New Delhi: In a bid to tap into burgeoning wellness market, beauty and wellness firm VLCC Group has forged a strategic partnership with Minor International. The hospitality major owns 523 popular hotel and resort chains under brands such as Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and St. Regis among others in 53 countries across Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Indian Ocean, Europe and South America. It has for the first time entered into an exclusive partnership with a wellness and beauty services provider.

As part of the association, VLCC will invest $25 million to develop and operate therapeutic wellness & beauty centres, both residential as well as standalone, at hotel and resort properties owned, managed and invested in by Minor Group, at 50 locations beginning with its signature and upscale 70 acre, 196-room beach-side property, Avani+ Hua Hin Resort in Thailand, which is likely to be operational by the first quarter of next financial year.

"We are very excited about this collaboration. Minor has best of world class infrastructure and we have the best wellness and beauty domain expertise. It's a great combination between the two. For the last 30 years we have been managing our 340 wellness centers in 13 countries in 165 cities. These have always been day centers we have been thinking about getting into wellness tourism because it has a huge potential. This seems like a right opportunity," said Mukesh Luthra, chairman, VLCC Group to Mint in a telephonic conversation.

These centres across the 50 locations are expected to be operational in the next 18 to 24 months. The India specific centres will come up in 12-16 months. The company is looking at markets such as India, Middle East, Qatar, Oman, UK and South America to promote wellness tourism.

Growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25%-30%, VLCC Group is a 1,200 crore strong company with presence in 14 countries across South Asia, South East Asia, the GCC Region, and East Africa. This partnership will further add to its revenue from international operations.

“We are targetting 50% of our revenue from the international expansion," Luthra added.

The VLCC Wellness centres at Minor’s properties will offer solutions for lifestyle related medical and chronic health issues, detoxification therapies, spa and beauty treatments for body, skin and hair as well as aesthetic dermatology treatments. The programmes will offer customised diets and physical activity regimen to deliver holistic results.

VLCC said it will work with experienced practitioners ranging from medical specialists, dermatologists, nutritionists, physiotherapists, fitness trainers and ayurveda specialists to cosmetologists will collaborate to cater to each guest’s specific needs and requirements. The medical improvement and wellness enhancement programmes will focus on diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and the gut ecosystem.

William E. Heinecke, Chairman and Founder of Minor International, owning company of Avani Hotels & Resorts said, “Our vision is to be a leader in delivering exceptional experiences that anticipate and satisfy our customers’ aspirations. With VLCC, we believe we have found the right partner to build what we see as a transformational business offering with Avani+ Hua Hin. This wellness centre will be reflective of our deep understanding of what our customers deserve while providing optimal hotel facilities our guests can enjoy before, during and after wellness and medi-spa treatments."

There's a huge upsurge among consumers towards wellness in general as well as wellness tourism. According to Global Wellness Economy Monitor report released in October 2018 wellness Tourism, valued at US$ 639 billion in 2017, is growing faster than global tourism, with the former having a longer average length of stay as well as a higher spend per tourist than other forms of tourism. In 2017, international wellness tourists spent 53% higher than the average international tourist while the domestic wellness tourist paid a 178% premium over its non-wellness counterpart.