Marilyn Monroe inspires upscale spa chain

Publish Date: August 15, 2014


The mom-and-pop nail salons and spas that populate many malls and Main Streets will face stiff competition from a new company that plans thousands of upscale locations around the world in the next 20 years, if not sooner. The burgeoning Marilyn Monroe Spa business will offer landlords a single point of contact for what has, for the most part, has been a straggly, localized business.“This is a major game changer for developers, landlords and managers,” said John Crossman, president of shopping center brokerage firm Crossman & Co. “Those who have been frustrated by dealing with different nail salon owners at every mall will be able to deal with one company for many of its malls.”

This might seem like hype, if it weren’t for the experience and prestige of the new firm’s impressive management team. Al Weiss, former president of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has teamed up with Niki Bryan, whose company previously managed all resort spas at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., to run the company.

Weiss, Bryan and a group of investors have bought the global rights to Marilyn Monroe’s name and image in the spa, health and wellness category. “That’s high-powered leadership and an iconic name,” noted Crossman.

Marilyn Monroe Spas, based in Orlando, Fla., is approaching the beauty and spa business on three fronts. It has already opened five luxury nail salons that offer manicures, pedicures and waxing, with two more under construction. It is building two Glamour Rooms, which will offer luxury nail services plus massages, a hair-styling drybar, hair coloring, makeup and facials. And it is partnering with Hyatt

Hotels for four spas, which will feature all Glamour Room services plus other full service facial, massage and body treatments commonly found at spas and resorts, Weiss said.

But this is just the beginning. Weiss said the goal is to provide “consistent, high-quality performance across a landlord’s whole portfolio around the country.” By year’s end, he expects to open 15 to 20 nail salons. Weiss expects substantial profits from the 300 branded health and beauty products the company will use and sell in its outlets. The products are all natural and the Marilyn Monroe nail polish line meets vegan standards, he added. “My long-term vision is to establish ourselves first as a national brand, where I can foresee hundreds of locations.” said Weiss. “We are also starting to have talks with people overseas, where over time we might even have more stores than in the U.S.” Marilyn Monroe is developing plans to offer franchises.

Building on Weiss’s tenure at Disney, expect entertainment as well, with photos, fun facts and videos of Marilyn Monroe throughout.

Weiss said space requirements are from 1,200 to 2,000 square foot for nail salons and 3,000 to 4,000 square feet for the Glamour Rooms. The spas, which will be located mostly in hotels and resorts, will range from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet. Weiss said the relationship with Hyatt has been great for both parties.

Existing Marilyn Monroe nail salons are located at the Cardiff Towne Center in San Diego; The Shops at Midtown Miami; The Market at Mills Park in Orlando Fla., next to the new Fresh Market; and at Scottsdale Seville and Scottsdale Quarter in Arizona. Two are under construction: Del Mar Highlands Town Center in San Diego and Lakeside in Winter Park, Florida (near the first Trader Joe’s in the Orlando area).

Glamour Rooms are being built in Isleworth Grove in Orlando, Florida and at Sundial, formerly the Shops, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Marilyn Monroe Spas are currently open at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey, Calif. The company is converting spas at the Hyatt on Times Square in New York City and the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort in Hawaii. A new Marilyn Monroe Spa is under construction at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near Orlando. — Beth Karlin 

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