The wellness tourism market is forecast to achieve a compound annual growth rate of nearly 7% between 2020 and 2025, reaching USD1.1 billion in revenues by 2025, according an EMR Report. Alta Capital Real Estate recently launched The Alta Hospitality Fund Asia, which will invest in real estate assets to capture a growing consumer demand in undervalued sustainability and wellness across the Asia Pacific. Alta is managed by Rakesh Patel, an experienced real estate investor and formerly HSBC’s Head of Equities for Asia-Pacific, with a deep-rooted passion for wellness and an eye for the evergrowing wellness tourism market. Compare Retreats speaks to Rakesh on his personal and professional journey which led him to start Alta Capital Real Estate and Alta Hospitality Fund Asia, and what to expect in the post-COVID wellness industry.
Can you tell us about your life before you founded Alta Capital Real Estate? I had a 29-year career in investment banking based in London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. My most recent roles at HSBC were managing regional and global businesses. Alongside this, I built a real estate portfolio with properties across Asia and Europe delivering 32% IRR.
Why did you decide to launch Alta Hospitality Fund Asia? After I left banking, I wanted to redefine my purpose. My ambition was to align my experience in real estate and finance with my family’s long-standing passion for wellness and sustainability.
What are your top wellness habits on a day-to-day basis? My day starts very differently now. As a banker, the first thing I used to do every morning was to check the financial news from the night before any emails on my Blackberry. Now, the first thing I do every day is meditate! I also do yoga and work-out regularly. I have always been careful on my diet and even more so now—I try to keep everything balanced and in moderation.
Can you tell us about your wellness journey and how it brought you to where you are now? My wellness philosophy today is very much shaped by a natural alternative treatment, called the Gerson therapy, which I experienced as a teenager. After two years of this intensive treatment, I was cured of an “incurable” illness. This experience drives a lot of my holistic beliefs today.
Your mother was a yoga instructor in the 1970s for BBC and your brother has a yoga company in London. Can you tell us how this influenced your journey to wellness when growing up? My mother has been a huge wellness inspiration for our entire lives. She raised us in a household with yoga, wellness, and an organic, balanced diet. My brother carried this philosophy forward into his life and career, and I have always adhered to those principles throughout my life.
Why did you choose to launch Alta Hospitality Fund Asia now? What is the current forecast for the hospitality and wellness industry? There are two parts to our strategy at the fund. We are acquiring undervalued assets and we feel it is the right time in the cycle to do this. Secondly, we are repositioning those assets for wellness. Most forecasts put the growth of wellness travel at 5-10% per annum, with faster growth in Asia. We feel the growth in wellness will accelerate post-Covid as people search for ways to build their physical and mental reliance.
What are some consumer wellness trends to look out for? The combination of modern medical technology with traditional treatments is a trend we feel will grow from here. There is an appeal here to the emerging wellness demographic.
What are the opportunities for growth in the sustainable and wellness hospitality industry across Asia-Pacific? The search for sustainable and green accommodation is increasing as travellers’ awareness of their impact becomes more prevalent. Alta will ensure that all our properties are sustainable and certified by third parties.
When was your first healthy holiday? During my illness as a teenager, my mother took me to a natural treatment centre in Bangalore, India. It was very rustic and traditional and opened my eyes for the first time to natural healing.
Who do you look up to in the wellness industry? I look up to my family. My mother is my absolute inspiration for wellness. Her vision, wisdom (and toughness!) put me on the Gerson therapy path as a teenager. Without this guidance, I would not be well and would not be the person I am today. I look to my brother for teaching us that you can live with cancer for 25 years by eating well, having the mental strength and living a well and yogic life. And, of course, I look to my father for his heart and strength to support us all in this journey.