He strongly cautions against incorporating a spa trend just because it “happens to be newsworthy for a moment. Guests will be able to tell when it’s gimmicky.” Miraval ensures authenticity by devising treatments that truly harness therapists’ talents. For example, craniosacral therapy was only added because an acupuncturist on staff had vast experience performing the service on dolphins. “She was really passionate and very talented, so we gave it a go,” Marxer says. It’s now among Miraval’s most celebrated offerings.
Preparing the staff for the recent grand opening was no small undertaking. “Six hours of training for each of 30 services for about 70 therapists—it was an enormous task,” Marxer recalls. And for the 10 months leading up to the grand opening, Miraval had no working spa, but rather a makeshift “spa village” set up in a cluster of resort guest rooms. Interestingly, guests “actually didn’t seem to notice, and business didn’t drop at all,” Marxer reports. “That was one of my team’s greatest accomplishments.” The spa had the interior designer in charge of the new facility appoint the temporary spa village in the same aesthetic. “It just got guests excited for us,” Marxer says.
How did Miraval manage to launch a major expansion and renovation during the recession, when many other spas were forced to downsize? Marxer cites positive press attention and diehard guest loyalty. “Editorial stuff has been huge for us,” he says. “We’ve won some prestigious awards [including DAYSPA’s Top Destination Spa of 2011] and we’ve been fortunate to curry favor with Dr. Oz.” Indeed, TV’s pre-eminent wellness magnate often calls upon the spa to divulge tips on wellbeing and demonstrate cutting-edge treatments.
Miraval also has the benefit of having passionate, unwitting advocates dispersed throughout the country. “People tend to have breakthroughs here,” Marxer explains, “and that’s so indelibly stamped into their emotional memories that they come back again and again, then push their companies to host retreats here, or suggest us to friends and family for reunions.” (The flip side of this is, guests tend to grow extremely attached to factors such as their particular therapists, treatment rooms and guest rooms, rendering the accommodation of repeat visitors a bit of a juggling act!)