Beth Karlin / Shopping Centers Today – The mom-and-pop nail salons and spas that populate many malls and retail streets will be facing stiff competition from Marilyn Monroe Spa, which is planning on opening thousands of units around the world over the next 20 years. Marilyn Monroe can offer landlords a single point of contact for what has typically been a scattered business.
“This is a major game changer for developers, landlords and managers,” said John Crossman, president of shopping center brokerage 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, except for the collective experience and prestige of the company’s management team. Al Weiss, former president of worldwide operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, is joining up with Niki Bryan, whose company had managed all the resort spas at Disney World, in Orlando, Fla., to run the company. They and a group of investors have bought the global rights to the Marilyn Monroe name and image in the spa, health and wellness category. “That’s high-powered leadership and an iconic name,” said Crossman.
Marilyn Monroe Spas, based in -Orlando, is approaching the beauty and spa business on three fronts. The company has already opened six luxury Marilyn Monroe Nail Salon units, with two more under construction. It is also building two Marilyn Monroe Glamour Room units in Florida — at Grove at Isleworth, in Orlando; and at Sundial, in St. Petersburg — which will offer luxury nail services plus massage, hair coloring, makeup, facials and more. And the company is teaming up with Hyatt Hotels for four spas that will feature all the Glamour Room services plus other facial, massage and body treatments.
But this is just the beginning. Weiss says the goal is to provide “consistent, high-quality performance across a landlord’s whole portfolio around the country.”
Consultant Jeff Green, who owns an eponymous firm in Phoenix, likes all this. “It is great to hear that someone is trying to upmarket the nail business,” he said. “It has been such a fractured retail category. The quality, consistency, hygiene and real estate convenience have never been very good.” He says he wonders, though, whether the chain could ever grow large enough to offset the costs of the licensing and construction of the luxury facilities.
Weiss is confident that the potential is great. And he is expecting substantial profits from the 300 branded health-and-beauty products the company will be both using and selling. The products are all-natural, and the Marilyn Monroe nail polish line even meets vegan standards, he boasts. “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 also developing plans to offer franchises.
The market is certainly huge. Some 1.3 million hair and nail businesses racked in roughly $50 billion in the preceding year, according to a March report from consulting firm IBIS World, up 2.6 percent from the year before, and that number does not include spas.
In so many ways the Marilyn Monroe salons are a far cry from the stores most women — and metrosexuals — are familiar with. The Monroe shops are bright spaces and feature the latest, most comfortable fixtures and hygienic techniques. Customers in the nail lounge will pay slightly more than the industry average for a manicure and pedicure combo, Weiss concedes. In return, though, Marilyn Monroe promises high standards, he insists.
Each customer may keep the implements used during the procedure, for hygienic reasons. The company is set to launch a new benefit for regular customers: a loyalty rewards program it calls Mad About Marilyn.
Existing Marilyn Monroe Nail Salon units are at the Cardiff Towne Center, in San Diego; The Market at Mills Park, in Orlando; Scottsdale Seville and Scottsdale Quarter, in Arizona; and The Shops at Midtown Miami. Two are under construction — at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, in San Diego; and at in Winter Park (Fla.). A Marilyn Monroe Spa is open at the Hyatt Regency, in Monterey, Calif., and the company is converting spas at Hyatt Times Square and Hyatt Regency Maui, in Hawaii. A spa is under construction at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando.
Given Weiss’ Disney background, perhaps entertainment features such as loads of photos and videos of Marilyn Monroe all throughout the facilities should be no surprise. Space requirements are between 1,200 and 2,000 square feet for the nail shops and between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet for the Glamour Room units. The spas, which will be located mostly in hotels and resorts, will measure between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet. Weiss crows that the relationship with Hyatt has been great for both parties.
Hyatt officials second that. “Marilyn, as a person, is almost synonymous with New York City, and her fun-and-flirty vibe fits well with our new, trendy Times Square hotel,” said Ryan Fender, director of rooms at New York City’s Hyatt Times Square. “Our restaurant is fun, and our bar is sexy and classy, so it complements the product mix to have Marilyn represented here.”