Spa people

Steve Rudnitsky

President & CEO, Miraval Group

Steve Rudnitsky was named president and CEO of Miraval Group last October, and tasked with leading the global expansion of the brand, which includes the iconic wellness destination Miraval in Tucson, Arizona.

Now, Miraval has made its first big leap: the debut of a Miraval-branded spa at the St Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Orange County, California. The Miraval Life in Balance at Monarch Beach has 24 treatment rooms and 70 signature Miraval therapies, including things like ayurvedic-inspired Shamana-Karma energy rituals and floating meditation.

ESPA, which Miraval investors KSL Capital Partners also owns a stake in, has had a hand in the design and programming.

The St Regis Monarch Beach Resort is owned KSL too, no doubt making the move a no-brainer. But Rudnitsky says Southern California was picked because it has a heavy concentration of existing Miraval customers and destination spa-goers, many of whom are looking for alternatives to Tucson.

The spa is the first step in a major brand expansion for Miraval that will see the it try to replicate the full experience of its wellness destination spa in other locales. “The primary emphasis will be with other destination resorts,” says Rudnitsky. “We know we can easily adapt this experience to the California wine country, the Colorado mountains, parts of New England, Hawaii as well as parts of Florida.”

In the next five years, Rudnitsky is “very confident” there will be up to seven “full-blown” Miraval resorts in North America. “We’ve got a very, very active pipeline for that expansion,” he says.

One location not on that list is the 400-acre (162-hectare) Natirar in New Jersey, which was slated to become a Miraval property back in 2014 (see SB13/4 p38) – before Rudnitsky’s came on board. “It’s a magnificent site, but we’re really focused on resort destinations first and foremost,” he says.

It’s thought the company will seek an alternative location within the New York City catchment.

Full-blown Miraval destination resorts will be augmented with Miraval Life in Balance spas – similar to the Monarch Beach property – located in four-plus star hotels with “owners who understand the value of a Miraval-branded spa.”

While the company has a “pretty big expansion” plan in mind for the Life in Balance spas, Rudnitsky wants to first address the market with destination resorts, and then see what locations make sense for the standalone spa facilities.

Miraval has its eyes set beyond the US: locations in Mexico are on its short-list for development and Rudnitsky is also looking around London. “We’d love to get the product in the UK and really leverage ESPA,” he says. “They add tremendous value to us, given their core competencies in spa design, spa management and their extensive skincare line.”

But, Rudnitsky says, there are so many opportunities in North America – including sites in Mexico and Hawaii – that he wants to get up and running on home ground before crossing the pond.

“We have to be thoughtful about where we locate a property,” he says. “There’s got to be a certain scale and traffic of wellness or luxury spa consumers for us to be interested and roll up our sleeves and say, ‘this makes sense’.”

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