Hyatt’s Simon Marxer on changing consumer expectations, technology & guest experience

Simon Marxer

Hyatt’s Vice President Spa & Wellbeing, Simon Marxer, talk about his career trajectory, his job, and changing consumer expectations. 

Simon Marxer was recently promoted to Vice President Spa & Wellbeing at Hyatt and Miraval Resorts after more than two decades in the spa and hospitality industry and several with the Miraval and Hyatt brands. 

A respected industry leader, Mr. Marxer supports 60 spas in the Americas for Hyatt and three Miraval destination spas. He also leads wellbeing operations initiatives at Hyatt in the Americas, “So, it fills my days and is a lot of fun,” he says. 

Mr. Marxer’s career started at “the lowest of levels,” he tells Spa Executive, with a summer job at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires working as a spa rover.  “This is a notch below locker room attendant,” he explains. “You just pick up the dirty towels.” He later became a locker room attendant, then worked his way up to working with guests and scheduling appointments, and then eventually to assistant director and spa director. He joined Miraval in 2007, leaving briefly and then returning before Hyatt purchased the world-renowned wellness destination brand. 

Mr. Marxer says, “I think the experience of working in many different capacities has provided me with a full appreciation for the contributions of all the people that create an environment for our guests. In the field of wellness or wellbeing, we rely heavily on the experience. When people come and are seeking some nurturing and renewal the environment that provides this is made up of the hard work of a lot of individuals in a lot of different capacities, no one more important than another. Having played roles from the whole column of responsibilities has afforded me a level of appreciation for all the contributions that go into creating that kind of macro experience.” 

We spoke with Simon Marxer about changing consumer expectations, technology, and guest experience. 

Do Hyatt and Miraval have an overarching wellness philosophy and how does that relate to the business? 

I would say not that the philosophy of Miraval would be necessarily divergent from that of Hyatt, but Miraval has had a long and storied approach to wellness, while I see Hyatt’s interest in wellbeing as an extension of their purpose of care. For Miraval there’s a variety of intentions, but it’s really about helping people create a life in balance and that means different things to different people. As for how that relates to business, it represents a more challenging way to meet the needs of our clients because it responds to them as individuals, and those needs are individual. 

A prescriptive approach has never been what we have been about. I believe what has differentiated Miraval and will differentiate Hyatt as its wellbeing programming evolves is that we treat people as individuals and take a personal approach to meeting the needs of our customers and clients because wellbeing is personal. 

Do you find that consumer expectations have recently changed?  

Yes. Things have changed dramatically. One of the things the pandemic did is create a period of forced reflection. As a result, people have begun to prioritize things in which they have found deeper meaning, and self-care and wellbeing have come to the forefront. What Hyatt has astutely done is extend their intention to care for people by expanding our offerings and our focus on wellbeing. 

Miraval is well positioned to provide an experience that helps people explore and inspires their wellbeing intention beyond the walls of Miraval. There really are very few places for people to learn about ways to support their wellbeing, experience those different dimensions of wellbeing, and then be inspired to carry their pursuit of wellbeing forward. In the Miraval settings, we provide a place to discover and explore what will support your wellbeing and inspire a continued pursuit of that. 

The shift has amplified the intentions. So, we’re seeing a lot of different types of folks than we’re used to seeing — more couples and younger people, for example. It’s really broadened the market. 

Have you found yourself relying more on technology lately? 

Absolutely. As the world has changed and our consumers have changed, so have their expectations for technology and convenience. One of the greatest changes is the volume of online booking and the platforms that have afforded us those opportunities becoming instrumental in the growth of our business with efforts to truly understand both the needs of the consumer and the needs of the operator. 

What makes an excellent guest experience? 

I think that’s really individual. One of the things that I have learned about creating guest experiences is that a great guest experience is often about discovery. In a Miraval setting, when we talk about it internally we talk about ensuring that we not only offer what guests want, but also what they need. Oftentimes the initial intention of a guest is what they want, and then they discover that they actually need something quite different. It’s really supporting that guest through their journey and helping them discover what they truly need, beyond what they may think they want. 

Some Hyatt spas are launching membership programs. Can you talk about the benefits of these? 

One of the things that’s important about members and cultivating their business is they help increase occupancy during lower demand or lower utilization hours. When we think about how a member uses our facility, it can be the sort of opposite of our customers who tend to come later in the day and are interested in treatments in the evening. A member helps fill the lower utilization hours during the day. They also provide both a revenue stream and a method of local advertising and word of mouth promotion that is terribly important for cultivating local business. Running a successful spa is about having a number of layers. Local business is important to strengthening your year-round business volumes. The local consumer doesn’t just come once, they come, ideally, on a regular basis. So, cultivating that business is terribly important for sustaining traffic and sustaining the people who are providing those services and depending on us to keep the traffic flowing. 

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

I’ll say two things. One is that there are hard parts of every job, but when, at the end of the day you know that what you’re working for is going to result in at least one individual out there being positively influenced, it makes your days worthwhile. I believe that when we positively impact a single individual, others are impacted by proximity, and it’s a way to help create the world that I hope to see. That is the best part of my job. 

And then, in terms of the day-to-day, I also love the fact that I have an opportunity to help potentiate the success of, of others. When the success of the individual is aligned with the success of the enterprise, we just have magic. When people find their sense of purpose supported, that is something that energizes me and inspires me to continue to push forward and grow as a professional myself. 

Anything exciting happening at Miraval and Hyatt that you want to talk about? 

There is a Miraval Life in Balance spa that will be opening this spring at the park Hyatt Aviara. We’re very excited about that. It will be a compliment to an already exquisite property. 


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