Resorts, destination spas and wellness practitioners are offering new retreats and services to help women in midlife navigate menopause and cope with its symptoms, which include hot flashes, insomnia and mood issues. These trips are cropping up at a time when menopause is becoming a hot topic of public conversation and is gaining notice from entrepreneurs and investors eager to attract a cohort of women who have money to spend.
“The consumer that has been going to spas is aging,” says Lynne McNees, president of the International Spa Association. “We are going to have to shift our programming.”
The Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds in England is hosting “Pause!” a women’s menopause retreat next year with yoga classes and sessions with a physician and nutritionist. In the spring, the Amilla Maldives is launching a series of five-day menopause programs run by a naturopath, which will include talks on stress reduction and healthy eating as well as intuitive dance sessions and “tree hugging therapy.”
Beginning this summer, Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas, has a “Nutrition for Menopause and Beyond” session with a registered dietitian, priced at $190 on top of nightly rates, which run about $595 a person. At Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz., a new workshop addresses the sexual problems that can occur during this time of a woman’s life.
The new retreats and services reflect recent attention to menopause and perimenopause, the years leading up to the last menstrual period that are marked by dramatic fluctuations in hormone levels.
Celebrities like actress Naomi Watts and U.K. television presenter Davina McCall are openly sharing their personal experiences. A flurry of menopause-focused books and companies, including telemedicine providers Elektra Health and Gennev, online community app Perry and supplement company Bonafide, are making midlife women’s concerns more visible, too.
With Gen Xers firmly in midlife and the oldest millennials now in their early 40s, the attention makes business sense. Global sales of menopause products such as dietary supplements reached $15.4 billion in 2021, according to market analyst Grand View Research. Wellness travel, of which women in middle age are the most active participants, grew 8% annually from 2017 to 2019 and is expected to reach $815.5 billion in 2022, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit research and advocacy group.
Many women taking menopause vacations aren’t getting the information they need from their doctors, says Beth McGroarty, vice president of research at the Global Wellness Institute. “Traditional medicine has underserved women in these issues,” she says.
In a survey of medical residents in family medicine, internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology, only 12 out of 177 respondents said they felt adequately prepared to manage the care of women going through menopause, according to a study published in 2019 in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Canyon Ranch’s wellness resorts have seen a 50% increase in the number of inquiries about menopause-related concerns over approximately the past three years, according to Stephen Brewer, the company’s director of medicine.
Doctors who specialize in treating menopause symptoms say that some of the approaches touted at retreats, like certain vitamins, minerals and herbs and particular types of exercise, aren’t backed by science.
For example, there’s no evidence that dietary supplements help with symptoms like hot flashes, says Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society and the director of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health. (Nor does exercise, she says, though it has other benefits for menopausal women.)
Nutrition advice is a popular topic at retreats, and Dr. Faubion says there is some evidence that a vegetable- and soy-heavy diet that promotes weight loss may reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Reducing stress can alleviate menopause symptoms, too, she notes.
ABOUT LAKE AUSTIN SPA RESORT
Nestled along the shores of scenic Lake Austin in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Lake Austin Spa Resort offers guests the sanctuary of a world-class spa and the warmth of a best friend’s lake house. Lake Austin Spa Resort offers all-inclusive vacation packages, which include accommodations in one of 40 charming lakeside guest rooms, three gourmet meals daily, indoor and outdoor fitness activities and classes, and a selection of more than 100 spa and body treatments in the 25,000-square foot spa.
The resort has consistently been recognized for its excellence and as a result has received numerous industry awards. Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Town & Country Magazine and Southern Living have honored Lake Austin Spa Resort as one of the best in the country and in the world.
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