Category Archives: Member News

News about Green Spa Network Members

GSN Announces 10th Anniversary Congress

The Green Spa Network (GSN) announces the location and theme for its 10th Anniversary Congress, the only spa industry event dedicated to sustainability education and inspiration. With the theme of “Inspire Action and Create Community through Storytelling,” the 10th Anniversary Congress with take place at the award-winning Carmel Valley Ranch, March 11-14, 2018.

Storytelling has fostered human interaction since the invention of language. Whether it’s through extraordinary experiences being shared by guests, employees sharing the benefits of treatments and products, or the décor and menu of a spa communicating how they support wellbeing, storytelling is a major part of the spa experience. Write your story at the 10th Anniversary Congress, and discover the most effective ways to inspire action and engage with your community by telling your story.

A unique gathering in the spa industry, GSN’s Congress creates an environment for professional and personal exploration through quality education, collaborative sessions, and networking. Facilitated at resorts that prioritize and incorporate the natural environment, Congress presents an unparalleled opportunity to discover sustainable solutions for your business, evoke your purpose, forge relationships with a nurturing community, and be inspired by nature to support our mission of “Vital People. Vital Planet.”

Convening at Carmel Valley Ranch, located in the sunny foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, Congress will offer attendees a multitude of adventures and excursions to experience this beautiful part of the planet we are committed to supporting. As a camp-inspired resort, Carmel Valley Ranch encourages a playful connection to nature and each other.

“You will be inspired to live your best life, recapture your youthful joy, and align your vision to surpass everyone’s expectations, especially your own!” promises Tracie Wertz, GSN Board Member and Congress Chair. “The 10th Anniversary Congress will be more magical than we have come to expect and I would tell anyone interested in elevating their personal and professional story to join us in Carmel Valley to explore the limitless possibilities and vibrate at a higher level in collaboration with spa industry and global sustainability leaders.”

The three-day GSN Congress event is designed to be an interactive experience providing attendees with the inspiration and supportive community necessary for taking action to support sustainable businesses, people, and planet. To find out more visit Registration and Early-Bird prices will open July 15, 2017.

About Green Spa Network:
GSN is a non-profit trade association serving the spa industry in support of action for a sustainable future. Their mission is to promote the vital connections between personal wellbeing, economic sustainability and the health of our planet. Through networking, education, and best practices developed with a membership of the nation’s most innovative green spas, GSN is a resource for vital people building a vital planet.

Contact: Jessica Gilden | Business Manager | 800-275-3045 |

Member Highlight: Claremont Hotel & Spa

Stacey Parks
Director of Spa Operations,
Claremont Club & Spa
GSN Member Since 2013






Why are you a GSN Member?
I identify with the GSN mission, the resources available, and the opportunities for networking and sharing best practices with like-minded Spa professionals.

Share a recent accomplishment, personally or professionally, in greening or sustainability.
We are so proud of our Spa Services Manager, Lauren Fong, who chaired the hotel’s Sustainability Committee for three years, and had a tremendous impact.  She wrote and received two $5000 grants to service John Garber Park, a small wild lands behind our property. Funds have been used to provide community workshops, create new collateral, and purchase new signage for the park.

Why does your spa prioritize social and/or environmental sustainability?
As stewards of a healthy body and mind, we naturally consider ourselves stewards of a healthy planet.  This includes all aspects of sustainability, from the product houses we choose to work with, to our paper use and recycling program, to educating our colleagues and guests about the ways they can support environmental sustainability through responsible use of resources.

What is your favorite way to connect with your community?
As an urban resort property, we have the advantage of a large proportion of our guests visiting from the local community, as well as our private Club membership.  We are able to nurture these relationships with our regular guests to be a trusted source of information about sustainability in health and wellness.

Share one way your spa makes a difference in your community.
In addition to assisting Garber Park with funding, we work with them ongoing to remove invasive plants and to keep trails clear, which serves our community as well as our hotel guests who are excited about the hiking opportunities near the hotel.  Our guests also have the use of our Kids’ Club, where children are able to participate in gardening and composting projects to learn more about where their food comes from.  Community outreach is important to us, and we have participated in volunteer opportunities for coastal clean-up and boxing food at the Alameda County Food Bank.  Our Sustainability Committee incentivizes colleagues to participate by earning credits that they can collect and trade for rewards.

