The Well-Traveled Guide to 2018 - United Hub

The well-traveled guide to 2018

By The Hub team, January 09, 2018

As wellness enters the mainstream, the tourism industry is doubling down on ways travelers can take their healthy habits on the road. And we're not just talking about hotel gyms and in-room massages; destinations around the globe are including cutting-edge treatments, holistic practices, and even mystical modalities (hello, shamanic healing) in their offerings. Whether you're seeking a really good sweat or want to experience truly restful sleep, here are five emerging wellness trends that will have you feeling good—no matter where you go.

Shamanic Healing Leaves the Fringe

The peaceful cenote-side digs at Chabl\u00e9 ResortThe peaceful cenote-side digs at Chablé Resort

It's not just people backpacking through South America who are raving about shamanic ceremonies; today, some of the most elevated spa programs in the world are incorporating the ancient practice into their menus for next-level healing.

The Yucatán Peninsula's recently opened Chablé Resort (built around a cenote, a natural sinkhole believed by the Mayans to be a sacred power source) brought in a shaman to devise its wellness treatments, which include janzu water massages and temazcal (or Mayan sweat lodge) ceremonies alongside more Western-style facials and body work—all performed by therapists clad in linen jumpsuits from Mexico City–based designer Bianca Bejos. “What makes shamanism such a powerful wellness tool is that it's rooted in nature," says Chablé's spa director, Carmelina Montelongo. “The main reaction from our guests to shamanic treatments is curiosity at the beginning and the feeling of surprise by the end, when they discover another way of life and guidance to go back to the original form of all things."

A singing bowl treatment at Faena Hotel Miami BeachA singing bowl treatment at Faena Hotel Miami Beach

Stateside, the Tierra Santa Healing House at Faena Hotel Miami Beach also consulted with a shaman while drawing up its wellness menu. The brightly decorated 22,000-square-foot sanctuary offers palo santo and singing bowl treatments and a fully appointed wet spa whose centerpiece is a göbek taşi—a raised platform common in Turkish baths—made of Amazonite stone.

For a complete energy reboot, book a session with Jon Rasmussen, the resident shaman at Post Ranch Inn. Drums, feathers, and chanting abound, yes, but the mystical tools he uses differ depending on the “journey." No matter the implements on hand, don't be surprised if your 90 minutes ends with a tear-filled breakthrough—or just the uncanny feeling that an invisible weight's been lifted off your shoulders.

The healing waters at Chabl\u00e9The healing waters at Chablé

Art Therapy Gets Its Due

An artist-designed room at Toronto's Gladstone Hotel

Art therapy has long been deployed as a tool for stress relief, but you no longer have to fit your brushes and easel into your suitcase to experience it when you're away from home. In addition to its artist-designed rooms and a gallery space programmed by Ryerson University's School of Image Arts, Toronto's Gladstone Hotel offers watercolor and coloring workshops—as well as the longest-running life drawing class in the city, led by Walt Ruston every Wednesday night. (He's been hosting the class for 30 years.)

At Brooklyn's cityWell, a boutique bathhouse spanning the first floor of a charming brownstone building, visitors are encouraged to spend their downtime between steam-room sessions and dips in the outdoor tub putting colored pencil to paper in one of the adult coloring books stacked next to fashion magazines.

This pastime isn't exclusive to hipsters, either; the Mandarin Oriental's digital wellness program, developed with the help of the Mayo Clinic, includes coloring sheets in select spa relaxation rooms, with the goal of getting guests to spend less time on their phones pre- and post-facial. In cities like Las Vegas, where distractions abound, it's a serene yet nonetheless entertaining respite. “Holistic benefits include a still and calm mind," says Jennifer Lynn, the senior director of spa and wellness for the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas. “These mindful exercises in which we focus our attention inward help us to stop the mental chatter and create space for clearheaded thoughts."

Silence Is the New Luxury

Eremito, a wellness \u201cmonastery" in UmbriaEremito, a wellness "monastery" in Umbria

With the constant buzz of work meetings, subway chatter, and phone notifications, travelers are increasingly seeking out experiences that help block out all the noise—from the literal to the digital.

Villa Stephanie in the German spa town Baden-Baden (less than two hours from Frankfurt) recently introduced what's been dubbed a “kill switch," allowing exhausted visitors to turn off the internet in their room with the press of a button. “As noise pollution is a modern thing, there's a growing demand for places that offer quiet reflection," says Bärbel Göhner, the resort's head of communications. “Silence is a constant companion at Villa Stephanie."

