The Holistic Wellness Boom Tourism Essay

Immediately after the title page there follows a page with a so-called abstract a short summary of the content of the essay. This summary is an important part of the essay. It is that which the reader first meets, and in many cases it determines whether the rest will be read or not. It must be a completely free-standing text which can be read by itself, even by those who do not read the essay as a whole. It must therefore summarise everything of importance, and must not of course contain any new material. It must on no account consist of a number of sentences lifted from the main text and strung together, but must be formulated independently in its own right. It must enable anyone picking up the text to see at once whether it is of interest or not. It is important to highlight in it the outcome of the research undertaken but, since that itself depends on the approach adopted, the reader must also be given brief details of the purpose, theory, method and material. A well-written abstract thus gives information about all central elements in the scientific analysis. Note that the nature of this introductory summary differs significantly from the summary of conclusions which must appear in the final chapter of the essay. The following guide-lines apply in regard to different types of essay:

Bachelor and Master degree theses must contain an abstract in English, 150-200 words in length.

In addition to the abstract, the author must provide five keywords, words that relate to the central arguments and ideas dealt with in the paper. These words will then be put into the computer search system for course papers by the Department. It is therefore important that these key words give some idea of the general contents of the essay.

Key words: keyword, keyword, keyword, keyword, keyword

Words: xxxxx


1 Introduction

This chapter presents the problem that has been analyzed. The chapter begins with background facts, followed by a discussion about the problems this study is based on.

The introduction consists of background information for the study, information about the research problem. Create reader interest, establish the problem that leads to the study, and place the study within the larger context of the literature.

The research problem, studies that have addressed the problem, deficiencies in the study, the importance of the study, the purpose statement should be in the introduction. (Creswell, 2003, p. 76)


Start this chapter with a synoptic view of the background.

The world today has become a very stressful place. People are in general very stressed which has led to a boom in Wellness Tourism. People are seeking a way to get away from the daily stress and the spa and wellness sector has acknowledge this and they are responding to this need in various ways.

Problem Discussion

Progress in science and medicine has resulted in better preservation of our bodies and diseases are being cured, but this development has not focused on our psychological and emotional health. Depression is one of the greatest disease burdens today and suicide rates are rising (Mullholland, 2005 as cited in Smith & Kelly, 2006).

Our psychological and emotional wellbeing has been left out and the wellness industry has identified this and responded with different approaches. This is one of the reasons for the exponential growth in the wellness leisure and tourism sector.

1.2.1 Formulation of the problem

All this stress we are facing today has led to an increased demand for wellness and this thesis will try to answer the following questions:

What are the underlying reasons for the wellness boom?

How has it affected Sweden and did it affect other European countries differently? If so, why is that?

Holistic wellness

The wellness boom is something that affects almost everyone in the more developed countries and this thesis will try to answer why this is and how it has affected Sweden. Formulation of the problem

“How has the holistic wellness trend affected Sweden?”

In this thesis the assumption that Holistic Wellness is a trend has been made and this thesis will try to explain how it has affected Sweden in particular.


The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to an understanding of the holistic wellness trend in the society. I would like to introduce you to the new wellness trend by presenting an empirical research of different spa hotels in Sweden.


It would not be realistic to study the spa hotels in the whole Sweden; therefore I have chosen 15 Spa hotels in Sweden to interview in order to contribute to the mutual understanding of the wellness trend we are facing today. The reason for focusing on Holistic wellness in particular is due to the fact that this trend is growing tremendously international. I choose to focus on spa hotels exclusively, instead of including day spa and such since the timeframe is limited. The research is carried out through phone and email interviews due to geographic difficulties.

2. Methodology

In order to study the growing wellness trend this chapter cover the methods that have been used during the research.