Where do you go to connect to nature?
We have a beautiful trail system very close to the hotel in Tilden Park, and in Redwood Park, which makes it convenient to regularly connect with nature even with a busy schedule. I am particularly drawn to the water, though, and find hiking or biking near the San Francisco Bay, in the Marin Headlands, or along the Pacific coast to be the ultimate way to reset.

How do you recharge? 
I find it important to disconnect from technology, and when I feel that need, I typically retreat to a remote hot springs where there is no cell phone coverage or WiFi available.  I sometimes have to put myself in a position of not having a choice in order to truly disconnect from technology and reconnect with myself, and it certainly makes a difference energetically when those around you are not buried in their phones. I always return from these retreats more grounded, with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation.

GSN Remains Committed to Our Vital Planet

The Green Spa Network (GSN) was founded on the mission of connecting our personal wellbeing to the vitality of our planet. Given the growing evidence for the impact our actions have on the environment and the global impact of climate change, GSN’s vision of creating a more sustainable future is more relevant than ever.

We approach sustainability in a broad manner, with the intention to encourage increased awareness and actions in response to the global imperative for earth friendly living. Our goal is to encourage actionable decisions that positively impact people and planet. While our individual efforts may seem small in the larger picture, there cannot be global change without individual action. We are all a part of the collective solution.

GSN is committed to providing its members and the broader spa industry with education, resources, and community gatherings to show what action can be taken to support our vision of a vital planet and vital people.

As a GSN member you understand the need to take care of the environment that gives so freely to us. You demonstrate your commitment by continuously seeking out solutions and taking action to support a vital planet and vital people.

Today, we recognize the need to remain vigilant in our efforts and invite individuals and businesses to re-affirm their commitment by signing ‘The Pledge for a Greener Future’. This action signifies your desire to seek out solutions and take action for a sustainable future that everyone can enjoy.

Help us create global change and Sign ‘The Pledge for a Greener Future‘ Today.


GSN Pledge for a Greener Future

As a member of GSN and the spa and wellness community, we are committed to promoting the vital connections between personal well-being, economic sustainability and the health of our planet.  We recognize that consciously and continuously managing our environmental and social relationships is key to our success.

We understand that greening principles, products and technologies are continually evolving.  We intend to respond to these developments and apply "best practices" that have a positive impact for our employees, customers and our local and global community.

Our goals are to:
- Provide and promote products, services and business practices that do not harm people, planet or prosperity.
- Engage in and inspire actions that result in a positive impact for personal and planetary vitality.
- Share our efforts with our local and global communities to raise their awareness of the connections between personal and planetary vitality.

To accomplish this, we will:
- Apply conservation practices to our use of water, energy and other resources.
- Adopt responsible reuse, recycling, and waste management and disposal practices.
- Reduce the use and promotion of products that contain hazardous substances.
- Source materials and supplies from companies that conduct their operations in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
- Make these objectives an integral part of our business planning and decision making
- Commit to continual improvement and revision based on evolving sustainable values and practices and our ability to implement better solutions.

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How to Go Plastic-Free with Spa Ojai


In April, iconic Southern California escape Ojai Valley Inn & Spa announced it will become free of single-use plastic items throughout Spa Ojai, its award-winning 30,000 square foot spa. The innovative movement replaces traditional spa amenities with eco-friendly, reusable versions and establishes a new benchmark in the luxury spa space.

Stemming from the realization that in 2016 Spa Ojai guests discarded 24,000 plastic snack cups and 107,120 plastic water cups after each use, Spa Director Kate Morrison sourced alternatives that both eliminate waste and support the complete luxury spa experience. Read the full press release here.


The Green Spa Network takes a deeper dive with Spa Director, Kate Morrison on implementing a plastic-free initiative and she offers some advice for those who may want to reduce their own plastic consumption.

What inspired you to make Spa Ojai ‘single use plastic-free’?

