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Creating an Adirondack wellness destination

August 23, 2014
By ERNEST HOHMEYER , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

From National Geographic Traveler to USA Today to leading travel publications in Europe, there is a buzz about wellness travel.

All agree that it is growing.


The many faces

Their definitions of wellness are remarkably similar. As we have talked here in the past, it is a more holistic definition where local culture, food, a diverse range of wellness services from clinical to outdoor recreation and nature are extremely important.

Apparently this trend is not going away but is only growing. And as we take a look at our graying population, the knowledge that a lot things we do and eat are not necessarily good for you, and the overall interest in being well and green, this may become more important to our Adirondack economy.

Because here is the other 4 things about wellness, it is weather-proof and can be a draw in the shoulder season. It may help to reduce the reliance on traditional tourism as the new wellness brings many industries together. These factors may become critical as we deal with climate change, historic seasonality and wrestling with economic diversity.


Diverse appeal

And finally it all not about that typical visitor. The Global Wellness Institute in their report the "Global Wellness Tourism Economy" prepared by SRI International in 2013 talks about the "Primary Purpose Wellness Traveler" where "Wellness is the sole purpose or motivating factor for their trip & destination choice," and the "Secondary Purpose Wellness Traveler" who seeks to "maintain wellness while taking any type of trip."

In other words, there are those that seek to incorporate wellness while they are kayaking or hiking and those who's specific reason to come here is due to wellness such as veteran's retreats, cancer patients, etc.

According to an on-line article in Travel Age West, "Top 10 Wellness Destinations" by Denise Lee she asks the question "So what makes for a good wellness destination?" She states "According to a recent survey by online magazine Travel to Wellness and New York-based marketing organization Well-Being Travel, the answer is nature."


Where are the Adirondacks?

Indeed, all the things the Adirondacks have is perfect to take advantage of this world-wide wellness movement. And we have it right now. It does not require the building of massive new infrastructure.

Yet in a cursory review of what are considered the "top wellness destinations" by many of these publications, I struggled to find the Adirondacks.

We don't appear to be regarded as a wellness destination. Yet we seem to be the perfect fit.


Moving forward

Three strategic areas have been identified:

I. Developing a Regional Network

This includes an awareness building effort as well as networking. Wellness has a historic stigma of being clinical or spa related only. The new wellness incorporates those aspects but is so much more. Small businesses in outdoor recreation, food, the arts and tourism may not realize they can regard themselves as "wellness related businesses." Likewise many organizations such as schools, hospitals and local government for example are vital partners if we are going to create an "Adirondack Wellness Destination."

To help with this several action items have been identified:

-Packaging our individual resources for greater marketing potential

-Furthering our region as a "Healing Center"

-Adirondack Wellness Trail

-Adirondack Wellness Publication

-Bi-Annual Wellness Summit


II. Shoulder Season Retreats

One of the goals is to work with existing organizations to develop a replicable model beginning with a regional "Healing Woods" event. The idea is to set up the format and replicate it with different themes to stimulate activity during the shoulder season. One of the beauties of wellness is that it is virtually weather bullet-proof. One of the goals is to target both the


Visitor market

Targeted audiences such as veterans, care-giving, obesity, stress, etc.


III.Wellness Business Resource Network

Many of our Adirondack wellness businesses are small or one person shops. Positioning them to take advantage of the new wellness can be difficult with minimal human and financial resources. Once again in conjunction with existing small business development organizations the goal is to offer a coordinated "Resource Network". This is envisioned to include:

-Business marketing assistance

-Shared business resources such as marketing.

-Business development networking forum among all wellness related industries.

One of the exciting initiatives is a "Wellness Business Resource Day" tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 13.


4 goals

Initially, 4 goals have been identified for the overall effort:

1. Increase economic impact of wellness for the region and our organizations

2. Develop an energy for our region as a wellness destination

3. Foster collaborations among existing organizations

4. Be a new Adirondack economic model that integrates diverse industries to create healthier economies, new markets and sustainable businesses.


Next Steps

One of the next steps envisioned is to create a "multi-industry working team." This would include:

-Wellness providers

-Health organizations



-Outdoor Recreation

-Educational Institutions

-Food and Culture

-Local Government

Interested in learning more?

If you are interested in learning more, you can contact

One of the members of the ad hoc group, Naj Wikoff, stated "We have been a wellness destination for 150 years!"

It may be time to tell the world that.



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