BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

A getaway to an exotic location is an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. However, booking a vacation every time a stressful moments presents itself would break the bank. One of the many upsides of living in the digital age is the fact that innovation is the norm. That’s where The Wend Virtual Relaxation experience comes in – a concept that marries spa days and travel with the click of a button. 

THE CONCEPT
Founded by mom-of-three Melloney Rijnvis, this invention enhances a spa visit with realistic audio and immersive visuals. The idea came about because of Melloney’s own ineffective spa ex-perience. “During a visit to a spa for a much-needed relaxation treatment, I found myself staring at floor tiles,”  she explains. “Due to the lack of visual stimulation, my mind was soon racing with my ‘to-do’ list, stresses and every-thing negative I could think about.” An impulsive chat with her husband and 10 short months later, The Wend became a reality. “With a one-of-a-kind app boasting new technology, a professional 180/360° video pro-duction studio, a comfortable office and strong team, I couldn’t be prouder of how far we have come in such a short time.”

HOW IT WORKS
The Wend functions through a virtual reality headset, like the Oculus Rift, which interacts with a tablet. Operated by a therapist, guests can choose from a selection of virtual relaxation videos to complement their treatment, then simply put the headphones on to enjoy the experience. The spa offers a range of videos available to their clients yet the library is ever-growing. 

VIRTUAL GETAWAY 
Guests are transported to destinations including Cape Town, London and Mallorca — going as far as to the North-ern Lights and even swimming with dolphins. Users can personalise their sessions with specific relaxation settings such as waterfalls and beaches. According to Melloney, The Wend is not designed to compete with trad-itional spa experiences but rather to enhance it. “There is no substitute for human touch and interaction is crucial to the success of the spa industry. Knowing this, we have developed The Wend experience accordingly.”

EMBRACING THE DIGITAL AGE 
The Wend was designed to com-plement the fast-paced, tech-heavy lifestyles of Millennials and Gen-eration Z. “Life is far more stressful for the Millennials and GenZ than it ever was for the previous generation,” she reflects. “They are not fearful of tech-nology. Instead, they embrace it and see technology as a necessity. They are attracted to the latest trends and quick fixes, which makes the possi-bility of a quick escape during their lunch break a truly ingenious creation.”

BENEFITS
The tangible benefits of deep virtual relaxation sessions? Better sleeping patterns, increased mental health, improved concentration levels and effective de-stressing techniques. It also helps people navigate through tough life situations. 

WAY FORWARD
Based on intensive research, the team at The Wend identified South Africans as being a “spa-loving nation”. The technology has already had a success-ful trial period at Camelot Spa, and the Armani Spa and Sorbet Group are prospective clients too. The Wend is also looking to have a presence at smaller, independently-owned spas. On the next steps, Melloney says: “We would love to introduce The Wend to places where it can have a healing effect. We have identified oncology and rehabilitation centres as our next target market.”