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I recently had an interesting appointment for an Alpine hotel project. A holiday hotel that was already starting to show its age is changing owners. The new owners shall bring fresh capital and lead the hotel into a successful, prosperous future. These are the facts at hand.

The project was special not so much in terms of its economic situation or its size. What struck me in preparing for the appointment was the location of the hotel high above a well-known – if somewhat outdated – quaint little town. The hotel is situated on a small plateau that can only be reached by a cable car – also somewhat outdated. The place is quiet and lofty and offers an unobstructed view of the woods, mountains and rocks.

However, what really makes this project special is the fact that the new owners purchasing the place are a two-doctor couple from Germany. She is an internal specialist and cardiologist. He works as a gastroenterologist. Both of them are permanently employed by a renowned hospital.

I couldn’t help but wonder why a well-educated academic couple with secure employment, family-friendly working hours, a fair share of vacation time and excellent internal career opportunities would relinquish all of that to start a hotel business.

You could just consider this the famous “odd one out”, the exception of the rule. However, I find that saying so would not do justice to what is really happening. Twenty years ago this would have been unheard of: a medical specialist starting out in the tourism industry? Selling rooms and drinks? That would most likely have been considered a career setback or a detrimental departure from the medical profession.

However, leaving the panorama deck after a long meeting with the new hotel owners and returning to solid ground, the following becomes apparent: the tectonic shifts that have given rise to wellness tourism over the last few years seem to have reached a new dimension. The idea of health-promoting tourism is no longer merely a topic of theoretical discussion among researchers investigating future trends. It is becoming an integral part of modern lifestyle and thus a mainstream commodity for future generations of vacationers, which is remarkable.

It is remarkable because the old holiday concept of “must experience”, of organized “anti-everyday” and of a compensatory sensory overload is increasingly losing grounds to a holistic “good for you” vacation concept. This concept intends to change and improve lifestyles, which, in turn, requires a solid professional and medical foundation. In light of these findings it really seems quite logical that a young and dedicated two-doctor couple, guided by their medical (and possibly economic) instincts, would set out to follow this socio-political call all the way up a remote mountain.

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