Mia Kyricos, Hyatt Hotels Corp.

It’s monumental on its own—entering a senior position at a major hotel brand—but even more so entering a newly created one. Mia Kyricos is taking this on, having been named the first-ever SVP, global head of well-being for Hyatt.

With the industry’s focus shifting to wellness initiatives and programs, it comes as no surprise that the brand has built a position solely dedicated to advancing these areas.

“I don’t know of another company in the world of hospitality—or big business at large—that has been willing to create a senior leadership position responsible for the vision of both commercial and workplace wellness,” Kyricos said. “Obviously, there isn’t an existing roadmap for this work, and it’s quite a privilege to be part of a team that values well-being enough to incorporate it into all aspects of the business.”

Previously the president/CEO of Kyricos & Associates LLC—a boutique advisory firm providing guidance to wellness-driven hospitality, tourism and healthy lifestyle companies—Kyricos plans on using her experience to develop Hyatt’s focus on the field, something that brand has already proven to be working toward.

“This is the first time in more than two decades that I haven’t had to chase down the executive team of a company to make the case for well-being. Instead, they found me with a case prepared,” she said.

For Kyricos, it’s much more than just spas, fitness centers or healthy menu options; it’s about incorporating healthy choices and wellness habits into Hyatt’s DNA. Part of this is through creating programs, partnerships and services that focus on not only physical health but also well-being related to emotions, food, sleep and finding a balance between work and play.

“We see wellness as the road—what we do every day to take care of ourselves—and well-being as the destination we hope to reach,” Kyricos said. “Given our purpose—we care for people so they can be their best—we see ourselves as caretakers of well-being.”

Guests are requesting more and more features related to wellness, so much so that Hyatt recently acquired both the Miraval and Exhale brands, furthering its credibility in the wellness space.

“Hyatt’s 2017 acquisitions of Miraval Group and Exhale expanded our offerings that cater to self-improvement and a life in balance,” Kyricos said. “Most importantly, these acquisitions signaled to the world that Hyatt is serious about making wellness and well-being part of our DNA. There has been a great deal of ‘well-washing’ in the marketplace, and our desire was to back up our promises with tangible investments that we could more broadly offer to our guest and customer base.”

For these brands, there are renovations underway of existing resorts and studios, as well as upcoming openings of new Miraval resorts in Austin, TX, by the end of this year, and in Lenox, MA, by Q2 2019.

“Well-being is increasingly on the minds of all consumers no matter where they stay; it’s more about psychographics than demographics. We all can relate to wanting to feel and be our best,” Kyricos said.

Kyricos sees this customer base growing, which is something that hoteliers can benefit from as well.

“The Global Wellness Institute recently reported that the global wellness economy is growing nearly twice as fast as the global economy—this is huge for the industry,” she said. “In addition, wellness travel—or travel associated with enhancing or maintaining personal well-being—is actually a high-yield business. That is, wellness travelers, on average, spend 50-180% more than their average counterparts. So, not only is caring for the wellness of our guests the right thing to do, but it can also be the most economical.”

For Kyricos and Hyatt, the challenge will come with trying to differentiate wellness offerings and extending that through all legs of the brand.

“Our greatest challenge is how broadly we define well-being,” she said. “To us, it’s not about an individual product or service or even facility within our hotels; it’s about the realization of our purpose, which sets the bar higher than most, and it must be incorporated throughout all facets of our business.”

One of the ways Hyatt is doing this is through Global Days of Gratitude, which focuses on mental health and allows guests and employees to send notes to those they’re grateful for. Hyatt has also implemented an initiative with Exhale, helping guests earn and redeem points for prioritizing mind and body wellness practices.

“This truly is an industry-leading step that demonstrates how hospitality, spa and fitness can go hand-in-hand, ultimately making it easier and more rewarding for consumers to care for their well-being every day,” she said.

Kyricos anticipates that positions like hers—ones that encompass all segments of an organization—will spread across not only hospitality, but others as well that are producing wellness-related products and services.

“This holistic approach and the level of priority Hyatt is placing on well-being is a game-changer for hospitality and big business at large,” she said. HB

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