Celebrity Cruise looks beyond design and wellness
Celebrity Cruises’ new ship Beyond will launch next year, with Gwyneth Paltrow as wellbeing adviser and a women’s wellness panel comprising leading female entrepreneurs in the wellness space. From in-room fitness menus to cashmere mattresses and a new plant-based restaurant, Beyond is establishing itself as the go-to destination for a luxury, holistic wellness experience. Frances Marcellin reports.
An emergency drill onboard AIDAsol cruise ship in 2019. Image: MikhailBerkut / Shutterstock.com
Celebrity Cruises has put luxury wellness in the spotlight on board its newest ship Beyond. With a strong focus on women’s wellness, the company has worked to create a holistic programme that is unique to the cruise and wellness tourism industries.
The 237m (1,073ft) sister of Edge-class ships Edge and Apex, has increased in length by 21m, and some of this has been dedicated to expanding the wellness spaces on board. Designer Kelly Hoppen and architect Tom Wright, of WKK, were both involved with the improvements at the Retreat – which now has a 40% larger, two-storey sundeck – and the Resort Deck, which has expanded open-air spaces.
“Wellness is so fundamental to our philosophy at Celebrity Cruises, that we continue to build and grow a truly special onboard experience where it is woven into every aspect of the guest journey from the stateroom to the spa,” says Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president & CEO of Celebrity Cruises.
“And, because we’re doing all of this at sea, which is incredibly therapeutic in itself, it becomes a wonderful wellness journey unlike anything in the world.”
Beyond wellness on trend
After a 16-month shutdown of the cruise industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 50% of US consumers expect to spend more and treat themselves at the end of it, according to a McKinsey survey, and those consumers who enjoy cruising have an extra budget for luxury cruises after the pandemic.
Launching in April 2022 in Southampton, UK, Beyond is well-positioned to benefit from these consumer groups and it is directly on trend for tapping into the booming wellness economy.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness economy is now a $4.5tn market, with wellness tourism – which has been on the rise since about 2008 – valued at $639bn.
Today’s consumers view wellness across six dimensions: better health, better fitness, better nutrition, better appearance, better sleep, and better mindfulness.
Consumers’ interpretation of wellness is no longer confined to the spa. A separate survey from McKinsey shows that today’s consumers view wellness across six dimensions: better health, better fitness, better nutrition, better appearance, better sleep, and better mindfulness.
The survey also found that compared with two to three years ago, after their experience of the pandemic, more consumers are making wellness a priority. In the UK, for example, 51.3% of respondents have increased their prioritisation of wellness. In China, that figure is at 66% and in Brazil, it stands at 74.1%.
As Beyond allows guests to take a holistic approach to wellness they can choose wellness options across the board and customise the details, from how they sleep, to how they work out, what they eat and the skin products that they use. Areas such as the rooftop garden, which has cantilevered float pools that extend over the edge of the water, and The Retreat, designed by Wright and Hoppen, have been cleverly designed to optimise feelings of peace and harmony.
Customisable stateroom lighting and pillow firmness, partnerships with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop brand and the Mark Whalberg-backed F45 Training (fun HIIT training), and plant-based “clean” foods from new restaurant Blu are just some of the ways in which Beyond is catering to guests concerned with their wellness on board.
Goop and women’s wellness on board
Last year, Celebrity Cruises intended to bring actress and goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow on board Apex during a Mediterranean cruise to host an experience in the Retreat. But as the pandemic raged and plans halted, Goop was planned into Beyond’s wellness programme from 2022.
On Instagram Paltrow had announced she is Celebrity’s new wellbeing advisor and would be “curating programming and fitness kits to add to Celebrity’s wellness the experience (sic)” and during a press conference she confirmed they would be putting together some Goop kits, “curating some special programming”, and “participating in Celebrity’s Women in Wellness initiative”.
With Gwyneth at the helm, the “first-at-sea” Women in Wellness programme brings together successful women from the industry to provide a unique and holistic programme.