2.1 Approach

2.1.1 Qualitative and quantitative method

There are three different ways to explore a topic: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. These approaches all vary regarding the research problem. Based on the research problem the most suitable approach can be chosen (Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2003). Typical characteristics of a qualitative research problem are that available theory might be lacking, available theory is biased, inaccurate or not suitable, there is a need for exploration or the nature of the phenomenon is more suitable for qualitative measures (Morse, 1991 as cited in Creswell, 2003 p. 75).

The qualitative research normally takes place in a natural setting such as the participants’ home or office. This makes it easier for the researcher to obtain a deeper level of understanding of the participant. Qualitative research also uses multiple methods that are interactive to each other. Moreover, the study is an ongoing process. The researcher has to be flexible since several new aspects may emerge during the research. Furthermore a qualitative research is interpretative, which means that the research makes interpretations of the data being collected. It is also important that the researcher view social phenomena holistically, they should have a panoramic view in other words. (Creswell, 2003)

In a quantitative research, it is more important to understand the factors or variables that influence the outcome. This type of research normally involves complex experiments with several variables. It is also very common with surveys that include cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. (Creswell, 2003).

A mixed method is best suited when the problem needs understanding in factors, variables and further understanding in the topic (Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches, 2003).

This research will use the qualitative method mentioned above since a research on this topic has not yet been found and because of this, further exploration on the topic is needed. Throughout the gathering of resources it has been found that literature based on the research problem used in this thesis is lacking and the best way to address the problem is through verbal information gathering. Furthermore, since this research wants to interpret and understand the problem thoroughly the qualitative method was chosen.

2.1.2 Philosophical assumptions

There are four different philosophical assumptions, also called knowledge claims. These four are postpositivism, constructivism, pragmatism and advocacy/participatory. When a researches states a knowledge claim it means that the project starts with certain assumptions about what the researcher will learn and how it will be learned during the study (Creswell, 2003).

This research perspective is the social constructivism, which means that the researcher tries to understand the world and look for the complexity of views rather than narrowing it down. Researchers with this perspective try to centre their attention on specific contexts about the participant’s world in order to understand the historical and cultural settings of the participants (Creswell, 2003).

Open- ended questions has been used during the research in order to better understand the participant´s view. Information has been gathered through personal telephone interviews to better engage in the participants world. The process of this research is for the most part inductive, which will be explained in further detail in the next chapter.

2.2 Research strategy decision

2.2.1 The Inductive Logic

The inductive logic of research in a qualitative study begins with information gathering from the researcher such as interviews followed by questioning the participants and then analyzing the data in order to categorize and finally generalizations to literature (Creswell, 2003).

This research is done with the inductive logic since the interviews were the base of the research and the interviewing has been an ongoing process during the research since new questions arise along with the research. The questions answered during this process and the analyzing of the interviews has had a great impact on the literature review. Phenomenology approach

The study-design chosen for this study is the phenomenology approach. A study based on this approach describes several individuals’ experiences regarding a concept or phenomenon. The focus is on the common factors that the participants share in regards to a certain phenomena (Creswell, 2006).

There are two approaches to phenomenology, hermeneutic and empirical phenomenology.

I am not sure if my type of study really fits in the phenomenological research design, but when i read about the five different approaches this one suite the best. Or is it a narrative design??

2.3 Sample decision

2.3.1 Sampling method

There are several qualitative sampling strategies to choose from. This thesis is mainly using the maximum variation type of sampling. This approach is often used when the researcher wants to differentiate the participants and to identify common patterns. This method is suited for researches that want to reflect differences and different perspectives, which is ideal for a qualitative research (Creswell, 2006).

During the sampling phase of the research, the first step was to create a list of possible spa hotels to be interviewed. These hotels were then categorized based on their attributes and focus. The two different categories were “Traditional spa hotels” and “Holistic spa hotel”. In order to detect differences between the two categories view of the research problem a number of hotels from each category was then chosen to be interviewed. Since some of the hotels were not willing to be a part of the study, convenience sampling was used in some cases.

2.3.2 Sample

Overview of the sample

2.4 Reliability and validity

Objectivity is a crucial factor for a successful interview research. Objectivity could be defined as “freedom from bias” which refers to reliable knowledge (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009, p. 242).

