Room to Breathe

In a state where the locals pride themselves on everything being bigger, the new kid on the block fits right in. Last September, Exhale Mind Body Spa added a 10,000-square-foot Dallas location to its already hearty portfolio of properties. While the minds behind Exhale have recognized that their formula for launching spas is successful, they did tweak the winning concept when it came to planning the new addition to the family.

Since 2003, Exhale has extended its lucrative spa concept of merging mind and body wellness across the country with eight properties plus two more in the pipeline—one in South Beach, FL, and the other in the Bahamas. Standing out among its siblings, the Dallas location takes a unique approach to the idea of bringing the spa home.

Set on five acres in the upscale Park Cities neighborhood, the Palomar enclave is a luxury wellness living community that includes the two-story Exhale, the boutique 198-room Hotel Palomar, luxury condominium towers, two restaurants, and an outdoor infinity pool. According to Annbeth Eschbach, founder and CEO of Exhale, Dallas was always slated as a potential development site, but the project really came to fruition when it did because of the Palomar's developer, Realty America Group. "We were attracted to the market [last year] for the unique opportunity to create a new paradigm in the luxury residential market," says Eschbach. "We were very impressed with the developer who saw the large appetite for spa living and wanted Exhale to be a central amenity and key point of differentiation for this multi-use project."

 Exhale is located in the heart of the Palomar development and its presence is felt throughout the property.
Exhale is located in the heart of the Palomar development and its presence is felt throughout the property.

The finished product is a residential concept, which Eschbach describes as "a collection of experiences" developed to inspire homeowners, as well as hotel and spa guests, to incorporate wellness into their daily lives. Exhale is not only located at the heart of the Palomar development, but its presence is also evident throughout the rest of the property. For example, each room at Hotel Palomar has a direct line to the spa concierge, making scheduling appointments that much easier. Also, an entire floor of the hotel is dedicated to Exhale Suites, featuring in-room spa amenities and services, as well as the option of having private fitness training sessions. The spa's influence is also carried through to the restaurants, which offer spa cuisine, and to the pool area, where cabana massages, Watsu, and water yoga take place.



While the Dallas spa is a new concept for the brand, its foundation has stayed true to the Exhale ideal. According to Eschbach, Exhale's concept was inspired by two key factors: "An opportunity to fill a void that had developed in the day spa industry—which at the time [2003] primarily consisted of day spas positioned for beauty and pampering—as well as a demand for a new breed of spa that brings the destination spa experience into the heart of cities to make transformation and healing accessible on a daily basis." When these ideas came together, the Exhale brand was created. "It was birthed to provide an experience where guests can transform and improve their lives under one roof," says Eschbach. "Each new opening gives us the opportunity to improve upon or evolve the environment and materials, but we stay true to our original vision so that the spirit of the brand and positive energy is retained."

The soothing colors and organic elements found in the lounge (just above) and in the pedicure room embrace the Exhale multicultural and modern aesthetic carried throughout the brand’s properties.
The soothing colors and organic elements found in the lounge (just above) and in the pedicure room embrace the Exhale multicultural and modern aesthetic carried throughout the brand’s properties.

Also at the root of the Exhale concept is the brand's aesthetic—one that Eschbach describes as simple, modern, natural, and multiculturally influenced. "Although our spas share a common design, each one has different treasures and unique space properties that allow them to have their own identity within the branded environments," she says. When building each new spa, the company hires a treasure hunter to scour for artifacts from Southeast Asia to meticulously turn each property into a serene utopia. The most notable finds are the 800-pound, 200-year-old doors from an Indonesian temple. "Each door is installed with a huge slider so that it acts as a passageway into the studio where guests can find a new environment and energy that supports the practice of yoga," says Eschbach. "Each of these doors is unique, but they are one of our brand elements and unite our spas from coast to coast in their dedication to creating a healing environment."

The retail boutique offers an assortment of apparel, skincare, and healing products that complement the spa's offerings.
The retail boutique offers an assortment of apparel, skincare, and healing products that complement the spa's offerings.

Since the launch, guests and locals have truly embraced Exhale, and more than 150 memberships have been sold to date. A major draw is the mix of available services, which go beyond the typical beauty and pampering into the arena of overall wellness. "Our guests enjoy having a combination of high-quality healing spa therapies, core fusion, and yoga in one urban spa setting," says Eschbach.

Specifically, guests have embraced the spa's signature Core Fusion. This class brings together the tenets of Pilates, core conditioning, and yoga to create more flexible and toned bodies, in addition to more relaxed and peaceful minds. Although Core Fusion personal training is available, many people opt for the one-hour class, which starts at $20 (student discounts and packages are available). "The quality of the yoga and Core Fusion teachers is excellent and nurturing and the classes produce a healing, soulful environment with a results-oriented mental and physical transformation," says Eschbach. "The feedback has been that it feels like you are getting a personal training session within a classroom situation. People love the results and changes in their bodies. They notice long, lean muscles; toned and lifted gluteals; and a strong core."

Fitness is one of Exhale's pillars and is what rounds out its comprehensive wellness experience.
Fitness is one of Exhale's pillars and is what rounds out its comprehensive wellness experience.

Core Fusion is also a component of Exhale's popular 6-Week Total Transformation Program. In addition to a recommended minimum of three Core Fusion and two yoga classes per week, guests have a weekly session with a wellness coach and dietician to structure their diets, as well as six sessions with an acupuncturist to re-establish the body's energy balance. The standard price for this package is $2,000, which includes unlimited classes for the duration of the program, and may vary based on personalization per client.

An extensive treatment menu centered on healing and transformation is also available. Popular treatments at the Dallas location include the signature Exhale Deep Flow Massage ($130, 60 minutes); the Power Facial ($180, 60 minutes), which includes ultrasonic exfoliation, LED light therapy, and lymphatic drainage; and the Acupuncture Massage ($150, 60 minutes), which incorporates the two healing modalities. A host of alternative therapies, such as Cupping ($100, 30 minutes; $150, 60 minutes), a needle-free alternative to acupuncture, are also available but have proven to be a harder sell. Eschbach welcomes this challenge and says that it can easily be overcome with client education.

The women's changing area offers a steam room and  a full range of amenities.
The women's changing area offers a steam room and a full range of amenities.

Handling an average of 200 guests per day might seem unmanageable, but the 50 Exhale staff members in Dallas—20 full-time and 30 part-time—make this task come across as a smooth operation. The idea of southern comfort came into play when hiring the staff. "We looked for born nurturers who understand Dallas hospitality," says Eschbach. "We knew we needed people with soul and a genuine desire to help others on their journey with personal transformation."

This level of care is why Exhale Dallas has eased right into the spa scene and made an indelible mark after only a few months—so much so that its success is leading to other high-end, wellness lifestyle developments. "We are aggressively being pursued by developers and landlords in the luxury residential living/hotel space categories that recognize the significant economic benefits of working with a spa brand and creating a healthy living environment," says Eschbach. "We have an almost overwhelming number of proposals to partner in multi-use urban developments by providing quality spa, well-being, and fitness programming, as well as the expertise, brand, and management team necessary to execute this vision."



As the brand continues to grow and evolve, Eschbach feels that her obstacles remain the same. "Amid the day-to-day trials and tribulations, ensuring that each and every guest's experience is the best that it possibly can be is my biggest challenge," she says. From the success of the Dallas property, the continued triumphs of the existing properties, and the handful of new properties in the works (with plans to grow to 20 locations in the next five years), it sounds like Eschbach is successfully doing just that and is entitled to sit back and breathe a sigh of relief.

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