Sustain & Gain: Greenify Your Spa, Reduce Costs and Help the Planet

| January 22, 2020

No matter what you think about the connections between personal and planetary vitality, at a core level, sustainability in spas just makes sense. For many spas the basic idea that everything is interconnected is already woven into the fabric of their brand through references to “holistic” treatments or statements like “for the betterment of body, mind and spirit.” Many clients seek out spa experiences to settle what feels out of balance or disjointed in their bodies and find that their emotional, psychological and even spiritual “selves” benefit too.

But sending guests, relaxed and happy, out into a world with polluted air and water and crowded confusion seems shortsighted somehow, doesn’t it? If your spa is really about supporting wholeness and vitality for your guests, it’s not a stretch then to find that this mission is only enhanced by environmental and social responsibility as well.

There are many simple, cost effective ways to get more up to speed with your business’ sustainability program. Let’s break it down from three perspectives.
For most of us, the core of greening lies in respecting the environment and bringing conscious care to the ways in which our businesses impact our finite natural resources like energy and water.

Paying attention to the impact your business has on the environment is becoming the new status quo. Just like well-being isn’t something your guests just “do” and check off a list, neither is your environmental responsibility. It’s an ongoing pursuit to continually find new ways to improve your carbon and social footprint.

If you’re not already utilizing energy efficient lighting and low flow plumbing fixtures, start there.

While your guests won’t always say it to you directly, many of them notice if you’re not employing these accessible cost saving strategies and have a hard time believing you’re actually committed to anything green.

“We no longer print spa menus for guests to take home, as most were ending up in trash or recycling cans,” says Cassandra Brookins, manager at SpaBlue at Del Mar in Del Mar, Calif. “Instead we have menu books available at the front desk for guests to browse and we direct them to our website to look over at home.” At SpaBlue, they have also removed the waterfall feature at their front entrance and replaced it with a plant garden.

Unless you’re creating a new facility, you might think it’s too expensive to utilize green building strategies. In the case of reducing the airborne toxic impact of your spa through VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds found in paints, varnishes and finishes), this is not the case. When giving your spa a face lift with a fresh coat of paint, be sure to ask your paint supplier about eco options and use a non-VOC, water-based product.
On the heels of eco-greening and at the leading edge of the movement is the idea that all of us are at our best when we are supported by our families, friends, coworkers and communities. Bringing conscious care to creating a workplace experience that nurtures your staff taps into a wellspring of energy that only fuels your spa’s mission and brings more value to your guests and local community.


Look at your spa’s goal to leave guests relaxed, revitalized and feeling well, and ask yourself if your employees have the same experience. Do they come to work and start a shift anticipating hours of purposeful, fun work that leaves them satisfied and fulfilled on all levels? Do they share enthusiastically and genuinely with guests and take pride in their healing role? Do they enjoy their coworkers and take time to do things that support the “back of the house” energy and experience?

Don’t sell your staff short. There are plenty of spas out there with incredible vitality, positive teamwork and passion for profound guest service emanating from their employees. Foster open channels of communication and seek input and ideas from all levels of your staff. Listen and take action on their best ideas. It’s not just how much money a therapist earns per treatment that matters to them. It’s also the balance of how many treatments they do vs. how many hours they spend at work not doing treatments that really fuels their satisfaction. It takes a creative scheduling policy to go along with your compensation plan to keep your team motivated and positive.

At Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz., communication with staff is supported with technology through the use of Hot Schedules, an app that logs and tracks shift swapping, making flexible scheduling less of an administrative burden. They also have a private Facebook page to facilitate discussions and address staff issues immediately, which prevents problems from festering between difficult to schedule staff meetings. “Our staff Facebook page has really helped everyone stay connected on important conversations,” says Miraval director Grant Bruce. “This way we avoid the pitfalls of the rumor mill and telephone game phenomenon that can arise so easily with a staff of talented and passionate people.”
As discussed in “Make the Connection,” in this year’s June edition, spas everywhere are seeing that actively giving back to their communities brings positive dividends to their social and economic “bank accounts” and, depending on the nature of the cause, the ecological one as well.

Often the “investment” involved in partnering with a community event is mostly measured in volunteer time, making this a highly cost-effective way to boost team morale, generate positive brand impressions and make a measurable difference in your community all at the same time.


Growing a successful business in a world with so many rapid changes is becoming more and more challenging for traditional businesses. However, new approaches to how you can honor the heart and soul of your mission and values while deliberately achieving huge financial success are beginning to emerge. In regards to whatever sustainable initiatives you’ve been able to accomplish, if there isn’t already a better way to do it now there most definitely will be soon. Spread the word about your sustainable spa and avoid greenwashing by sharing openly about your efforts from a place of honesty, transparency and humility. Make sure to measure and report on your accomplishments as specifically as possible. Your customers and other stakeholders respond to seeing the real impact you’re making much more than they care about your commitment or intentions.

Growing a sustainable brand is not difficult if you keep it simple and take one step at a time. Just like any business pursuit; take action, learn from the results and improve as you go. For innovators, sustainability offers a rich context for being creative and discovering simple ways to cause positive change. However you approach it, your sustainable brand is one of the best assets you can build to support a stable, thriving bottom line in a world of change.

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