Reliability relates to the research findings, it is frequently checked in respect of the reproducibly of the findings, in other words if the findings can be used at a different time or by other researchers. This is measured through the subject’s answers, and if they would answer differently to other interviewers. Reliability also refers to the questions being asked. If the questions in terms of e.g. wording would affect the answers this would also affect the reliability of the research (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009).

Validity refers to “the truth, the correctness and the strength of a statement” (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009, p. 246). The authors also stress the importance of the intended purpose and whether or not this is actually being investigated. Validation can be divided into seven stages. The first stage is thematizing which refers to soundness of the presuppositions and the logic of derivations from theory to the research questions. The second stage is designing, which refers to the design, methods used and purpose. The third stage is the interviewing and during this stage the trustworthiness and the quality is important to obtain. The fourth stage is transcribing which means that the translation from oral to written language should be done with care. The fifth stage is analyzing. The sixth stage is validating which entails judgment and decision for the dialogue. The last stage is reporting. (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009)

During the interviews in this research a lot of emphasis was on the reliability and validity. The themes that were sketched in the first phase of the interview planning were very useful. This made the research a lot easier to analyze and the continuous work were simpler to plan. The questions were carefully developed in order to keep the flow of the conversation and to stimulate further discussion around the questions. During the process of transcribing, a Dictaphone was used in order to be able to cite exactly what was said without affecting reliability and validity.

Negatives aspects of Qualitative research

2.6 Approach to primary and secondary data collection

According to Creswell (2006) the data collection process is a series of ongoing activities during the research. This subchapter will describe this process and its activities.

2.6.2 Primary data collection

In order to collect valuable information to the research this thesis cover both primary and secondary data. The qualitative part of the research consists of interviews held with different spa hotel managers in Sweden. In order to attain a good overview of the hotels an analysis of their websites were conducted to attain more depth to the research. Due to the fact that this is a qualitative study, it is of high importance to attain various views of information and therefore an explicit interview with the spa specialist, Heidi Rovén was conducted.

2.6.1 Secondary data collection

Literature used in this thesis is mainly based on books and articles from the MODUL University library and the Vienna University of economics and business library in Vienna, Austria. Other secondary resources are online articles, journals, blogs and websites. Different materials have been reviewed and the relevant information is used in this thesis.

2.7 Interview approach

A qualitative research interview tries to understand the subject’s perception of the situation. The structure is close to an everyday conversation, although it requires a certain approach and technique from the researcher (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009).

Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009, p. 327 define semi-structured interviews as “a planned and flexible interview with the purpose of obtaining descriptions of the life world of the interviewww with respect to interpreting the meaning of the described phenomena.”

This research is done with semi-structured interviews. The interviews are focused on specific themes with flexible questions depending on the subject’s answers. The interviews were conducted using recording equipment and notes were taking during the interview for more accurate analysis.

2.7 Data Analysis

2.8 Method criticism

There are limitations when collecting data through interviews. First of all, interviews provide information that is filtered through the views of the interviewee, which could affect the quality of the respondent’s initial answer. The information is collected in a designated place rather than the natural setting of the respondent. The researcher’s presence could also affect the responses in a biased way. Furthermore, the respondents are not equally articulate and perceptive during an oral interview. (Creswell, 2003)

One negative aspect of telephone interviewing is that the researches might miss the informal communication, which is only visual e.g. body language. Another disadvantage is that the subject being interviewed might be stressed since the interviews were held during work which could result in valuable information being lost. (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009)

2.8 Criticism of the sources

3. Literature Review

The literature review will serve as a framework for comparing other studies on the subject, fill in the information gaps and to provide a further dialogue of the literature around the topic. This chapter begins with…

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Definitions

Clarify the terms used in the thesis such as Spa, Wellness, Holistic Wellness and Spa Hotels. Give examples of different definitions and such.

