As hotel companies become more serious about wellness beyond spa offerings and healthy menus, many are creating new positions for executives specializing in the field.

Hyatt is one of the pioneers and in August brought onboard Mia Kyricos, who joined as its first senior vice president, global head of well-being, responsible for developing strategies for guest and employee well-being.

Before joining Hyatt, she headed up Kyricos & Associates LLC, which provided guidance to wellness-driven hospitality, tourism, and lifestyle companies. Prior to that, she was chief brand officer at Spafinder Wellness, Inc., and worked with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, where she developed international spa brands and signature wellness experiences.

Skift recently sat down with Kyricos to discuss Hyatt’s vision for wellness.

Skift: Wellness is clearly on Hyatt’s mind, with the recent acquisitions of Exhale and Miraval. Tell us a bit about Hyatt’s approach to wellness.

Kyricos:  What I am excited about is the way Hyatt is looking at making well-being part of company DNA. It’s not just about branded services and products and spas, but about caring about people at a higher, macro level. That’s such a unique approach and I find it’s really notable.

Some companies are hiring leaders to head spa and wellness, or maybe they are paying more attention to fitness, food and physical environment. But I had never seen anyone contemplate putting the health and wellness of both guests and colleagues under one position.

Wellness is what we do every day to take care of ourselves It’s the path to well-being, which is the destination, the outcome we are trying to achieve. Hyatt is ultimately looking at well-being in relationship to the very purpose of the company, which is caring for people so they can be their best.

Everyone from the board of directors to the Pritzkers to CEO Mark Hoplamazian believed that if Hyatt was going to realize this purpose of care, it needed a single leader to champion this vision for the external marketplace and internally, within the organization.

Skift: Since you came on board, what have been your priorities?

Kyricos: This is a newly-created role, so we are doing a lot of foundational work this year, to position wellness at the highest level. What does wellness and well-being mean across the brand? How do we positively impact well-being?

We are focusing on the landmarks of well-being – how guests, colleagues and customers feel, fuel and function. Feel encompasses mental and emotional health. Fuel includes food and powering your body through sleep. Function is how you physically move, how you function in work, life and play. We are defining this common language around which to map products and services.

Skift: What seems unique about Hyatt’s position is the focus on employee wellness.

Kyricos: We are looking at how we foster the culture of care and well-being in the workplace. It’s how we work together, how we treat each other. How do we make the environment more comfortable for employees and take care that they prioritize self-care?

For example, we are piloting various platforms, including software to track well-being. We are testing it with 10,000 employees. Based on their feedback, we will consider the next step. We are also working with experts in workplace well-being.

In terms of the “feel” landmark I mentioned, we are looking at things we can move the needle on every day, like positivity and gratitude. To help bring this to life, Hyatt’s first global day of gratitude was December 12. The purpose of it was to embrace what we believe and science tells us impacts well-being.

This is the kind of thing we want to do more of…things that will stop people in their tracks and getting them thinking about it.

Skift: Discuss how Miraval and Exhale will be incorporated into the Hyatt brand.

Kyricos: It’s a rare day when a hospitality company makes an acquisition at the scale of Exhale and Miraval. We are signaling to the world that we are serious by buying best-in-class brands as a way to deliver wellness. The Miraval brand is about mindfulness getaways, while Exhale is more accessible wellness every day.

Hyatt is planning to grow these brands and leverage their intellectual property to develop other products and services. For example, we have had Exhale people participate in legal team meetings to help them be more mindful. We can bring items like Exhale sleep patches and fitness kits into rooms.

[In terms of branding new Hyatt spas,] we will do this on a case-by-case basis, branding a spa with Miraval or Exhale where it makes sense. Other spas will be branded by location. But there are no plans to align either Miraval or Exhale solely with one hotel brand.

Skift: You talk about colleagues, guests and customers. Many of those customers are meeting attendees. How does wellness fit into that aspect of Hyatt’s business?

Kyricos: We are looking at how we can do in things in meetings to ensure they are more productive and more enjoyable. After all, meetings are freakin’ exhausting. We want to focus on mindfulness, identifying principles to use internally and externally.

There are a lot of things we can do to impact the outcomes, from the food offered during breaks to the physical design of the meeting space to offering programming for non-food-related breaks to scents. As we contemplate the overall strategy, we are looking at how we can touch all the senses in ways that are evidence-based.

Photo Credit: The Exhale Spa on Turks and Caicos. Hyatt has recently hired a new senior vice president, global head of well-being. Exhale Spa