Steve Rudnitsky
Steve Rudnitsky

Miraval Group, which operates Tucson, Ariz.'s Miraval Resort, will debut its Miraval Life in Balance Spa at Southern California's St. Regis Monarch Beach in April. The company is looking to expand its full-service spa concept by adding its own resorts and taking over spa operations at other four- and five-star hotels. Steve Rudnitsky, a former Dolce Hotels & Resorts CEO who also worked with the Wyndham Hotel Group, joined Miraval as CEO last year. He spoke with hotels editor Danny King.

Q: How are you looking to expand Miraval beyond Tucson?

A: The expansion plan has two channels. There's the full-immersion one similar to Tucson, which has all the desert has to offer. That would work in wine countries, mountain regions and in the Southwest. The second channel is the Life and Balance Spas, where we'd bring Miraval's experience and existing footprint to resorts like the Monarch Beach property.

Q: How many spas are you looking to open?

A: It's hard to put a number on it. We've already got a pretty solid pipeline of owners and operators in North America actively talking to us about rebranding their spas as Miraval Life and Balance Spas. Whether that number is 20 or 40 spas is to be determined. We don't want to oversaturate. For destination resorts, we're gong to be pretty selective. The high single digits is a reasonable number. In Tucson, we've got 118 keys and 10 villas on 400 acres of land. We don't expect to find too many places with 400 acres.

Q: Why do you think higher-end resorts will be willing to give up both control and a revenue stream by outsourcing their spa operations?

The spa department's revenue and margins for the four- and five-star properties are typically a challenge more often than not. The reason why we're launching these new channels of business is because we're experts at the business. We drive higher margins and RevPOR [revenue per operating room], and there's brand recognition to consumers who already know Miraval. We also have a chance to drive ancillary revenue to these properties through day spa traffic.

Q: How does Miraval differentiate itself from other spa offerings found at resorts?

A: We firmly subscribe to the notion that life is more meaningful when our physical, social, emotional and spiritual components are in balance, and our service standards revolve around that. Before our guests get on the property, we've already discussed a whole host of programs they can have. It's very much an immersion, with everything from an authentic environment to spa treatments that are innovative to healthful cuisine. We also believe that by redesigning the Monarch Beach spa the way we have, we create that level of serenity.

Q: Why did you join Miraval?

A: I was drawn to the opportunity because of the brand recognition. When you combine that with the backing and support with KSL Capital (one of Miraval's parent companies), which I've known for many years, I thought it was a great opportunity to wrap my mind around. It also includes the Espa International (spa-treatment consumer products) business, so I get to be a part of this international portfolio of spa products and services in an industry that I've been in for 12 years. When you roll all that together, it's a natural fit and a lot of fun.

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