Wellness definitions

Dunn was one of the first to introduce the concept of wellness and he defined wellness as a state of health which compromises a sense of wellbeing and sees a person in the view of body, mind and spirit (as cited in Smith & Puczkó, 2009, p. 4)

Another definition which is a bit more extensive is from Mueller and Kaufmann and they define wellness as” the sum of all the relationships and phenomena resulting from a journey and residence by people whose main motive is to preserve or promote their health. They stay in a specialized hotel which provides the appropriate professional knowhow and individual care. They require a comprehensive service package comprising physical fitness/beauty care, healthy nutrition/ diet, relaxation/meditation and mental activity/education” (Mueller & Kaufmann, 2001, p. 7).

Holistic tourism/wellness definitions

Smith and Puczkó (2009) define holistic tourism as “tourism that provides the visitor with a range of activities and/or treatments which are aimed at balancing the body-mind-spirit”. The authors continue with defining a holistic retreat as a centre built for a purpose which accommodates guests for the intention to learn, develop body-mind-spirit activities and to provide other therapies to assist the guest.

According to Tabacchi (2010) holistic wellness is defined as “Wellness movement includes physical fitness and flexibility and mental and spiritual wellness through relaxation, meditation, yoga, t’ai chi and qi gong.”

3.1.1 Europe’s Spa History

Each continent had their own places which were committed to the overall wellbeing of humans and each place was unique. Europe is famous for their water focused locations. The spas were in general located by natural springs. After world wars and the development of scientific cures, this trend moved closer to a medical approach in Europe. However, since illnesses have declined and the healthcare regimes are improving, this trend has shifted to more relaxing and pampering activities. Nevertheless, the focus on water and medicine can still be seen in European Spas today. (Smith & Puczkó, 2009)

In the 1980s one of the major trends in the spa industry was the government interference which resulted in a major increase of guests who went to spas on the government expense. Another trend that arose during this decade was the hotels increased interest in adding spas to their hotels amenities. This was also the time when day-spas emerged. (Cohen & Bodeker, 2008).

3.2 Underlying reasons for the wellness boom

3.2.1 Civil Society Debate

What is actually the reason for this wellness boom? One could conclude that this rising interest in health is caused from our self or could it be the society that is pushing us to be perfectly healthy?

The German sociologist Ulrich Beck is one of a few authors who introduced the term “risk society”, which means that it is a way of dealing with various hazards and insecurities which has been brought to us through modernisation. In other words, humans have been released from the traditional ways of living, which leads humans a feeling of chock and this constitutes to the risk society. According to Beck the risk society was developed out of two reasons. First, our real financial scarcity does not exist anymore and secondly because the risks and threats that follow the rising productive forces have been released (Beck, 1992).

This leads us to the term anomie which was introduced by Èmile Durkheim and is defined as a state of disorientation and confusion caused by society’s lack of uniting standards and values. Society’s mental state transfers to the individual. This can lead to a state where the individual is constantly striving for satisfaction and is demanding more and more from themselves. Unreasonable demands are set up which makes it easy to feel failure and disappointment (Berkman, Glass, Brissette, & Seeman, 2000).

The consumers are self-realizing themselves through the products and services they are using. Humans today believe that they work to survive compared to surviving to work, which many humans believed in the earlier days. With the developments of new trends, this causes new lifestyles to appear as well (Eriksson & Cronebratt, 1985).

3.2.2 Influencing factors

In modern society, communities are becoming less important for us. People today are spending less time with their families compared to earlier. People are choosing to pursue their career before settling time and starting a family. This has led to an increased number of single households and the birth rate per family is decreasing (Smith & Puczkó, 2009).

People are actively seeking out community-free zones which might results in a feeling of loneliness without them knowing it (Bauman, 2001 as cited in Smith & Puczkó, 2009, p. 70).

