Andrew Cohan: “Hyatt’s Acquisition of Miraval is More Than Incremental”
By Andrew Cohan on January 20, 2017
Hyatt’s Acquisition of Miraval has the potential to mark a “tipping point” for both the destination spa sector and the ever-expanding definition of hospitality brands. The press release announcing the acquisition quotes several key pieces of data from research conducted by the Global Wellness Institute, an industry think tank, regarding the size of the wellness travel market and its integration in all key segments of travelers: leisure, corporate, and group and meeting.
Specific to the destination spa market, integration with a major hospitality brand may be the impetus that has been missing in recent years to speed growth of the sector. That is, despite new sources of capital from major investment funds having being infused into destination spa brands such as Miraval, Canyon Ranch, Banyan Tree and Six Senses, these leading and well respected brands have not opened more than one or two wellness destination resorts per year. One must assume that Hyatt has a much more effective opportunity screening, development, and pre-opening process than the best destinations spa brands, simply because it is exercised several dozen times per year within the company’s upper-upscale and luxury brands.
And, of course, the opportunity is greater than just expanding distribution of destination spas. If the acquisition is leveraged so that Miraval becomes the wellness and mindfulness “center of excellence” within Hyatt, the impact on Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Andaz and Unbound Collection properties can be significant. These brands’ properties have evolved from hotels with fitness rooms to hotels with gym and spa facilities, and now to hotels and resorts with industry-leading wellness programming.
Taking the potential implications even further, Hyatt noted in the press release that impacts will be felt in programming beyond the hotel. Given the frequency and scale of travel and transportation industry disruption in recent years, this acquisition can assist Hyatt in what is shaping up to be a fundamental transformation for global hospitality brands, leaving a past in which they were managers of hotel real estate with hospitality service skills, to a future in which they will be companies that offer branded travel experiences with a network of outlets, products and services, ever attempting to increase their involvement in the lives of their customers.