The spa is a place you go to take care of your body and recharge your mind. As more and more spas embrace environmental and social stewardship, however, it's also becoming a place to soothe your conscience. That's because "eco spas" allow you to be simultaneously relaxed and responsible. With spa treatments that combine sumptuousness with sustainability, their mission is to care simultaneously for people and the planet, giving peace of mind to incentive planners and participants alike.
"As consumer environmental awareness grows, more and more groups are interested in learning about the environmental impact of their travel experiences," says Melania Lopez, marketing director for the Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa in Arenal, Costa Rica (pictured above), which offers a selection of eco-friendly treatments (see more details below). "Whether it's an individual guest or groups, environmental consciousness is a travel trend that's definitely here to stay. Spa-goers know that our world is changing and that everyone makes an impact on our environment, so a spa's 'green' quotient is more important now than ever."
Here are five treatments that illustrate their offerings, each of which promises to do good both for employees and for the Earth.
Ojo Dreamin' at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa (Ojo Caliente, NM)
Sustainability permeates every pore of Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, where practices such as passive rainwater collection, solar energy, and geothermal heating and cooling are staples of everyday operations. In the spa, many treatments utilize Round Barn Apothecary skincare products and steaming hot herbal towels. The former are formulated with organic botanicals that are indigenous to the Southwest while the latter are infused with local wild herbs that are returned to the resort's gardens as mulch post-treatment. Ojo Dreamin' is a treatment that features both. Lasting 2 hours and 10 minutes, the $249 treatment begins with an 80-minute massage and steaming Ojo hot herbal towels to melt away muscle tension. Next comes a scalp massage using Round Barn Apothecary Hair Therapy to strengthen and repair damaged hair. Finally comes a reflexology foot massage designed to balance one's energy, leaving both the mind and body revitalized.
Tabacón Massage at Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa (Arenal, Costa Rica)
Because water is a naturally purifying, balancing, and cleansing element, water treatments are a fixture of many spa experiences. Due to the energy that's required to heat the water, however, they aren't always the most environmentally friendly. Not so at Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa. Because it sits at the base of Costa Rica's Arenal Volcano, magma from which provides natural heat for the thermal springs that supply the spa's water, guests can enjoy guilt-free the thermal mineral spring water showers that conclude many of its treatments. For example, check out the Tabacón, a signature treatment that begins with 15 to 20 minutes of stretching in order to prepare the body and promote flexibility. Next, a medium-pressure massage is applied to the entire body with moisturizing volcanic mud that detoxifies the skin and improves blood circulation. Finally comes the aforementioned shower, which is a refreshing -- and sustainable -- end to the 90-minute experience. As Lopez explains: "We kept sustainability in mind when selecting local materials for our spa bungalows, which have thatched roofs made of palm and caña brava -- a local wild shrub similar to bamboo. The bungalow floors are made of very special, local hardwoods and the entire area is designed to allow the fresh air, scents, and sounds of the rainforest to be an essential part of each treatment." The treatments costs $160.
Divine Wine Facial at The Allison Inn & Spa (Newberg, OR)
Located in the middle of Oregon wine country, The Allison Spa in Newberg, OR, specializes in treatments and products that utilize natural ingredients from the Pacific Northwest -- including herbs, flowers, and seeds grown at nearby wineries or in the resort's own onsite gardens. A favorite is the Divine Wine facial, which promises to restore your skin's youthful glow by leveraging the natural brightening and firming benefits of local wine grapes. The treatment includes a nourishing honey and wine mask, a radiance-boosting serum, and a grape seed moisturizer, all complemented by a non-alcoholic mimosa beverage. Choose either a 60-minute treatment for $135 or a 90-minute treatment for $175.
Fall Rebalancing at Salamander Resort & Spa (Middleburg, VA)
Virginia's Salamander Resort & Spa is built on sustainability -- literally. Not only is it located on top of a 340-acre wetlands conservation easement, but it also was among the country's first LEED-certified luxury resorts. Its eco-conscious design extends to its spa, which offers four "Seasonal Rituals" that have a sustainable bent. Created in partnership with a local herbologist/alchemist, each treatment utilizes local plant extracts and essential oils in organic carriers, unused portions of which are repurposed into candles post-treatment. Its autumnal "Fall Rebalancing" ritual, for example, promotes relaxation with a fall-inspired aroma blend that includes frankincense, eucalyptus, pine, grapefruit, and ylang ylang. Designed to calm the mind, refresh the feet, and energize the lungs, it includes a gentle dry skin exfoliation, a stimulating scalp treatment, and a full-body massage that blends Swedish, deep tissue, and Ayurveda techniques. The 80-minute treatment costs $225.
Aloha Nui Loa Signature Nail Care at Turtle Bay Resort (Kahuku, Oahu, HI)
A central philosophy in Hawaiian culture is "Aloha Aina," which means "love of the land." That love is evident at Hawaii's Turtle Bay Resort, which produces its own electricity with a green roof consisting of 1,500 solar panels producing 8 percent of its annual power needs. At Turtle Bay's NaluKinetic Spa, check out the Aloha Nui Loa Signature Nail Care treatment. Most nail treatments utilize conventional nail polishes that contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate, which can be unhealthy not only for human beings, but also for animals and the environment. The Aloha Nui Loa Signature Nail Care treatment, however, uses vegan "9-free" non-toxic nail polish and nail care products. Each 50-minute manicure or pedicure -- costing $75 or $95, respectively -- starts with softening, hydrating, and stimulating worn and calloused skin. Next, nails are shaped, groomed, and polished. Finally, moisture is sealed in with macadamia nut butter that's scented with pikake, ginger, and lime.