solutions that can assuage its effects.

So what solutions are hotel and resort spas offering?

Six Senses Spa, Porto Elounda, Crete, Greece, offers a program of wellness, education, nutritional workshops and group spa treatments for 5 to 12 year olds. The focus is on having fun whilst learning how to integrate wellness into everyday life through games, treatments, workshops and specialist classes. The three-day program takes place in the specially created Kids Ark comprised of classrooms, activity rooms, wellness treatment area plus a kitchen and changing rooms. In addition there is an outdoor area with eco gym, labyrinth garden and meditation cave, Hippocrates garden, pool and playground.

Fun activities include, making organic beauty products, nutritional workshops combining brunch with learning about bees and bee products and hands on lessons are offered about herbs and plants in the Hippocrates garden. Not forgetting a little me time learning how to do a foot scrub or paint nails and fitness time with sessions in the eco gym and traditional games of the world.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.