Last year a massage therapist on our team introduced me to an online video from titled “Open Your Eyes” about the detrimental impact single-use plastic is having on our planet.  The video prompted us to take an honest look around our spa, assessing our daily plastic consumption. We discovered that in 2016 we issued 34,120 bottles of water to our guests. We used 24,000 plastic snack cups and 107,120 water cups. Other single-use items included disposable hair combs, plastic-wrapped towelettes, wrapped razors, plastic bathing suit bags, and plastic mouthwash cups; each item literally used once and thrown away.  Shocked by the excessive waste being produced, we were inspired to make a plan for change.

In honor of the Earth Day 2017, Spa Ojai formally launched our single-use plastic free commitment. We have sourced alternative, reusable materials to eliminate waste, yet provide guests with the amenities and accessories necessary to support a complete luxury spa experience. The “green” initiatives throughout Spa Ojai are stamped with our signature oak leaf symbol, which was lovingly hand-drawn by our lead artist at the spa’s artist cottage. This symbol helps guide our guests through our innovative amenity program, continuously reminding them that by visiting Spa Ojai, they have participated in a conservation movement to better our environment.

What processes or actions are you using to facilitate your efforts throughout the property?

  • Water Cups: We used over 100,000 plastic water cups in 2016. Under the new initiative, all plastic water cups have been replaced with stainless steel 10 oz water cups from Klean Kanteen. Each cup has a spa-centric word etched into it to help guests identify their cup during their spa visit. We encourage guests to reuse their cup throughout their spa day and return it to the spa front desk at the conclusion of their experience. Each water station has a clean: “freshly prepared” or dirty “recently used” tray for cups. The used cups will be collected by spa housekeeping and stored in industrial cleaning bins in the spa housekeeping area. When full, the spa housekeeping team will take them to the Spa Café to run the 30-second cycle.
  • Snack Cups: Small stainless steel snack cups replaced the plastic ones we have been using.
  • Water Bottles: OVIS bottled water will be available by request only at the Spa, Gym and MB Studio. It should be provided without hesitation when requested. Reusable water bottles can be purchased at the Spa Boutique.
  • Plastic Bags: Rather than offering guests a plastic bag for their wet suit, we will now offer a bathing suit drying service. Spa Front Desk associates or Housekeeping will take the wet suit from the guest, dry it in the 30-second dryer, fold it neatly and put it into a cloth bag before returning it to the guest.
  • Razors and Shower Caps: Unwrapped razors and shower caps are available for guest use. Signage will be placed at each razor/shower cap station informing guests that these “fresh amenities” are clean and theirs to take home for reuse.
  • Oshibouri Towlettes: Plastic wrapped towelettes have been replaced with lavender-infused chilled washcloths at the gym.
  • Mouthwash Cups: A paper alternative will now be displayed for guests.
  • Hair Combs: High quality hair tools such as brushes and combs are available for guest use and will be cleaned and sanitized after each use and presented as “freshly prepared” or “recently used” at the vanity stations.

How are you engaging your employees in reducing plastic usage?

At our 2016 December departmental meeting, I gifted each Spa associate will a logoed Swell reusable water bottle. This gift accompanied a formal announcement that we would launch our Plastic-Free initiative on Earth Day 2017 and enabled our associates to begin participation in the movement immediately. Since the idea was formulated, associate engagement is thriving. It’s reignited a sense of pride and enthusiasm at work. Our team appreciates that the idea came from a line associate and that the team collectively worked to develop the new processes and source the alternatives that brought the idea to fruition.

Were there any obstacles you faced when implementing this initiative?

The first challenge we needed to overcome was the initial cost to launch our new plastic-free program. Several replacement items, equipment and tools, signage, training of staff, etc. were factored into the total cost of getting the idea off the ground. However, the fundamental concept behind this idea is sustainability. Now that the initial costs have been invested, our monthly operating expenses are lower and will eventually deliver a return.

Recently, we have noticed that the 10oz. stainless steel cup supply is depleting at a faster rate than we anticipated. To graciously ensure that our guests don’t leave with the cups, we now have them available for purchase at our Spa Boutique. We offer a paper cup alternative at Fitness Center, Mind Body Studio and Spa Lobby for a “to go” option.

What advice would you give to others who want to reduce their
plastic consumption?

