Hyatt Hotels last week expanded its investment in the wellness market by acquiring resort and spa operator Miraval Partners for $215 million. The hotel operator will spend another $160 million expanding Miraval's Tucson, Ariz., property and redeveloping sites in Austin, Texas, (the Travaasa Austin) and Lenox, Mass., (the Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort) under the Miraval badge within the next three years while exploring ways to integrate the spa's branding, services and products into higher-end Hyatt resorts. Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian spoke with senior editor Danny King.
Q: Why is Hyatt making this investment?
A: The whole idea of wellness requires an approach that's different than how hotel companies have looked at it, which has been along the narrow definition of fitness and nutrition. Miraval is so exciting to us because of its holistic approach, with mindfulness at its core. That's what companies want, and that's really where the motivation is on our side. We feel strongly that there's a depth of integrity and experience in the Miraval brand that we cherish. That's why we bought the company.
Q: How does Miraval fit into Hyatt's overall strategy?
A: We've been focused on our purpose as a company to care for people so they can be at their best. That's led us to expand the sense of care to our guest, not in just their hotel stay but in life. As a company, we are really focused on the high-end travelers, and wellness is a key area of focus for those travelers.
Q: Will Hyatt keep the Miraval brand?
A: Our focus is to maintain the identity of the brand and ensure its integrity is maintained. It will be run as a business unit within Hyatt. The growth opportunities are significant and global. There are several new projects. Between Austin, Lenox and Tucson, the pipeline for standalone resorts is quite significant.
Q: How will Hyatt integrate Miraval's branding and services?
A: Miraval's practices are able to be applied in many dimensions that could take hold in many existing [Hyatt] spas. The conversion of some existing resorts [to the Miraval brand] is an obvious one. We can extend programming and the ethos of mindfulness into other programming and practices for our corporate clients whether they're staying with us or not. We believe we can help those companies help their employees to be their best.
Q: Was there anything particular about an experience at Miraval that helped spur you to make this acquisition?
A: When I first visited Miraval Arizona about four or five months ago, I did a floating meditation class. It was really an opportunity to calm the mind. It was very refreshing, and I came out of that experience with a great deal of awareness and focus. That's a far cry from shoving a yoga mat in the closet of a hotel and saying, "Good luck with that."
Q: How will Hyatt help expand the Miraval brand?
A: It's hard to predict. We knew there will be three destination resorts, [since] both Austin and Lenox are on track to open at the beginning of 2019. We're expanding Tucson and will add new villas by the end of this year. There are a number of other projects being actively pursued and evaluated. There's no question this high focus on wellness, which is centered on mindfulness, is significant, and the market is alive and well in many markets, so the expansion opportunities are significant.