The seed of our network was planted at the 2002 International Spa Association conference, when Rancho La Puerta founder, Deborah Szekely, urged spas to become more actively involved in the burgeoning environmental movement. Building off of her inspirational keynote, a small group of individuals joined together in an informal task force, initially dubbed “Healing the Waters,” to explore the connections between personal and planetary wellness. Resource partners like LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) and Green America aided this early group by offering conference and networking opportunities for like-minded individuals to connect and share ideas.
From the beginning, the group understood becoming a green spa to be an ongoing process, not an endpoint. Though many feared they were not “green enough” to be part of a network, the group quickly emphasized a shared intention of supporting one another to make changes step-by-step and as they were feasible.
In 2006, a dozen leading spas from all parts of North America came together as Seed Spas, contributing time and financial resources, and developing an initial sustainability assessment process. The Green Spa Network was officially incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) trade association in 2007, and opened the door for spas and resource partners to become members. In 2008, the Horst Rechelbacher Foundation provided a generous contribution that enabled the organization to continue to develop educational materials and survive the recession.
Since its inception, Green Spa Network has grown to include over 1000 members, representing all facets of the spa industry.
Gatherings & Events
GSN has convened an Annual Congress since 2008 for committed members in order to continue the practice of sharing research, best-practices, and implementing actions. The first 3-day gathering, facilitated by sustainability expert Darcy Hitchcock, was held in Atlanta, Georgia, and focused on developing an assessment tool process to raise awareness within our industry. Subsequent Congresses have been held at Rancho La Puerta in Baja California, Mexico; Westin Riverfront Resort in Avon, Colorado; a LEED Certified Hotel; and Robert Redford’s Sundance resort. GSN has featured speakers such as environmentalist and green entrepreneur Paul Hawken, hospitality visionary Chip Conley, and world leader in sustainable design practice, David Oakey.
In 2012, Green Spa Network launched its first annual Buyer’s Conference as an opportunity to connect spa leaders with a wide range of eco-friendly products and suppliers.
Each gathering draws more and more people as GSN continues to build the meaning and reality of a sustainable spa industry.