The benefits outweigh the initial investment!  Guest feedback with this initiative has been positive from the point of conception. Fueled by passion from the associates, we highlight this initiative as part of a guest’s wellness experience. We’ve seen the strongest reaction from our return guests who acknowledge the change and have verbally thanked us for providing them with an alternative to plastic.

Another benefit has been in the networking and partnerships we’ve developed with the Plastic Pollution Coalition and Kleen Kanteen. Additionally, it has strengthened our relationship with many existing vendor partners who have cross-collaborated within social media to highlight our collective passion for green initiatives.

Finally, we are benefiting from the cost reductions associated with single-use plastic (although the motivation for this innovation was not financial). For example, the cost of our stainless steel water cups is forecasted to meet the cost of one-year of the plastic alternative. However, the stainless steel cups can be reused again and again, delivering a positive return on investment.

“The greatest measure of success for us, however, is that our business will eliminate hundreds of thousands of single-use plastic items this year and for years to come.” – Kate Morrison, Spa Director, Spa Ojai

Has your company implemented a sustainability initiative? Tell us about it here or email us at   We’d love to share your efforts with our community and increase the positive impact we can have for a Vital Planet and Vital People.

Green Education at Local Day Spa

“For me the Green Spa Network has always been about what we can do collectively to create change.” – Cici Coffee,
Founding Board Member of GSN and Founder & CEO of Natural Body Spa & Shop.


Natural Body has been at the forefront of that change, establishing the first spa in the United States constructed and designed in accordance with Platinum LEED specifications, the highest level of certification, in 2009.

In a presentation this past March, Cici took attendees at the Annual GSN Buyers Conference through her journey of environmental stewardship, at a time when “green” resources weren’t as readily available as today. Discover how she successfully applied her passion and dedication in the video recording on our Facebook page here.

Following the event, held at Georgia’s Callaway Gardens, Cici hosted attendees at the Natural Body LEED-certified Brookhaven spa for treatments, plus an in-depth look at the countless steps that were taken to ensure the facility functioned at the highest level of environmental efficiency.

During construction of the Broohaven location, efforts were made to incorporate regional building materials into its design, including service room floors utilizing 50% post-industrial materials, and flooring created from wood reclaimed from a 100-year-old Georgia barn. “The idea is that old can still look beautiful and new,” said Cici. She then pointed out several “old, yet new” items in the lobby, including a repurposed medical cabinet that now features spa products, and a display case from an early Natural Body location opened 19 years ago, that was brought out of storage.

“Reducing our impact on the earth is always at the forefront of our thoughts when designing a new spa location,” said Cici Coffee in the 2009 Press Release, “We are very proud to be affiliated with such a revolutionary program that creates awareness around the importance of being environmentally responsible and allows us to continue to set standards in the green spa industry.”

A signature element of the LEED program is education or as Cici says, “our ability to tell the story,” of the sustainable measures taken in a project. Natural Body took their guest education a step further, earning them an ‘Innovation and Design’ credit. Throughout the spa, you’ll find “Green Education Outreach” signs detailing the LEED points achieved by Natural body, along with tips for “what you can do”.

The signs were curated by Peter Plishka, GSN Board Member and Director of Communications for Natural Body, and created by a student intern from Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to the Outreach signs, Natural Body has a large print-out in the lobby detailing their full LEED Certification report and a presentation that plays in the waiting room for clients to follow the process.

There are a total of 15 educational signs posted throughout the Brookhaven spa, each featuring local resources and tips for guests to join Natural Body in their sustainability initiatives. One example is the ‘Energy and Atmosphere’ credit that was achieved by installing climate controls in five different areas of the spa, to closely regulate temperatures based on the type of treatments being done within that area, while the “what you can do” encourages guests to turn off lights in vacant rooms and setting thermostats at 3 degrees cooler in the winter and 3 degrees warmer in the summer.


These unique signs are just one example of how Natural Body Spa & Shop is leading the way in environmental and social responsibility. Discover more of their efforts on their website or if you’re in Atlanta make sure to stop in and explore for yourself!


Have you implemented a unique social or environmentally-friendly initiative at your spa? Let us know about it via this quick online survey. We’d love to celebrate your efforts!

