Have Bitcoin, Will Travel? 4 Strategies for Crypto-Holidays
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Have Bitcoin, Will Travel? 4 Strategies for Crypto-Holidays

A host of companies–including luxury ski resorts and at least one surf town—let you pay for R&R services with digital cash.

By R.T Watson
Tue, Mar 29, 2022 1:09pmGrey Clock 3 min

MAYBE YOU’RE still flush with crypto cash. Or perhaps your Bitcoin portfolio is hemorrhaging value amid the recent turbulence. Either way, if turning digital assets into rest and relaxation sounds appealing, you have options. Marko Jovic, a 41-year-old telecom engineer from Belgrade, Serbia, began using crypto to pay for vacations in 2021. He said despite a recent fall in value he can pay for a lot of things with his crypto. “You can basically do anything you want with crypto,” said Mr. Jovic.

Now that you can get debit cards linked to cryptocurrency portfolios, it’s never been easier to use digital cash while on the move. But for travelers who want to avoid the extra fees associated with using a crypto card, the alternative is to seek out merchants willing to accept cryptocurrency like Bitcoin directly. Luckily, a growing list of companies, hotels and destinations are eager to do business with crypto consumers. Here, a few up-to-the-minute moves:

1. Book a trip via an online travel agency

Travala.com has emerged as the leader among the handful of online booking sites that accept crypto. It may offer fewer routes and destinations than traditional air-travel sites do and sometimes list slightly higher prices, said Mr. Jovic, who recently used it to book a flight to Budapest, but he finds the ability to pay with crypto outweighs those factors. While Travala co-founder and CEO Juan Otero, who worked at Booking.com in the late 2000s, agrees his company needs to be more competitive on airfare, he argues that its luxury hotel offerings compare well to rivals’. Of Travala’s monthly active users, Mr. Otero said, an-above average number opt for “four- and five-star hotels.” Omar Hamwi, a 37-year-old crypto professional from Washington, D.C., and self-described loyal customer of Travala, booked a stay most recently at the five-star Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii. “I have idle crypto so I generally do like to use it when I can,” he said.

2. Buy a flight ticket directly with the airline

You can book flights directly with at least one crypto-friendly airline—AirBaltic, Latvia’s premier carrier which services more than 70 destinations, primarily in the Baltics and Europe—but if you’re not flying out of Riga, it may be hard to take advantage. Still, according to the airline, since it began accepting crypto back in 2014, more than 1,000 customers have purchased tickets that way.

3. Reserve a swanky hotel

The Chedi, a chic luxury resort in the Swiss Alps lets guests pay with Bitcoin or Ethereum, as long as they’re spending more than $200 when paying for rooms or services like ski rentals and spa days—easily done since room rates generally start at $650 a night. The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts, a boutique hotel group with locations in Europe and Asia including Rome, Amsterdam, Bali and Phuket, also accepts cryptocurrency bookings. For travelers who prefer to spend their crypto gains stateside, there’s the Kessler Collection, whose portfolio include several hotels in the southern U.S., as well as a ski lodge in Beaver Creek, Colo.

4. Visit a ‘cryptopia’

If anything close to a crypto Utopia exists, it’s the surf town of El Zonte, El Salvador, otherwise known as “Bitcoin Beach.” There, travelers can grub on pupusas after a day of surf lessons at El Zonte’s point break, and pay for it all with Bitcoin. “Most of the merchants accept Bitcoin,” said Carol Souza, a Brazilian influencer focused on educating people about crypto. Other cities are expected to follow suit. Earlier this month, the small picturesque city of Lugano, Switzerland, announced it is also adopting cryptocurrency as legal tender.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: 28 March 2022.



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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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