In conversation with Wellness Tourism Summit Founder, Katherine Droga

At Waterlily, we collaborate and work alongside leaders in spa and wellness. Last year, I sat down (over Zoom) to talk with the fantastic global tourism leader and Wellness Tourism Summit Founder, Katherine Droga.

Katherine has over 20 years of experience working in the tourism sector and has lived a life full of transformative wellness experiences. Katherine is also the founder of Droga & Co., a global tourism and events agency, Chair of the Global Wellness Institute’s, Wellness Tourism Initiative, Advisor to the Transformational Travel Council and member of the Wellness Tourism Association.

We had a wonderful conversation about travel, wellness and the rituals that shape our lives. It was an absolute pleasure to learn from her amazing expertise and be inspired about our role in wellness travel as spa and skin experts in 2021 and beyond.

You might like to listen to our chat or read a bit about my thoughts and feelings on the themes of wellness, spa and travel below.

How can we create better travel experiences for ourselves, our communities and the planet?

In my conversation with Katherine, we delved into what travel has the potential to be as we move forward into 2021. We discussed the role of sustainability, transformational travel and wellness more broadly.

With international travel not a reality for the moment, we also spoke about what it means to explore our own backyard, with some of the best travel experiences just waiting on our doorsteps.

Katherine also shared how transformational travel, with values such as sustainability and mindfulness, is a better way to travel, not just for ourselves, but for the communities we visit, and ultimately for our planet.

What is transformational travel?

Transformational travel is a more profound, more active way to engage with travel.

Woman in the jungle hiking

“Travel experiences that help us create change in our lives, but are also intentional. You might be a bit restless, and you feel like you need a change, but you don’t know what it is. You change as a person through the people you meet, the experiences you have. No one can give it to you, but you do it for yourself,” Katherine explains.

So what needs to happen for a transformational trip to occur?

The Transformational Travel Council in the US explains three things can make a trip transformational travel:

  • Stretching yourself
  • Connection to nature
  • Connection to local culture and community

“Being present and mindful on this journey and wellness can be a really good part of a transformational travel experience,” Katherine says.

At the heart of it, it’s intentionally travelling to stretch, learn, and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world

“Wellness travel can have a positive impact not only on the individual traveller but also local communities, destinations and the planet overall,” Katherine said.

Exploring our own backyard

Despite international travel being off the cards for the moment, some of our most enriching, and intentional travel experiences can be in our own backyards. Exploring Australia, Katherine shares, has been some of her most memorable and rewarding experiences.

What is the role of spa in wellness travel?

Over the past 15 years, I’ve seen spa and its role in wellness travel evolve.

My conversation with Katherine made me feel excited to see how the spa wellness space can shift into a more holistic offering for guests seeking transformational travel experiences.

It’s an exciting time, and the opportunities for spa and salon owners to work with travel leaders in the space of travel wellness are genuinely endless, and it is one of the key reasons Waterlily is sponsoring the inaugural Wellness Tourism Summit 2021, later this year.

With transformational travel, we see active seeking of conscious experiences to link in with nature, such as hiking, or retreats.

And in the spa industry, the opportunities in this space to complement and link in with these intentions are incredibly exciting, whether that is adding more treatments closely aligned with these nature experiences, or a review of existing body treatments designed to soothe sore muscles (ideal for guests who have just finished big hikes) or how you can add more mindfulness to your facial treatments on offer (ideal for those who want to adopt mindful wellness to look after their skin.) This is just the surface.

At Waterlily, our collection of spa treatments are wellness experiences that deeply nourish, not only the body but also the mind and soul. Touch is integral to our wellbeing. It is embedded into the way Waterlily treatments are delivered, whether it’s a professional treatment in a Waterlily spa, or taking a moment to deeply breath in the essential oils as you infuse serum after cleansing. Returning to touch for a moment, the science on touch continues to support the absolute importance of physical contact, for everything from early development, communication, personal relationships and boosting immunity.

Innovation in wellness travel & the role of spa leaders

So with this in mind, how can spa owners embrace this in the services we offer to guests? It’s something we’re looking forward to connecting and collaborating with our spa partners on as we move forward into 2021.

The science on touch has uncovered it is so much more profound than we could have ever imagined. As skin experts and spa wellness therapists, our role in wellbeing through the delivery of spa treatments has endless potential to tap into both emotional and physical wellbeing benefits to guests; it’s something I have seen firsthand in my role in the spa industry these past 15 years.

My team at Waterlily, particularly my educator and business development manager Natasha Partridge, has been focusing on how important it is to welcome and host our guests through treatments from the moment they enter our spa and salon spaces. Connection is at the heart of what we do and we love seeing the positive results of this holistic approach to skin wellbeing in the lives of our Waterlily community.

Rituals of self-care to stay well

In our conversation, I had to ask Katherine what rituals of self-care mean for her, and what helps her stay grounded as a mother, in business and more broadly in life. She explained:

“If I don’t put the time in, I will go off-track. So the rituals that are really important to me are things around meditation, that helps me. And rituals around walking and getting out. It grounds me for the day. And, of course, caffeine.”

As for nourishing oneself, Katherine explains, “For me, it always comes back to water. Whether it’s a beautiful, simple, deep-soaky bath or a swim. Water is big for me; it helps me switch off.”

Thank you so much for your time Katherine, it was an absolute pleasure to speak with you and I’m so grateful for being able to discuss travel, wellness and spa with you.

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