Mandarin Oriental and GSN Team Up for Sustainable Progress

The Spas At Mandarin Oriental Join The Green Spa Network To Foster Greater Sustainability Initiatives Worldwide

Hong Kong, 21 April 2017 – The Spas at Mandarin Oriental have partnered with the Green Spa Network (GSN), a non-profit association dedicated to the idea that ‘vital people can make a vital planet possible’. GSN’s efforts over the past 10 years have brought key spa and wellness industry players together to make a difference for sustainability.

One of GSN’s primary achievements has been the creation of a “Sustainability Assessment Tool,” an important resource that has allowed their individual member spas to evaluate and better organize more effective greening efforts. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is partnering with the Green Spa Network to create a “Group Sustainability Assessment,” which adapts their tool for use in global, multi-property hotel brands.

“Mandarin Oriental is the first global hotel brand to enlist all of its properties into the Green Spa Network, and the first brand to implement the Group Sustainability Assessment,” said Jeremy McCarthy, Mandarin Oriental’s Group Director of Spa. “The insights that will be revealed will help us to fulfill our goal to act responsibly for a sustainable future and bring a special focus to the contribution from our Spa division to Mandarin Oriental’s own goals for sustainability and corporate responsibility. We are delighted to embrace this initiative, to ensure that our Group’s spas are advancing sustainability in our industry and in our communities,” he added.

The Group Sustainability Assessment will also be made available to other hotel brands within the industry, and Mandarin Oriental will be working with GSN to encourage greater awareness and adoption of the assessment and to unite with other global brands to create positive change towards a more sustainable future for the spa industry.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, resorts and residences. Having grown from its Asian roots into a global brand, the Group now operates 29 hotels and eight residences in 19 countries and territories, with each property reflecting the Group’s oriental heritage and unique sense of place. Mandarin Oriental has a strong pipeline of hotels and residences under development, with the next hotel opening planned in Doha. Mandarin Oriental is a member of the Jardine Matheson Group.

Giving Back to the Stewards of the Earth

Laurel Whole Plant Organics celebrates our farmers, the stewards of our Earth,
with their 2017 Earth Day Initiative.


This Earth Day, Laurel Shaffer, owner and formulator of Laurel Whole Plant Organics (WPO), wanted to honor the hard-working farmers that make her products by donating to two local non-profits who support the local agriculture community. On April 22nd, Laurel WPO will donate 100% of their sales to a local biodynamic agriculture teaching program and the Green String Institute.

Laurel WPO takes purity and efficacy to a new level by using the highest quality, artisan ingredients. A 100% organic, raw, unrefined, whole plant line, Laurel sources directly from organic and biodynamic farms, handcrafting each product with love, integrity and unparalleled purity.

Laurel and Eric Pasch, Managing Partner at Laurel WPO, chose the two initiatives due to their strong relationship with and support of the farms that provide them with high quality ingredients. “Farming high quality organic and biodynamic herbs is not a sustainable farming practice, so anything we can do to support our farmers so they are able to provide us with these amazing botanicals for the long term is something we’re committed to doing,” says Eric.

One of the Biodynamic farms that grows herbs and flowers, and produces hydrosols and essential oils, specifically for Laurel WPO is located in Northern California. The farm also operates a non-profit teaching center that focuses on the practices of Biodynamic agriculture as a path for healing the earth and ourselves. Laurel and Eric chose the teaching center to support education of future farmers and sustainable farming practices.

The second non-profit to benefit from Laurel WPO’s Earth Day sales is the Green String Institute. Their mission is to educate a new generation of farmers on how to respect the earth and respond to the needs of their environment as they raise food that brings health to local populations. Operating on 140 acres in the rolling hills of Petaluma, California, the Green String Farm has opened their doors and fields, allowing the Institute to host an internship program on a highly diversified natural process farm. The Institutes goal is to show students how to improve the biology of the lands that they steward while growing healthy food.

“Artisan beauty ingredients aside, there is no future for us without farming.  Seeing new generations of eager young farmers is incredibly inspiring.  I see them as guardians of their land, and therefore stewards of our Earth.  On Earth Day, there is no one I’d rather support”. – Laurel Shaffer

4 Ways to Support a #VitalPlanet

While employing practices that support our Vital Planet is something GSN members do year-round, April brings increased global attention to our environmental practices through Earth Day.

