Greater awareness of the planet’s health and sustainability has seeped into the global subconscious, changing people’s travel and lifestyle choices. Johannes Richter examines how this global trend is manifesting itself in the winelands.
Do you enjoy having a rooibos cappuccino in your favourite bookstore or camera shop? Or grabbing a fruit smoothie at the gym on your way out?
The presence of these options feels intuitive – and it’s no coincidence they’re on offer. It means marketers have observed what customers do when they hang out at their favourite stores and meeting places, and put two and two together.
Our daily life tends to settle into regular rhythms and patterns that shift and change according to the economic environment. These are the trends marketers try to stay ahead of. Project them on a global scale and you get what is known as megatrends – large-scale movements in consumers’ economic push (supply) and pull (demand) in the global village.
Consumers ultimately choose their leisure activities, holidays and travel destinations along these lines. As the realities of climate change and political uncertainty begin to hit closer to home, people are more willing to channel their time and resources into activities that represent a brighter future where they can still make a difference.
What better way than to combine leisure with activities that promote a sense of personal wellbeing and achievement? This marks a trend the European Travel Commission (ETC) calls World Wide Wellness, and it has as much to do with mood and emotion as physical improvement. As a destination of choice the Cape Winelands is a perfect fit for health-conscious visitors who want to combine physical activity with a wholesome environment.
Being healthy implies living well and sustainably. Sustainability is not a new concept in the wine industry – nor is its importance for tourism. The United Nations declared 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and South Africa is at the cutting edge when it comes to this focus.
Consumers looking for low-alcohol and organic options need look no further than the Cape Winelands where we’ve made world-class progress in these categories. The same holds true for the social, economic and environmental initiatives that form the backbone of sustainable practices. Our ground-breaking Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) environmental sustainability scheme is a transparent way to ensure grape and wine producers take responsibility for their environment.
Rather than just empty posturing to attract hippie visitors, this focus is central to the industry’s own vision of the future. It’s about time the broader public embraces the advantages of living and working sustainably!
Like sustainability, wellness tourism is not a new phenomenon either, but technology has given it new wings. South Africa’s broadband infrastructure has only recently risen to the task of handling the large amounts of data being thrown at it from smartphones doubling as high-definition cameras and personal organisers. Mobile devices now track health-related activities (how many steps have you walked today?)
and can broadcast the process live (#oldmanrunning), while sharing the results with like-minded friends (cue before and after shots).
The social aspect of this technology should not be underestimated, nor the opportunities it presents. The Explore Sideways app is an example of how tourism can leverage wide acceptance of technology to deliver opportunities for exploration and discovery. Some of the most popular Instagram feeds are devoted to the beauty and attraction of exotic destinations and the people enjoying them. The opportunity to instantly share an exhilarating experience or breathtaking view is an incentive that’s hard to quantify, but what is certain is that it resonates with the next generation of tourists.
Combined with our natural desire to project a personal image that’s in line with (or preferably exceeds) social expectations, the appeal of wellness tourism becomes even clearer. People want to look good doing good, and with a personal trainer in every pocket the industry only has to set the stage for activity-based travel experiences.
South African appeal
Watching how locals are embracing the Cape Winelands lifestyle, it’s clear the growing health trend isn’t just the superficial building of a glamorous personal brand resembling an old Peter Stuyvesant ad (without the cigarettes, of course). Global luxury travel network Virtuoso’s 2017 Luxe Report identified South Africa not only as the world’s top emerging adventure travel destination, but also as one of the world’s top family holiday destinations.
As the health trend gathers pace, it begins to resemble a golden opportunity for South African vineyards, which are in the ideal position to host family-friendly health and lifestyle activities in wholesome settings. Farm owners and winemakers are often the first to realise and develop the possibilities, followed by locals through word of mouth and ultimately tourists who rely on emerging technologies.
Wine never reaches its full potential in isolation, and neither will South Africa. It has everything that world-weary travellers are looking for. Here’s to good health!
Bartinney: Bartinney near Stellenbosch makes use of biological pest control and is fully carbon neutral. It has a proud record of social upliftment, ethical trade and nature conservancy, and is justifiably proud of its hidden valley. Activities at Bartinney Leisure were the result of the team’s earnest desire to share their gem with “guests and explorers”. Among the activities on offer is Skyfall, a steep, winding trail for runners, cyclists and hikers, which lends its name to a Cabernet produced on the estate. “We love the idea that people come and ‘wine’ down with us,” co-owner Rose Jordaan quips.
Meerendal Wine Estate: For Herman Coertze of Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville near Cape Town, lifestyle offerings are valuable additions, but the main focus remains to produce quality wine. Meerendal has about 18 km of trails on the estate and is a popular hub for the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club – the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere with about 7 000 members. They share their time among no less than seven wine farms. Partners and children often relax at the restaurant and jungle gym.
Meerendal’s mountain-biking legacy started with legendary South African chef David Higgs, who takes his love for biking wherever he goes. The estate is also known for hosting the Cape Epic cycle endurance race, which once had riders crushing grapes at the beginning of the race to be presented with a bottle of Epic wine at the finish line a week later.
Other popular activities on the farm include the Warrior Race which draws over 9 000 people for a chance to take part overseas, and the wildly popular Parkrun – a timed 5-km event that started in the UK in 2004 and has since mushroomed worldwide. Parkrun relies on volunteers and is not primarily competitive, allowing the whole family and their dog to participate. But here among the vineyards and rolling hills of Meerendal, Parkrun stands for a health movement that’s more than skin deep. Here, putting two and two together has resulted in a community that enjoys a healthy environment and rewards a sustainable industry, and everyone is a little healthier as a result. #MeerendalMoment.