These factors could be the reason why so many wellness tourists are visiting a holistic centre or a yoga retreat, with the underlying motive of seeking some kind of communion with others. Temporary communities can be found in these types of retreats, since you will find similar people with the same interest at the same place. Older people might go to a retreat in order to get some kind of sympathy and understanding which they may not get from home. A significant percentage of medical trips are motivated by looking for company (Smith & Puczkó, 2009).

Obsession with the self is another factor that influences the need for health and wellness. Since media, technology and consumer-oriented services are becoming increasingly more important, the obsession of our self has reached an all time high. People today are more fixated about their body, image, clothes and celebrities. At the beginning of spectrum lies the engagement of our physical body and at the other end lies our search for inner self (Smith & Puczkó, 2009).

Another factor is the desire to downsize, which refers to voluntary simplicity. This desire comes from the need to escape from long hours, excessive stress and the focus on material living (Smith & Puczkó, 2009). Specialists and educators from The Trends Research Institute, estimates that 15% of American adults will be living the simpler life by the end of the decade (Humphreys, 2007 as cited in Smith & Puczkó, 2009, p. 72).

Religion is another factor. Many people are using tourism as a mean of visiting spiritual places along with their wellness goal (Smith & Puczkó, 2009).

Smith & Puczkó (2009) identified several other factors that are affecting the growth of health tourism. The external factors are: Medicine, therapy and healing, psychology, nutrition and government policy. The internal factors include time-poor, cash-rich élites and curiosity.

OR REWRITE: p. 80-81 in Health and wellness tourism.

3.2.1 Spa-goers profiles

With today’s lifestyle it seems that guests are more aware of the mind/body connection and they are also more aware of the importance of slowing down (Monteson & Singer, Sage Publications, 2004).

Based on HFD consumer research, Monteson & Singer (2004) identified some key attributes of spa-goers. The first group is “Women under 40 years old”. Some key attributes to this group is the following: they are very influenced by their particular stage in life and their financial security, they have challenging careers, their main interest in a spa visit is to be pampered and reduce stress, they are not so interested in losing weight or to undertake any exercise (Monteson & Singer, Sage Publications, 2004).

The second group is the “Women over 50 years old”. Key attributes from this group could be that the healing aspects of their visit is of importance, they would like to renew their body and spirit, facials are one of the most popular treatments, they see their spa visit as an escape and this group is the most loyal group (Monteson & Singer, Sage Publications, 2004).

The third and last group the authors identified is the “Male spa-goers”. This group is harder to associate with a particular lifestyle. Men in general see spas as a place to visit with their spouse. Men are mostly interested in different saunas, massage services and exercise (Monteson & Singer, Sage Publications, 2004).

According to a study done in the United States in 1997 an increase in younger people going to spas can be found, another finding was that spa-goers were seeking for balance in their spa-experience (Monteson & Singer, Marketing a resort-based spa, 2004). The study also points out the top four reasons for going to a spa namely: stress, indulgence, splurging and they wanted to feel better. Quite surprisingly the study showed that the physical reasons such as losing weight or to improve their looks were not the main reason for visiting a spa. Monteson and Singer are also referring to the 2003 ISPA, which presents more recent data, that the reasons for going to the spa were to “relieve stress or feel relaxed”, to indulge myself” and to “feel better about myself”.

In a study about the spa industry conducted by ISPA (International Spa Association) in 2007, it was found that women are dominating the health and wellness spa industry. The core market for the industry is the baby boomers and this market has an increasing curiosity towards alternative treatments. It was also found that the average spa-goers are in their 30s to 40s. Furthermore the study found that the main purpose for visiting a spa is relaxation. (ISPA, 2007 as cited in Cooper & Erfurt-Cooper, 2009, p. 168)

3.2.2 Lifestyles

Several trends are contributing to the wellness boom. These trends are mainly created through demographic, economic and lifestyle changes. The developed countries population is aging and this creates a new desire for wellness. The healthcare is becoming increasingly more expensive which makes it even more important to stay healthy.

