Little Austria is a spa and wellness travel giant (the 5th largest market globally) even with its tiny population of 8.5 million. But Austria is so well established, and has been for so long, that people often overlook their historic – and current – innovation. This is the land of “wellness hotels” (resting, breathing fresh air, drinking pure water, exercising in Alpine nature, soaking in hot springs, etc.), where spas are as vast as theme parks – and their menus seem as long as novels.
With the Global Wellness Summit headed to Kitzbühel, Tyrol, Austria (the cradle of wellness tourism) this fall, the conference spotlighted five unique Austrian wellness experiences. Some are a century old, like the Mayr Cure or hay baths. But new and fascinating things are underway, like Sauna Aufguss shows, where sauna-meisters stage theatrical performances with costumes, song and dance in sauna “theaters” that hold 50 to 300 people. A far cry from how most Americans or Asians “do” sauna, which is often a lonely, small and uninspiring affair.