The Rise of Retreats: Impact of Retreats on Contemporary Culture

September 21, 2023
Written By:
Written By:
September 21, 2023

Recently, we’ve noticed something quite exciting. The traditional idea of jetting off for a vacation or weekend getaway focused on indulging in various pleasures (read: a lot of alcohol & maybe a few questionable decisions) seems to be losing its appeal. Instead, there’s a growing trend toward embracing JOMO, which stands in stark contrast to the dominant FOMO. People are trading in their party hats for yoga mats, embracing a different kind of getaway—one centered around wellness and self-discovery.

And when we talk “retreats,” we’re not just talking about meditation and yoga sessions. This concept has had a major makeover. More and more folks from the next generation are choosing retreats as a way to grow personally and discover their true selves. The options are as diverse as they are appealing: silent retreats (the intense kind), yoga and pilates getaways, Thai boxing and MMA camps, revitalising spas, transformative spiritual journeys, survival retreats, thrilling surf escapes, and so much more. It’s not just about boosting mental wellness and personal development; it’s also a fantastic way to connect with spirits and sharpen those social skills.

Source: Midjourney

COVID-19 has not been that favourable

By now, you probably won’t be shocked to hear that this retreat resurgence owes a lot to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Science of People, a whopping 47% of Gen Z and 53% of Millennials were already feeling the burnout before the pandemic even hit. These numbers have only worsened in the aftermath of the global crisis.

What’s truly interesting is how our perception of retreats has done a complete 180 in just a few short years. Yoga, wellness, and silent retreats, which once seemed a bit old-fashioned, have now become vibrant, highly sought-after experiences. Active retreats, especially, have the favour with the next generation. Think yoga, lifestyle, nutrition, and surf retreats. And if you’re hunting for these retreat gems, forget about scouring Google; nowadays, Instagram and TikTok have become the primary platforms for uncovering the latest and most exciting retreat experiences.

Commercialisation in Wellness

Okay, let’s be honest; this is a development that we at The Next Cartel wholeheartedly support. We believe in the importance of personal growth and the further development of social skills, all while riding a wave on a surfboard. In fact, we find it pretty intriguing that there’s a significant group out there with the courage to explore their spirituality.

Now, the retreat and wellness industry is preparing for an extraordinary journey in the coming years. According to the Global Wellness Institute, an industry already valued at $639 billion is projected to grow by a staggering 21% by 2025. That’s massive. More and more people are able to afford it without hesitation. Obviously, this also naturally attracts those profit-driven individuals eager to exploit this golden market. Surely, this won’t have any adverse effects on the climate or the local environment, right?

Of course, it will. We’re bombarded with videos, ads, and flashy narratives luring us into cultural journeys or yoga retreats in Southeast Asia or various countries on the African continent. It all looks incredibly inviting and serene, but the locals won’t necessarily welcome you with open arms. To them, you’re often just a walking wallet with no other agenda than personal gain. Let’s take a moment to ponder: how is it possible that in often developing countries, rows of buildings with all contemporary conveniences suddenly appear? The answer is unfortunately quite simple: because these areas are often unprotected, and any form of tourism is attracted by (often) corrupt officials. Frequently, these resorts leave a significant footprint on the surroundings and nature. We’re not painting an overly bleak picture, but it doesn’t quite sit right with us.

Consider how many yoga and meditation retreats there are in Bali alone. Trust us when we say that you don’t need to travel 12,365 kilometers to foster personal growth or find mental clarity. No, in our view, it makes more sense to explore these opportunities locally or, at most, take a train ride to engage in meaningful activities. Companies can make a fortune from you, and they’re not shy about crafting captivating campaigns to catch you. We have our reservations about this.

Source: Ulises

Connection & impact on creative, contemporary landscape

Let’s get back to the essence of this article. The trend is undeniably notable and, like everything in this world, it has its pros and cons. It’s unquestionably advantageous that there’s less taboo surrounding personal development, and mental health. Through our extensive research on Generation Alpha and our current observations, we’ve seen that the next potential pandemic could be a mental one. Therefore, this healthy trend is one that we wholeheartedly support.

Many companies can learn from this trend. We all know that one friend who goes on annual ski trips with their employer or takes yoga and pilates classes in Ibiza. It’s undeniably glamorous, but it can be rather self-oriented. It’s about gaining favour by offering exciting benefits to attract and retain talent.

Let’s turn our attention to the next generation for a moment, where four points stand out:

  • They are entrepreneurial.
  • They crave exploration and travel.
  • They yearn for authentic connections and networking.
  • They strive to reduce stress and anxiety.
Source: YZA Voku

Retreats have an impact: time to give back to the culture.

Major brands, it’s time to wake up! There’s a massive demographic waiting to be invested in for the future. Beyond the likelihood of gaining a stellar reputation and it being an excellent PR story to give back to the community, the community genuinely needs it. No one wants a generation that’s reliant on antidepressants and can’t find the courage to make a phone call. Companies, seize the opportunity to make a difference.

Let’s take a moment to focus on the fashion and beauty market. We’ve seen some nice initiatives promoting body positivity or organisations donating a percentage to selected charities. However, this isn’t enough. It’s largely your responsibility that this vast generation is obsessed with their appearance and the logo displayed on their chest. It’s laughable how few fashion houses take responsibility and establish programs to make a positive impact on the youth, let alone the world.

No kidding, just look up how much the fashion and beauty industry does to improve the mental health of its customers. Spoiler alert: it’s very little.

One organisation that stands out positively, though, is Pinterest. They’ve initiated a program to promote positivity and tranquility: ‘Havens: Invest in Rest.’

In our view, they’re a shining example for many. While we’re at it, how easy is it to grab a bag of money and a group of enthusiasts within a mega organisation? Take a moment to look around and invest in a local initiative that benefits both people and the environment. You’d be astonished to see how much is poured into marketing. Grab a small slice of the pie and reinvest it in the community and culture. You can brand the heck out of it, but take action. Just ensure it’s more original than building a basketball court or a football field; we’ve seen those already.

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