These comprise: yoga expert Katie Brauer who is founder of the Yoga Professional; Noella Gabriel, a skin and body care expert who is the president of leading luxury skincare brand Elemis; Kiki Koroshetz, the wellness director at Goop; Morgan Mitchell, an Australian sprinter and F45 training athlete; Kimberly Snyder, founder of lifestyle brand Solluna and the creator of the ship’s onboard meditation series; and Ruth Zukerman, the co-founder of SoulCycle who guides the onboard cycling.
We have chosen to work with best-in-class partners in every category to deliver a holistic programme designed to improve the well-being of the guest’s mind, body, and spirit,” says Brian Abel, Celebrity’s senior vice-president of hotel operations.
“The response to our AquaClass offerings has been phenomenal and we know this new programme, designed for modern travellers, will exceed all expectations.”
New for Beyond are the AquaClass SkySuites, which have been designed by Kelly Hoppen. Other stateroom options include two-story Edge Villas with outdoor plunge pools with sharp interior design.
AquaClass means guests can dine at Blu, a restaurant dedicated to clean cuisine and plant-based options, as well as access other wellness-dedicated options, such as unlimited access to the onboard SEA thermal suite. This area comprises eight spaces that include infrared sauna rooms, heated sunbeds with ocean views, a “rainfall water therapy room”, a Crystalarium (provides healing energy from an amethyst crystal), and a hammam Turkish bath.
A good night’s sleep is vital for good health. According to the Global Wellness Institute, mental wellness is a $121bn market, of which “senses, spaces, and sleep” make up $49.5bn, and meditation and mindfulness $2.9bn.
Sleep is taken seriously on board Beyond through the provision of a king-sized cashmere mattress and a pillow menu that encourages guests to choose their desired firmness level. All Celebrity Cruises bedding can be viewed on the eXhale website at celebritybedcollection.com where the mattress is priced at $3,050.
An in-room fitness menu has also been created for guests. “It’s really broken down into five different categories, they can choose from yoga, meditation, strength, stretch and even cardio,” said Abel. “They can pick from this menu and we will send those amenities to their rooms – it’s a really customised wellness experience.”
New to the ship are Aqua Class SkySuites, an immersive living experience that features floor-to-ceiling ocean views, private verandas, luxurious bedding, and other wellness amenities.
Smart tech supporting health and safety
To further customise the guest experience in the stateroom and have more control over the senses and spaces aspect of their stay, guests can also operate certain elements in their rooms from their smartphones. Light dimming, temperature setting and adjusting window shades are all possible from the app.
Celebrity Cruises has used technology to not only enhance the passenger experience but also to support additional health and safety protocols, designed to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 on board. Just as Royal Caribbean has designed and deployed the new tech-powered Muster 2.0 drill on board, Celebrity Cruises have also embraced this “eMuster” technology. This means guests no longer have to crowd together in one area for the mandatory safety briefing, but can access the information via their smartphone or stateroom TV.
Technology has also been used to reduce contact and friction on board, and to ease areas prone to congestion. Dinner reservations, making plans through in-app chat, expedited boarding, and activity information are all available through the app, freeing up crew and information points on board.
A next-level wellness experience
Beyond’s maiden voyage will start on 27 April 2022 from Southampton, UK, providing 10-night cruises in Europe, stopping in Bordeaux, Lisbon, Mallorca, Seville, Malaga, and Barcelona.
Mediterranean cruises follow, including France and Italy itineraries, then the ship heads for the Greek Isles until October. She will then operate in the Caribbean during the winter.
McKinsey predicts that the global wellness market will grow from 5%-10% each year as consumer interest and purchasing power increase after the decline during Covid-19.
With consumers more heavily invested in wellness and poised to spend on rejuvenating their health, Celebrity Cruises’ deep dive into wellness on Beyond should be a well-timed launch.
“Aqua class is for those guests who truly want a wellness experience and a holistic experience,” said Abel. “We wanted to take it to the next level on Celebrity Beyond.”
All images credit: Celebrity Cruises