Celebrated since 1970, Earth Day was established as a “national teach-in on the environment” and has evolved into a worldwide movement focused on green awareness. The brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson and inspired by the antiwar protests of the late 1960s, Earth Day was intended to bring environmental causes into the national spotlight. Today, the Earth Day Network estimates that more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities in 174 countries.

Support our Vital Planet this month with these Earth Day Activities suggested by GSN Members.

1. Put That Reusable Shopping Bag to Good Use

Whether your grocery shopping, donating used items, or consciously buying new items, carry it all in your eco-friendly bag from Eminence. While the company follows an “Earth Day Every Day” motto, Eminence is celebrating Earth Month by gifting an eco-friendly, reusable tote bag to the first 2,500 spa partners that place orders in April. Additionally, their educating consumers on “why” opting for a reusable bag is important, offering the following reasons for switching:

  • Reduce environmental impact: average person uses 375+ plastic bags annually
  • Limit plastic pollution: 1,000,000+ birds die each year from ingesting plastic
  • Prevent disease: fish ingest plastic, cancer-causing debris that can be passed on to people who eat fish
  • Save 100,000 animals that get sick or die from 20+ tons of plastic dumped into the ocean annually

“I am very passionate about doing all we can to conserve and protect our environment and wildlife,” says Boldijarre Koronczay, President of Eminence Organic Skin Care. “We should all have the mission to leave the Earth better than we found it – not just for our generation, but for future generations.” Discover their many Earth initiatives, including their Certified Organic farm in Hungary that recently opened its doors to the public.

2. Save a Little More Water

Learn how you can save a little more water this month by participating in Jurlique’s ‘Water Saving Challenge’ April 17th – April 23rd. They’ll be sharing a week of tips on how to save one of our most precious resources, water. Water is often wasted and there are simple things we can all do to conserve and make a difference. Follow along on Instagram @JurliqueUSA for tips and a chance to win their Activating Water Essence.

“Jurlique was founded on a simple truth – nature is the answer. We believe in the healing properties of nature and that we should never take more from the Earth than we need.” Learn how they put this into practice year-round here.

3. Get Outside with Friends, Co-Workers, and Family

Universal Companies feels that to appreciate the outdoors you need to enjoy the outdoors! So, the Friday before Earth Day, they are hosting ‘Outdoor Day’, encouraging employees to take breaks to work in the garden, walk, and enjoy nature. They will be planting trees around their company walking trail, providing additional shade and walking appeal for those sunny summer days and redesigning their company garden by planting perennials for enjoyment year-round.

‘Outdoor Day’ is also incorporates wellness, featuring a potluck Salad Lunch and outdoor fun with tug-of-war, blowing bubbles, and hula hoops! They’ll even have the company band, The Insubordinates, playing in the afternoon (Fun Fact: Universal’s Copy Editor and GSN’s Personal Care Advisory Council volunteer, Lisa Sykes plays the tambourine and serves as a backup singer!).

4. Raise Awareness by Sharing Your Love of the Earth

Spread the word on why you love the Earth and what you’re doing to support our #VitalPlanet by participating in the “I Love the Earth Because…” social campaign or by creating and sharing your favorite list of Earth Day Activities.

In an effort to raise public awareness about how we can “Go Green for the Earth”, Pevonia curated a list of their favorite eco-friendly actions and are encouraging their distributors, employees, and social media followers to join them in the Pevonia Earth Day Pledge. They also created unique “selfie cards”, encouraging employees to sign, snap a selfie and share on social using #PevoniaEarthDayPledge.


What is your favorite Earth Day Activity? Are you hosting an activity at your business or in your local community?

Reach out and let us know at or @GreenSpaNetwork – Let’s ramp up the noise for our Vital Planet!

Embracing WELLness through Water

WTS International embraces ‘WELLness’ with Sustainability Initiative.


Like many great initiatives, it began with an inspiring speech and a drive to make an impact.


During Scott Harrison’s (Founder of charity:water) 2015 ISPA Keynote, the WTS Executive Team was moved to take action. They had found a message their team could resonate with: ensuring that everyone in the world has access to one of the essential elements – water.

