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Shades of Green

By: Christa Hillstrom
Posted: November 25, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Editor's Note: Click here for documents that will help your business go green.

Weaving through the serene meditation garden upon arrival at Sonoma Valley, California’s Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, it’s hard to tell the landscape, carefully sculpted and designed to promote balance and connection between individuals and their environment, was once a musty junkyard. Or that the open, eco-friendly design was partially constructed of driftwood harvested from the sea. It’s not immediately obvious, but as underlying social tectonics increasingly shift in the direction of individual and environmental balance, spas like Osmosis are looking for new ways to express long-held values of harmony and wellness.

If you ask Joan Southon, this award-winning retreat’s general manager, the spa-goer profile is coming full circle. A few years ago there were as many guests gabbing on cell phones in spa lobbies as those looking for a quieter kind of communion, but spa consumer behavior and attitudes are changing, Southon notes, harkening back to an ethos treasured by spa creators from the beginning.

Wellness, when it comes to the spa, has always been about more than the human body—it’s about connecting to a healthier wider world. “It’s still a great girlfriend getaway, but as the world is changing, the guests are once again seeking a transformational experience,” Southon says.

A unique position

Spas are uniquely positioned to pave the way for customers seeking responsible, eco-friendly venues. They do require considerable water and energy resources in consumption and waste, but unfortunately, there’s no switch in the boiler room you can just flip into the “green” position. In the seemingly infinite universe of product and renovation possibilities, how do you start making your way to green?