Global head of Miraval unveils plans for growth

by Jane Kitchen | 02 Mar 2018

Hyatt has plans to grow both Miraval and Exhale following its recent acquisition of the two wellness brands, with the hospitality giant investing another US$100m (€81.4m, £72.5m) in Miraval by the end of this year, according to Marc Ellin, global head of Miraval Group.

Hyatt acquired Miraval in January 2017 for US$215m (€201m, £175m), and the investment is already paying off, said Ellin, speaking at the World Spa and Wellness Convention in London.

According to Ellin, last year, Miraval Arizona’s RevPAR grew 20.4 per cent, he said, while its daily average rate increased by 15 per cent and occupancy grew by another 6 per cent.

Ellin outlined Hyatt’s commitment to preserving the sanctity of the Miraval brand, while at the same time finding ways to expand its reach to Hyatt’s global customer base.

“As a global leader in wellness resorts and spas, we observed that Miraval understood that wellness is a mindset, not a commodity to be thrust upon consumers, which is a distinction that underscores our wellness strategy moving forward,” he said. “Miraval is truly an integrative and authentic approach to wellness and wellbeing – an approach that we, over time, think will go over the broad mention of Hyatt in general.”

Hyatt acquired Exhale – which offers cardio, barre and yoga classes along with a spa – in August 2017 for an undisclosed amount. Exhale currently has 24 locations, with a large portion concentrated across the Eastern seaboard of the US, and Ellin said the brand was a “natural fit to complement the offerings of Miraval, and over time, to expand its reach into locations at certain Hyatt properties, which will expand Exhale’s reach materially”.

Historically, Ellin said, the hospitality industry has interpreted wellness as having a well-equipped gym or healthy menu options, but Hyatt wanted to bring a more holistic, impactful approach to wellbeing to its guests. In order to do that, Hyatt looked beyond traditional segments of hospitality, moving into what he termed “adjacent spaces” to Miraval and Exhale in order to give guests more options.

“The decision to acquire both brands was motivated by our desire to focus on wellness and wellbeing in a way that the hospitality industry had not done before in a material way,” Ellin explained. “We thought it made perfect sense, considering Hyatt’s global footprint, development and structure.”

Hyatt conducted a consumer study in conjunction with The Boston Consulting Group that found consumer interest in mindfulness and wellness is high – 72 per cent of respondents saw mindfulness as being important to overall wellness, 65 per cent were open to meditation, and 41 per cent were looking for new wellness options.

“We didn’t acquire these brands just to end up with more resorts or more spas – we did it for a material kind of growth and to deepen our relationships with our guests, and to increase our involvement in our customers’ lives,” explained Ellin.

Ellin said the company is discussing how to incorporate Miraval teachings or practices into each of Hyatt’s 13 brands, and whether that differs by brand. Things like Mindful Meetings or Conscious Cooking might be brought into various properties, while Miraval Life in Balance Spas are being considered for several urban Hyatt locations, and Miraval’s Floating Meditation programme will be trialled in Exhale locations, but Ellin said he wants to be mindful of not diluting the Miraval brand.

“It’s very very special, and that’s why you’re not going to see a Miraval Resort, or for that matter a Life in Balance Spa in every Hyatt,” he explained.

The biggest opportunity, Ellin said, is exposing the World of Hyatt loyalty programme guests to Miraval programming through downloads and apps, and from allowing those guests to redeem their points at Miraval.

“We hope over time that 12-15 per cent of our business at Miraval will come from our Hyatt Point guests,” said Ellin.

Exhale will be maintained as a standalone business, but Exhale studios will also be brought into Hyatt hotels where it makes sense, said Ellin.

“Exhale really does have more legs to be integrated into Hyatt than Miraval does for the obvious reason: studios are small – between 2,500 and 4,000sq ft – while a Miraval Resort takes hundreds and hundreds of acres,” said Ellin. “We’ve put dots in the map all over the United States for the opportunity to grow Exhale. We are going lightspeed.”

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