“We take our plentiful supplies of clean water for granted and our spa industry is founded on it, yet many people in the developing world do not even have access to clean drinking water,” – Gary Henkin, President and CEO of WTS.

Once they had aligned around a charity, WTS then asked, “how can we reduce our impact on the environment operationally?” Their answer was to create ‘WELLness Begins with Water’, a project launched last year across all 110 WTS associated properties, with the goal of helping provide those in need with water and making the world a clear place by conserving water and reducing plastic usage at their properties.

To achieve this, WTS reached out to the Green Spa Network for input on the initial concept design and implementation strategy, which started with setting achievable goals that were not intimidating for their managers and directors to implement. Their goals were simple:

  • Decrease water usage by selecting products and developing protocols that minimize the amount of water necessary for production, packaging, and delivery.
  • Decrease the amount of water used during treatments and recommending ways to re-purpose rooms that were originally developed for hydrotherapy treatments.
  • Reduce or eliminate the plastics used within a facility by adopting more environmentally friendly options.

    GSN WTS Visit 2016. From left to right: Susie Hammer, WTS VP of Spa Operations; Paul Schmidt, GSN Executive Director; Mary Pilch Simpkins, WTS Marketing Communications Manager; and Shannon Gale, then WTS Business Development Coordinator


As a teaser announcement at the end of 2015, WTS provided a holiday gift of reusable water bottles to all managers and directors. Serving a dual purpose, the water bottles created initial excitement while encouraging reuse and the reduction of plastic. At the beginning of 2016, WTS began holding Division calls where managers were presented with an ‘Implementation Guide’ that outlined the reduction of water and plastic usage and how to support charity:water.

WTS broke the guide into four relevant categories: plastic supplies; laundry and linen; fixtures and space planning; and treatments and protocols. For each category, WTS provided recommendations for reducing water and plastic, preferred vendors, and how success would be measured.

Plastic Supplies were tracked by comparing the amount of plastic cups and bottled water purchased this year to the properties 2015 total. Properties were recommended to reduce plastic throughout the facility, by offering reusable or recyclable cups, providing glass or stainless steel water bottles for purchase, and incorporating water filling/filtration systems.

For Laundry and Linen WTS recommended properties incorporate fewer towels into service protocols, replace cotton textiles with microfiber, and use lighter weight textiles requiring less water and energy. Vendor options were provided and success was tracked using a laundry audit, which measured laundry volume against guest visits and treatments conducted once per quarter.

Fixture and Space Planning focused on utilizing water-efficient fixtures, water-conserving appliances and retrofitting hydrotherapy elements into other revenue driving services. WTS provided case studies showing a reduction in water usage and increase in revenue from retrofitting several of their spa’s wet rooms.

Treatments and Protocols offered examples of waterless treatments and recommended balancing treatments that require water with drier treatments, using cream masks versus clay masks that require more towels and water to remove, and purchasing ingredients in bulk to make scrubs and masks in-house.

WTS saw an enthusiastic response from their vendors, who participated by providing solutions for properties to reduce water and plastic or donated to the WTS Silent Auction. MJ Corp was a crucial partner, providing a donation program, whereby a portion of the proceeds from purchases of MJ Corp water bottles would go directly to charity:water.

Other examples included:

  • Phytomer’s waterless body treatments using their Showerless Scrub and their Firming Gel Body Wrap
  • Farmhouse Fresh body treatments that can be performed in a dry room, eliminating the need for showers
  • HydroPeptide’s Active Body Scrub which can be used as a ‘dry rub’ scrub, eliminating the need for water
  • ZENTS bulk/dispensary packaging you can order in pouches, saving on plastic and storage
  • Malie Organics gallon refill amenity program, which supplies 16oz bottles to be refilled for use in common areas, reducing waste of travel size bottles

Members of the WTS Corporate team


The preliminary results presented at the 2016 GSN Congress by Mary Lynn Mellinger, Director of Planning and Design for WTS International, provided an amazing example of how “small steps make a big difference.”

