by Michael J. Shapiro | August 30, 2017
Hotel giant Hyatt Corp. will acquire another wellness brand, the company confirmed on Tuesday. Exhale, which offers spa services and fitness classes in 25 locations throughout the U.S. and Caribbean, will be the second brand in Hyatt's nascent wellness lineup, joining the Miraval brand, which was purchased in January

Exhale will operate as a standalone brand within the wellness category and it will continue to be run by Annbeth Eschbach, the company's CEO and founder. Miraval president and CEO Steven Rudnitsky will oversee the Exhale integration.

Rudnitsky, however, is scheduled to step down from his post at the end of September. Hyatt announced last month that a number of Miraval executives would be departing as the brand becomes better integrated into Hyatt's portfolio. Marc Ellin, Hyatt's senior vice president of operations in the Americas, is gradually assuming more responsibilities for Miraval and will take over its leadership when Rudnitsky departs. Hyatt did not confirm whether Eschbach would report directly to Ellin at that time.

"Everything we do is to improve the value proposition for our World of Hyatt community, and that effort has led us to expand in the wellness space," explained Steve Haggerty, above, Hyatt's global head of capital strategy, franchising and select service. "We know our guests demand that and want that at home and when they travel. So our acquisitions of Miraval and Exhale are components of an overall strategy to deliver wellness to our guests and our colleagues. Wellness for us is an integrated strategy, and we believe we can strategically differentiate our company on that dimension."

The move is part of Hyatt's overall strategy to engage with high-end travelers beyond the traditional hotel stay. To that end, Hyatt acquired a significant stake in Oasis Collections early this month, a curated, upscale home rental marketplace. Integrating Miraval into the World of Hyatt loyalty program will happen imminently, according to Hyatt; the company will be working on innovative ways to make both Exhale and Oasis part of that platform, too, allowing members to use points for experiences outside of Hyatt hotel properties. 

Hyatt intends to expand the Exhale brand in freestanding locations, as well as within current and future Hyatt hotels. "We will continue to offer hotel owners multiple solutions for a wellness offering with their respective properties," added Haggerty.

The addition of Exhale to the Hyatt portfolio holds a lot of potential for meeting planners, in terms of offsite activities and spa-related opportunities. "It's still early days," said Haggerty, "and we have nothing to report just yet. But we continue to explore opportunities to leverage new wellness expertise from both Miraval and Exhale to build differentiated offerings and programming across our portfolio."