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Showcasing Your Spa with Sustainable Best Practices

Shelley Lotz

The trend in spa vacations, wellness classes, and eco therapy is growing and continues to weave its way into business as usual. With our dependence on resources and mother nature, sustainability is front and center in the hospitality industry. Most guests expect certain standards and that includes a more restorative mindset in our business models. Are you up to speed with your initiatives? Here are some best practices to consider in your CSR plans for spas, wellness programs, and beyond.

Evolving Your Brand

Include your sustainability mission and vision in your culture, messaging and marketing. Make it visible and share your success stories with your staff and on social media. Benefits: Guests want to stay in healthy, eco-minded places that support their values and interests. Many people look for green programs and certifications on your website. Stand out from the crowd with focus on your niche and unique programs. Examples: Even if you don’t have a large spa, you can offer some wellness amenities in your rooms and fitness center. You can also sponsor local wellness activities, promote local parks, and host on-site events such as eco-brand pop-ups. Offer holistic therapies bringing natural elements into the spa.

Assess Your Spa Services

Use treatment protocols that use less water, chemicals, and products. Benefits: Smart menu updates save resources and reduce costs for a better ROI. Time and staff needs are also reduced with more efficient services. It’s a more tranquil atmosphere with reduced cleanup time that can be better used for a more luxurious service. Examples: Many spas are switching from steam rooms to salt rooms for the health benefits and water and energy savings. Lighter towels and linens that dry faster are worth the investment. Masks and scrubs that rinse easier save towels, water use, shower needs, and laundry costs. Vichy showers and wet tables use a large amount of water so switching from heavy water use saves significant precious resources. Concentrate major water use in the spa thermal areas for an enhanced water therapy experience. Train the staff to be eco-conscious in their protocols and facility operations.

Vet Your Product and Retail Choices

Are any of your skin care brands natural and organic? Are your retail items locally made with natural materials? Is packaging minimal? Benefits: Savvy guests are well educated on clean, healthy products and ingredients. They notice the eco details in what they are buying. Spas that sell and use local crafted items create a more distinctive atmosphere of cultural appeal. Guests are more apt to select and recommend custom products they support and believe in. An important part of a spa’s success depends on a strong retail program that is both interesting and benefits guest’s wellness. Examples: Beyond natural, organic products, look for local suppliers of textiles, boutique items, amenities, and food that be used in lounge areas. Promote these brands in messaging and talk about their story in the spa. Can the big fancy throw away retail bags still be eco-lux and smaller made with recycled paper? Ask vendors to cut their excessive packaging and plan to switch up your retail bags when it’s time to buy again.

Choose Sustainable Purchasing

This is the main mantra in becoming more sustainable. Since most of us don’t have time for research and getting into the complex life cycle assessment (LCA), simply asking how each item impacts the world makes a big difference in any business. What is it made of? Is it durable? Is it non-toxic? Does it save resources? Benefits: Buying less-toxic materials is healthier for everyone. Quality lasts longer in the long run. Saving resources also reduces utilities and recycling costs. The benefits carry beyond the spa to manufacturing and the ecosystem. Examples: Supplies and equipment can be vetted for materials and resource savings. Plastic reduction and buying reusable supplies, instead of disposables saves costs and keeps plastic out of our waste stream and water ways. Building materials are becoming healthier every day but unhealthy air and toxins still cause health problems. Chemicals and cleaning supplies are a concern. Switch from single-use plastic water bottles to water stations and refillable glasses. Give guests their own refillable bottle branded with your logo.

Create Healthy Spaces

The spa experience is attuned to the five senses: smell, sight, touch, sound, and taste. The spa is based on all these aspects: scents, colors, natural elements, massage, music, and refreshments. Comfort, design, and wellness are woven into healthy spaces and rooms. Benefits: A healthy atmosphere and good indoor air quality affects the staff and guests both physically and mentally. The ventilation and heating system affect people’s comfort and happiness. Monitored temperature controls saves energy. Examples: Create wellness spaces and retreats for staff and guests. Use non-toxic products with natural scents, keep the facility amenities on brand, and pay attention to the details. Chlorine is not an appealing, healthy chemical—how can we reduce that? Check in with your staff and make sure they are comfortable and the space works for them as well. Can you add any fun touches to update the space on a regular basis?

Implementing sustainability standards as part of your brand is a positive step to long-term success. Stay competitive and current by adding eco wellness concepts to your services, products, purchasing, and spaces. We all know clean water is essential to the spa and travel industry, especially taking care of gorgeous beaches and oceans globally. Our decisions make a difference, so you can feel good about maintaining healthy spas, which is the true definition of an authentic spa and wellness philosophy.

About the Author

Shelley Lotz, Principal of Vios Spa Group, is a consultant, author, and educator. Vios provides quality standards, training, and certification. Lotz has over 30 years of experience in the spa/wellness/beauty industry as an owner, educator, and esthetician. She wrote Green Spas and Salons: How to Make Your Business Truly Sustainable and is a major contributing author of Milady’s Standard Esthetics Fundamentals, a textbook for esthetician students. She founded an institute of aesthetics, is a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor and a former Green Spa Network board member. Exploring the world is her ideal adventure. Contact Shelley at lotz.shelley@gmail.com or http://www.viosspagroup.com/ to find out more. The Vios Certified Sustainable Spa, a global certification program recognizing spas as leaders in sustainability, standards, and wellness is launching soon at CertifiedSustainableSpas.com.