3.3 The spa industry growth

The spa industry has had tremendous growth in the past two decades. From having the focus on health and hydrotherapy the industry has become an hotel amenity. (Tabacchi, 2010)

3.3 The Wellness Industry´s approach to satisfy new needs

3.4 The ideal Holistic Resort

There are many definitions of holistic wellness as mention earlier, but in order to be a great resort some factors should be covered. In an article by Zimmer and Clarke 2006, they describe some of the features a holistic wellness resort should posses. The spa/resort should consider the environment they are surrounded by when designing the spa. It is also important to use non-toxic materials when building the resort. They should use local resources and encourage systems to progress by itself without much need to interfere. Since water has been the cornerstone of spas for centuries, it is important for the water to have top quality. The spa/resort should also take advantage of natural sunlight as much as possible and encourage air-flow. (Zimmer & Clarke, 2006)

Furthermore Zimmer and Clarke stress the importance of natural settings, in order for visitors to reconnect with nature.

According to Smith & Puczkó (2009) typical activities at a holistic retreat could be yoga, karma yoga, co-listening, dance/paint/sing, life coaching and dream workshops.

In an article by Spa Asia Magazine in 2005, a holistic spa was defined and holistic treatments includes “psychotherapies, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, iridology, reiki, naturopathy, Ayurveda, sound healing, aroma therapy, massage and hydrotherapy.” (as cited in Cooper & Erfurt-Cooper, 2009, p. 37)

3.5 Western Europe´s Wellness supply

Western Europe has many worldwide known spa´s such as Vichy in France, Baden Baden in Germany, Bath in the United Kingdom and Spa in Belgium. Thalassotherapy has a long history in Western Europe, especially in France. There are more than 500 wellness hotels in Germany which is quite an impressing number. Holistic wellness is increasing rapidly in Western Europe which includes yoga and meditation retreats, trade shows and festivals (Smith & Puczkó, 2009).

3.6 Sweden´s Wellness supply

Based on the website, there are 59 spa hotels in Sweden (Spa Hotell i Sverige, 2010). on the other hands lists 51 spa hotels in Sweden (Spa Weekend Hotels, 2010).

According to Smith & Puczkó, (2009), p. 129 Northern Europe is under-developed in terms of “prominent approach to health tourism”, while Western Europe is advanced in their approach.

Due to the lack of natural healing assets and tradition, people do not tend to believe or trust the valuable impacts of medical waters. Therefore health and wellness tourism is more based on relaxation, fitness and saunas (Smith & Puczkó, 2009). However, Dr. Carl Curman introduces the first bath of the Nordic countries in Sweden, 1885 (Sturebadets historia, 2010).

Nordic countries have always been associated with saunas, and it is more a part of everyday life than a spa luxury. Other well-known fitness is Nordic walking (Smith & Puczkó, 2009).

Cryotherapy is one form of treatment which is very popular in Nordic countries.

“Svenska Spahotell” is a union for Swedish high-qualitative spa hotels. In order to become a member of the union, certain criteria’s concerning fitness, relaxation, nutrition and contingence has to be met. The union´s purpose is to market the spa members, educate, develop competency, answer employer questions and benchmarking.


(Nutek, 2008)

3.7 The future for spa hotels

Schletterer Wellness & Spa GmbH is one of the leading spa planning and consulting firm worldwide and their article “Spa trends 2020: You can only score with surprises!” identifies a number of prospects for the spa industry. (Schletterer, 2008)

4. Empirical Research

4.1 Semi-structured interviews with holistic spa hotels in Sweden

4.1.1 What was the reason for implementing a holistic approach?

The majority of the spa hotels stress the importance of taking the “whole” into consideration. It is important to consider both the physical body and the mind and spirit. The spa manager at Yasuragi Hasseludden says that “It is a part of our basic principles to see the human as a whole” (Goos, 2010).

Two hotels are a member of “Svenska Spa Hotell” and they say that in order to be a part of this union, certain requirements have to be met and that is the reason for this holistic approach.

Two hotels elucidate that they have had a long history of co-operations with

Bill Carlson

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