Other than at check-in and while ordering at the restaurant, the only sound you'll hear at Silent Spa at Therme Laa, located about an hour outside Vienna, is running water. The recently opened space discourages guests from small talk while soaking in its dramatic pools.

Austria's Silent Spa at Therme Laa

And for a truly noise-free experience, book a stay at a wellness “monastery" like Eremito in Umbria, Italy. The getaway takes its code of silence quite seriously, swapping out religious prayer (the property is, in fact, a former monastery) for meditation, yoga, and hikes through its 7,000 acres. The austere, stone-walled buildings may tempt you to whip out your phone to post mid-contemplation photos on Instagram, but don't bother—there's no Wi-Fi or phone signal on the premises. Luckily, a 2013 Duke University study found that two hours of silence a day boost cell development in the region of the brain related to memory, so your mental snapshot of the restful vacation will actually be even more vivid.

Eremito's austere interiorEremito's austere interior

A Good Night's Sleep Goes Next Level

A room at the Six Senses Douro Valley in PortugalA room at the Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal

It's not just your waking hours that can be optimized. An increasing number of destinations are focusing on sleep time as a way to maximize wellness, and with the CDC estimating that one in three Americans don't get enough sleep (and 50 to 70 million struggle with some kind of disorder), the programs on offer go way beyond your typical turn-down service.

At many Six Senses locations, including in the Douro Valley, Portugal, guests looking to fine-tune their zzz's can take a pre-visit online questionnaire developed by renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Michael J. Breus, which not only entitles them to an individual assessment (with spa treatment suggestions included) but also to a dedicated Sleep Ambassador who preps their room and checks in daily to provide support in case, say, their handmade lambswool mattress isn't quite right. The aim is to impart habits that can be replicated anywhere—even if you live on the noisiest of streets. “It's impossible to help others toward wellness goals without having sleep be a critical factor," says Dr. Breus. “We wanted to help people learn how to get [truly amazing] sleep when at home or during other travel."

Similarly, the Rest & Renew program at New York City's The Benjamin proffers a curated range of pillows (selected according to preferred sleep position) and access to a support team 24/7, and all Conrad Hotel & Resorts guests can avail themselves of an extensive pillow menu.

If you're truly looking to reset your nighttime habits, however, opt for a multiday sleep retreat at one of the locations of U.K. luxury spa-hotel Champneys. Between the treatment sessions and aromatherapy massages, good sleep habits just might be the souvenir you take back with you.

Sauna Spaces Get Dramatic

Helsinki's newly opened L\u00f6yly sauna complexHelsinki's newly opened Löyly sauna complex

The health benefits of sauna—from moderating blood pressure to reducing the risk of Alzheimer's—are impressive, but the sweat-inducing spaces themselves are now providing the real “wow" factor.

In Finland, where it's estimated that there are 3.3 million saunas for a population of just 5.5 million, Löyly stands out for its breathtaking, undulating structure, perched on the edge of the Baltic Sea in Helsinki. Behind the wooden slats—all made from sustainable materials in what is the country's first FSC-certified building—are three different saunas, a Scandinavian minimalist-chic relaxation room, a restaurant that serves locally sourced dishes like reindeer fillet and roasted celeriac soup, and a swimming area to cool off in the sea itself. (Despite its modern appearances, Löyly sticks to local tradition in winter and drills a hole in the ice for year-round dips.) “All Finns have a sauna at home, however, up until now, tourists visiting Helsinki haven't really been able to experience a true, traditional Finnish sauna with all of the key elements," says Jasper Pääkkönen, an actor who, along with parliament member Antero Vartia, opened Löyly in 2016. “Our modest aim was to build the mother of all saunas, kind of like a flagship of what is so extremely important to all Finns."

Not to be outdone, the Norwegians offer a place to reboot your lymphatic system while soaking up the local arts scene with Salt, a nomadic, 54,000-square-foot installation that is stationed in Oslo through October 2018 (the island of Sandhornøya, located north of the Arctic Circle, was its previous home). The largest of the A-frame buildings, inspired by traditional fish-drying racks and designed by Sami Rintala, holds drop-in hours on the weekend—but if the mere thought of going shirtless beside 99 strangers is enough to make you sweat, you can book a two-hour private session in one of the other smaller sauna spaces. No matter where you sit, you'll enjoy direct views of the city's famed opera house.

And it's not only Scandinavia that has a lock on impressive thermotherapy spaces. Nordik Spa-Nature, just 20 minutes north of Ottawa, Ontario, boasts seven dry saunas, two wet steam saunas, and four cold plunge pools on its sprawling, often snow-covered property.

L\u00f6yly's chic and sustainable wooden slat designLöyly's chic and sustainable wooden slat design

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

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