Hyatt Acquires Wellness Brand Exhale

CHICAGO—In its second major move this year into the wellness space, Hyatt Hotels Corp. has acquired Exhale, a 15-year-old branded concept that “addresses mind and body through spa and fitness,” with intentions to grow the brand via freestanding locations and within appropriate Hyatt Hotel product.

The acquisition price was not disclosed.

Earlier this year, Hyatt acquired New York-based Miraval Group, a provider of wellness experiences, from an affiliate of private equity firm KSL Capital Partners LLC in a $215-million deal.

“As a company, we have made a strategic decision to move into the area of wellness to serve our customer base as a strategic matter,” Steve Haggerty, Hyatt’s global head of capital strategy, franchising and select service, told Hotel Business. “Miraval is a component of that and separately, Exhale is a component of that as opposed to Exhale being some Miraval type of strategy.”

Annbeth Eschbach, Exhale’s founder/CEO, characterized her company as an “everyday, urban experience” compared to Miraval, which she described as “a well-being destination spa,” noting Exhale had interactions with the company prior to its January acquisition by Hyatt.

“And when I heard the news about Hyatt acquiring Miraval, I reached out and said: ‘That’s amazing. That’s exactly what this world needs.’ Then I started learning more about Hyatt and [its]amazing culture and vision for expanding experiences in adjacent spaces outside the bricks and mortar of the hotel and I got very excited because that’s the kind of thing we signed on for,” said Eschbach. “Exhale is very much a pioneering brand and we’ve always transcended the narrowly defined spa and fitness space; we’ve always done our own thing, whether it’s on ships or in hotels or resorts or freestanding. I thought: ‘This is an exciting vision that Hyatt has,’ and we carried it from there [as]Hyatt began to see Exhale as an opportunity and as a brand that could be leveraged into adjacent spaces.”

Exhale currently has 25 locations in the United States and the Caribbean, largely concentrated in urban locations, including inside upper-upscale and luxury hotels. For example, it has facilities inside Loews Hotels in Atlanta and Miami Beach; The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour and the Kimpton EPIC Downtown Miami; the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, CA; two Gansevoort Hotel locations in New York City as well as its property in Turks & Caicos; and the Boston Battery Wharf Hotel in Massachusetts.

The company offers a variety of services, including fitness classes incorporating cardio and yoga; spa treatments such as massage, facials and nail care; private training, barre and core fusion sessions; nutrition counseling; group options, including brides and teens; and retreats.

Haggerty emphasized, “Everything we do is to improve the value proposition for the [customer-loyalty program] World of Hyatt community and that effort has led us to expanding in the wellness space to those customers who we know demand that and want that. Miraval was an example of that; Exhale is another example of that. And there will be more. Wellness for us is an integrated strategy, and we’re not pointing to one particular opportunity and saying that we’re checking the box.”

(For more on the Hyatt/Exhale deal, check the Sept. 7, 2017 issue of Hotel Business.)