Ease of Denial

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”.

In The Guardian a couple of weeks ago , ex CEO of  the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, published a very honest and candid article about being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, his journey since, the horror he experienced and not least, the bitter irony.


It is almost inconceivable that the Chief of the National Health Service would not know and recognise, the symptoms for a disease that he is so familiar, that simultaneously poses a threat to ‘overwhelm’ the capacity of the NHS.  It struck me too, that this is a prime example of just how ‘human’ we all are and, how fallible. His own refutation is an almost constant state, for so many. Whether it be related to weight, relationships, finances or emotional health, ‘denial’ is a very real issue, that reaches across every segment of society.

Travel, like food, is a medicine of sorts.  New places, culture and sunshine, landscapes to explore, local cuisine to sample and indigenous traditions to experience.  All my travel of the last few weeks has been for the purpose of speaking on ‘Wellness

Tourism’ – the rise and relevance of it and why it is growing so fast – 50% faster than every other global tourism segment. It is impossible to lay claim to a single reason for this growth and significance, but…

Could it be, that we are headed for a new dawn of recognition? Perhaps those who have been in denial (for whatever reason) are waking up to the need  to take control and live a more wellness-anchored lifestyle?  Through that revelation, it seems that priorities are being re-examined.  Leisure and travel time is being more focused on self care, pro active health and self initiated wellness practice, and this is mounting in importance in people’s lives.

Stress busting experiences translate into fantastic holidays that recharge batteries and continue to motivate positive daily habits, clearing the mind and reducing stress to non existent levels.

Estonia, Spain, the UAE and Madeira have been my recent destinations. State of health is something that everyone relates to and every country has there own way of translating what wellness means to them. Estonia’s bath-house culture, thermal waters and healing muds mean that wellness is very much a mainstream practice. Spain harnesses wine and olive oil, hot springs and the naturally relaxing Madeira_matural_beauty.jpgMediterranean culture and the UAE boasts hammams, steam baths and a penchant for beauty and indulgence. The Madeira Islands hold a near utopia of wellness balance, from the flora and fauna to the healing sands and waters of Porto Santo.

Enjoying authentic local practices is a wonderful way of meeting both personal need and also getting a taste of the traditions and uniqueness of the country being visited.

But, it’s more than that. Having wellness and wellness tourism featuring more and more strongly in consumer minds, opens a need, not only to meet demand and supply the right services, but also, to support with the right infrastructure to allow demand to grow.

A couple of nights ago Arianna Huffington launched her latest book, in George Osbourne’s living room, no less. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life


Not dissimilar to Sir David, from the perspective of being driven and in denial for the consequences her actions were having on her body. Having ‘seen the light’ she now heralds balance in the workplace and on happiness and contentment, says “My attitude to what happens is ultimately more important than what happens”

We shouldn’t wait for the ‘code red’. Life is indeed fragile but it is also rich and joyously unpredictable. In a world wracked by ‘the global health crisis’ the fastest growing tourism segment [wellness tourism] is anchored in prevention.  The challenge, is how we ensure the latter extinguishes the former.