From eco-friendly hair salons to environmentally-conscious beauty bloggers such as The Hermes Hippie and No More Dirty Looks, going green is most definitely in. But no matter your good intentions, it can still take a little bit effort to ensure that your beauty regime is truly eco-friendly – and this is especially tough when all you want to do is switch off, lay back and unwind. Fortunately, the spa industry is rising to the challenge. In 2006, twelve spas came together to establish the Green Spa Network and in the ten years since, it has grown to include over 750 spas. A source of expertise, support and encouragement, the network’s founders have always insisted that becoming a green spa is an ever-ongoing process, not a fixed destination.
Among its members you can find The Kura Door Spa (Utah), where only 100% natural and organic ingredients are used in all spa treatments; The Strong House Spa (Vermont) which has received awards from the state of Vermont for its eco-friendly policies; and environmental leader Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa (Michigan), which runs an innovative recycling programme.
More than marketing
The decision to go green requires upfront investment and a complete turnaround of the working culture. But for some spas, the question is never even raised. Osmosis Sanctuary Spa in California was founded by Michael Stusser who believed strongly that there is a “deep connection between personal health and planetary sustainability.” Michael reclaimed the land where Osmosis now stands from a junkyard and has worked exceptionally hard to minimize energy use and conserve water. Even the spa’s signature treatment is 100% natural: The Cedar Enzyme Bath was inspired by Michael’s visit to Japan and brings together a soft, sweet-smelling mix of fermenting ground cedar, rice bran and enzymes in which the body is completely submerged. Cleansing and exfoliating, visitors exit the bath glowing, but the benefits are more than skin-deep. The cedar oil also stimulates the limbic system, leaving you radiating wellbeing.
Best in class
Few spas, however, have reached the dizzying environmental heights of Bardessono Spa in the Napa Valley. From the solar panels discreetly tucked away on the flat roofs, to the use of smart sensors to minimize energy use, it shines green at every turn. What’s more, with a philosophy based on the seasons, Bardessono’s treatments, catering and accommodation are all fully in sync with nature.
The two organic kitchen gardens on-site inspire the menus in Lucy’s Restaurant. “Always in season, Lucy’s dishes including farm fresh salads and garden-inspired cocktails use ingredients picked daily.” Likewise, the traditional Bardessono massage varies throughout the year, spa manager Sandra Grignon reveals to FAB Beauty: “It uses a customized, seasonal blend of organic oils to suit a range of needs from stress reduction and relaxation to aching muscles”.
It’s the little things
Beauty is in the details, and Bardessono embodies this approach. From product dispensers that reduce the waste from the miniature bottles of toiletries typical in other venues, to the handmade bath products themselves, everything has been thought of. Even the decoration is green: Thanks to a partnership with Andrea Schwartz Gallery, upcycled works of art are dotted throughout the hotel.
Bardessono is determined to show that eco-friendly principles do not force you to compromise. General Manager Nanci Sherman confides: “We can provide a fully luxurious guest experience and be very green at the same time.” From the moment you step into the facility, a spa butler takes care of you, making personalised recommendations and ensuring that your every need is catered for. To take luxury to a new level, you can also request a treatment in your very own room and a personal therapist sets everything up for you to enjoy a lavish pampering session.“At Bardessono, we pride ourselves on fostering an environment that embraces responsible luxury,” spa manager Sandra Grignon adds.
A visit to a green spa will leave you looking and feeling angelic. And bearing in mind how good it is for the environment, there is no reason not to make it a regular outing.
Mary Cutter/Worldcrunch Story Lab