Vacation at a Whole Foods Spa? Could Happen

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Have you ever had so much fun at Whole Foods that you wished you could spend a whole week there? Well, your dream vacation may soon be possible.

The organic grocery store chain evidently wants to be more than just a chain of organic grocery stores, as it will soon open its first "upscale health resort." Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey told USA Today that the first resort would likely open near Austin, Texas, in the next three years.

USA Today compares the planned resorts to the famous Canyon Ranch chain of health resorts and day spas. But Mackey told the paper that the idea actually began internally after a successful program to improve its employees' eating and lifestyle habits.

While Whole Foods clearly has plenty of expertise when it comes to healthy eating, it seems a bit of a stretch for a grocery chain to make the jump into the world of spas and hospitality. But the company has a built-in advantage in the form of its brand recognition and customer base. Mackey says the resorts will bear the Whole Foods name, which should attract the chain's health-conscious customers.

And those customers tend to be more affluent, which doesn't hurt the resort's prospects. Whole Foods' pricey groceries have earned it the nickname "Whole Paycheck," so anyone who shops there on a regular basis probably has more disposable income than the average American. And that means they're a lot more likely to be able to afford spa weekends and resort stays.

Finally, there is a precedent for food chains getting into the hotel business, though it's probably not an example that Whole Foods is likely to talk about in its promotional materials. Back in 2001, McDonald's decided to try opening a luxury hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, calling it the Golden Arch Hotel. Two locations were built in the country, but the venture failed after a couple of years in operation.

We'll see if the Whole Foods resort has any more luck in the hospitality game.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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Vacation at a Whole Foods Spa? Could Happen

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