How to Offer Guests the Ultimate Nature Connection Experience

A woman sitting above a paddle board floating above gentle sea waves of a crystal clear beach


hen it comes to vacationing, the new buzzword is balance — or, as the Swedes say, lagom. Author and travel photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström describes lagom as the “optimal” (not best) solution for maintaining balance and removing stress within your control. Lagom could also be described as a sense of well-being and harmony, within yourself and in your surroundings.

Vacationers might find that harmony in a carefully calibrated balance between lounging on the beach and shopping, between food trucks and four-star dining, or between massages and golf games. In fact, the search for the perfect, elusive blend of luxurious relaxation and active experience has been cited as one of the top trends in travel in 2024. But for those truly seeking inner equanimity and peak wellness, one proven place to find it is the natural world.

The Science Behind Nature’s Stress-Reducing Benefits

People go on vacation for lots of reasons, but one of the biggest is simply the desire to feel better. And the great outdoors can be the key to that quest — multiple studies highlight the power of nature to slow us down and lift our spirits. Time outdoors has been shown to reduce cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”), improve mood, and decrease activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain most closely related to fear and panic. A 2024 study found that people who frequently visited public green spaces — like parks, gardens, and forests — had lower levels of anxiety and depression. And the more connected they felt to nature during these visits, the greater the mental health benefits they experienced.

What makes nature such a powerful stress reducer? As with wellness practices like yoga, the alchemy involves a combination of physiological and psychological factors that work from the “top down” (mind informing body) and the “bottom up” (body informing mind). For example, Japanese researchers theorize that breathing in certain aerosols released by trees elevates our “natural killer cells,” strengthening immunity, which has been linked to stress resilience. Meanwhile, walking through a beautiful natural setting prompts us to pay closer attention to what’s around us — a form of active mindfulness that can reduce stress and anxiety levels. The exact formula may remain mysterious, but what’s clear is that spending time in nature can make us happier and healthier.

The 5 Types of Nature Vacationers

Travelers who want to incorporate a nature connection component into their vacation aren’t necessarily looking for the same things. Everyone has their own way of relating to the natural world, whether it’s a mellow family hike, a view of the ocean from behind an umbrella drink, or a kayaking adventure through alligator-infested waters. Moreover, some tourists may not prioritize outdoor experiences at all. But if they’re packaged in a way that speaks to their vacation goals and they’re willing to give it a try, the built-in benefits will likely take over from there.

Here are five ways humans interact with nature to boost well-being, plus tips for how hotels and resorts can support and enhance those experiences.


Most of us can relate to this one. Simply taking in a scenic vista can feed our senses and calm our minds. The hospitality industry tends to focus on this aspect of nature connection, and you can’t go wrong here. Comfort is critical for Relaxers — super-comfy benches and lounge chairs, blankets or throws available when a cool breeze whips up, perhaps a “free library” of beach (or hammock) reads, and, of course, easy access to a cold drink and a crispy snack.


Explorers want to follow unknown paths and discover unexpected places. Scratching that itch might be as simple as cutting a trail through a small forested area on your property, and having a local landscape artist create a flower-filled courtyard with a water element for wanderers to come upon. Or you could work with a local nature preserve or adventure company to craft a unique off-site experience.


While closely related to Explorers, Interactors want more hands-on experiences with nature or natural materials. Interactive nature offerings might include a flower-arranging workshop, an earth-based pottery class, or a beekeeping and honey-tasting experience like the one offered at Ojai Valley Inn in Ojai, California. This group would also enjoy a special dinner menu culled from local farms and wineries.


Another of nature’s powerful stress-reducing properties is the emotion of awe. Awe — the feeling you have when you gaze at a gold and purple sunset or a rainbow after a storm — can quiet the nervous system and even trigger the release of oxytocin, the “love” hormone. Resorts might support experiences of awe by scheduling sunset or full-moon walks, arranging seating options to frame the most impressive views on site, or spotlighting a special feature of the property, like the iconic many-colored hydrangeas that burst into bloom each spring at the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont.


This group is committed to earth stewardship — actively working to protect the planet through conservation efforts and activism. Even when they’re on vacation, Stewards want to be a force for good in the world. Give them the opportunity to learn about local ecology and participate in inspiring preservation projects. For example, Opal Collection’s Hutchinson Shores Resort and Spa teaches guests about the endangered sea turtles that nest on its beach and invites them to help ensure the safety of the giant mothers and their young each nesting season.

More Ways to Provide a Nature Connection Experience

You don’t need sea turtles or sweeping vistas to incorporate nature-based wellness experiences into your offerings. Here are some ways to provide those experiences by tapping into resources you already have.

Celebrate Local Flora and Fauna

What makes your part of the world special? Whether it’s an annual maple syrup tradition, the flocks of timberdoodles (a.k.a. woodcocks) that mate every spring in your neighborhood, or a unique phenomenon or site — like Ojai’s “pink moment” when the mountains catch fire at sunset, or Ice Glen in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where you can feel cool drafts emerging from the deep rock crevices even in midsummer — make it part of your brand. Spotlight the natural beauty and richness of your region through education, outings, interactive workshops, themed festivals, and seasonal menus (see: maple syrup).

Partner with Nature Organizations

To provide varied experiences for your guests, work with local organizations like nature museums, parks, preserves, conservancies, and farms. For example, the Woodstock Inn & Resort partners with the nearby Billings Farm & Museum, providing free admission to guests so they can roam through the apple orchard and heirloom garden and meet Jersey cows and draft horses. For your Explorers, offer curated adventures through the landscape by working with local companies that provide guided hiking, kayaking, sailing, horseback riding, or biking experiences.

Bring Nature into the Spa

Spa offerings can provide the ideal melding of wellness and nature, by integrating skincare products containing natural, local ingredients. For example, the Opal Spa at the Reefhouse Resort & Marina in Key Largo, Florida, brings the seaside setting into the treatment room via products made with mud, mineral water, algae, plant extracts, and essential oils. Connect with local artisan companies that focus on ingredients grown close to home, and highlight them in your spa offerings and promotion.

Foster the Experience of Connection

As the science shows, the benefits of nature come not just from being in it, but from paying attention to it. To support that, hotels and resorts can offer guided experiences that encourage guests to tune into their natural surroundings. This might take the form of yoga classes on the beach or in the rose garden, meditative hikes, or a beautifully printed map of the grounds or menu of outdoor activities. Consider constructing a hedge labyrinth guests can wander through, or designing magical outdoor seating areas in special spots, with string lights woven through branches or along fences covered with flowering vines.

Walk the Talk

If you’re marketing natural experiences as part of your offerings, be sure to practice what you preach by doing your part to protect the environment. Most people think carefully about where they’ll spend their vacation dollars, and as many as 81 percent of global travelers say that environmentally sustainable practices are important to them. Consider how your property can become more eco-friendly — by investing in green energy, reducing waste, increasing recycling and composting efforts, and limiting the use of plastics (for example, by providing reusable bottles and water sources, or using biodegradable to-go containers and utensils). Ultimately, it’s good for business because it makes your guests and the planet happier.

Need a hand marketing these nature-focused experiences to your guests? Contact our team of marketing strategists and hospitality experts.


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