Since April 2016 WTS has seen:

  • Plastic usage (via water bottles or cups) reduced by 50% on average
  • Linen usage reduced by 30% on average
  • 70% of WTS properties incorporate water efficient fixtures within the locker rooms or treatment rooms
  • 60% of WTS Spas incorporating new service protocols or adding “create your own” products to reduce water and plastic usage

Water Filtration System at VERDURE

One of the best examples is Taos, the Spa and Wellness Center at The Blake, who implemented water filling stations encouraging the use of refillable water bottles and eliminated hydrotherapy treatments. Harborview Health Club and VERDURE also implemented water filling stations to reduce plastic water bottle usage.

Because of their initial success, WTS feels they can do more and will continue the cause in 2017. “Seeing that our efforts could make a difference, we got very excited about the potential of doing more and helping more individuals get access to clean water.  We have so many ideas, we just needed more time to implement.” – Mary Pilch Simpkins, WTS Marketing Communications Manager for WTS International.


Next Steps

Originally created in the corporate office, ‘WELLness Begins With Water’ has seen a passionate response from WTS properties and a strong desire from their Spa Directors, Fitness Directors and Lifestyle Directors to get involved. So, this year’s ‘2.0 version’ will be led by onsite managers and directors who have volunteered to make the ‘Implementation Guide’ more user-friendly and allow for better implementation in the field. “They are the ones on the ground, finding out what’s realistic and what’s not. And that is the intent of the 2.0 version,” said Mary Pilch Simpkins.

Additionally, the project will be split into two Task Forces, “GSN 2.0” focusing on water and plastic reduction and “charity:water” focused on best practices for supporting the charity. WTS is committed to the evolution of this project and has dedicated a portion of their monthly manager calls to these volunteers to share progress, ask questions, and get feedback.

The 2017 Task Force will be spearheaded by:

‘charity: water’ Task Force

  • Elizabeth Stogden, Lifestyle Director at Oceana Bal Harbour (Bal Harbour, FL)
  • Heidi Freitas, Fitness Director at Skye Canyon (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Sydney Shapiro, Fitness Director at 2200 Pennsylvania Ave (Washington, DC)
  • Trish Mittelstadt, Spa Director at The Spa at Trump (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Crystal Steere, Spa Director at Naples Beach Hotel (Naples, FL)
  • Anaelyse Napoles, Spa Director at Wyndham Clearwater Beach (Clearwater, FL)

‘GSN 2.0’ Water and Plastic Reduction Task Force

  • Catherine Warren, Spa Director at Eau Spa (Palm Beach, FL)
  • Elizabeth Stogden, Lifestyle Director at Oceana Bal Harbour (Bal Harbour, FL)
  • Anaelyse Napoles, Spa Director at Wyndham Clearwater Beach (Clearwater, FL)
  • Trish Mittelstadt, Spa Director at The Spa at Trump (Las Vegas, NV)

As with most projects, the first year was about trial and error. WTS Corporate laid the ground work, empowering their managers and directors to take action. Now with ‘WELLness Begins with Water 2.0’ they are taking the initiative to the next level, further reducing WTS’s global usage of plastic and water and increasing global access to safe drinking water by supporting the charity that inspired it all.

Taos, the Spa and Wellness Center at The Blake

Do you have an initiative that supports a vital planet or vital people? We would love to hear about it! Email us or submit your story here.

Miraval Arizona’s Lemongrass Skewered Duck Breast with Daikon Radish & Miso

Chef Brandon Cathey

Miraval Arizona

Lemongrass Skewered Duck Breast with Daikon Radish and Miso by Chef Brandon Cathey

1 shoot of lemon grass
1 duck breast
1 cup shredded daikon radish
¼ cup chopped cherries
Radish sprouts for garnish
¼ cup miso vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste
1tbsp. blended oil

Method: thinly slice duck breast and use the lemongrass shoots as a skewer. In a hot skillet add the oil and sear the duck breast to medium. Mix the daikon, cherry and radish sprout with miso vinaigrette and lay the skewers on top of when they are cooked

Miso vinaigrette
2tbsp. white miso paste
1tbsp. chopped shallot
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1tbsp. honey
1.5 cups blended oil

Method: in a blender add all ingredients except oil and blend on high. Slowly add oil to emulsify and season with salt and pepper if necessary.