Founded in 2002 and officially incorporated as a 501(c)(6) trade association in 2007, the Green Spa Network (GSN) was established with the mission of promoting the natural connections between personal well-being, economic sustainability, and the health of our planet. GSN has always believed that social and environmental responsibility can take many forms and emphasizes its intention of supporting the spa industry in making changes step-by-step and as they are feasible.
The seed for creating GSN was originally planted in 2002 at the International Spa Association Conference, where Deborah Szekely (Founder of Rancho La Puerta) urged spas to become actively involved in the burgeoning environment movement. Inspired by her words, a small group of individuals, including Founding Board Members, Michael Stusser, Tara Grodjesk, Jim Chenevey, and Cici Coffee, joined together to form the “Healing the Waters” task force and explore the connections between personal and planetary wellness.
In 2006, Michael Stusser (Founder of Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary) invited a dozen leading spas from across North America to contribute their time and financial resources as “Seed Spas” to officially form the Green Spa Network. The following year, GSN became a non-profit trade association, opening the door for spa and wellness companies to become members.
In 2008, the Horst Rechelbacher Foundation provided a generous contribution enabling GSN to develop educational resources and host its first GSN Congress. The first event, facilitated by sustainability expert Darcy Hitchcock, was held in Atlanta, GA and focused on developing an assessment tool to raise awareness and support sustainable practices in the spa industry. GSN Congress has since become a fixture in the landscape of spa industry events, known for building deep community connections, delivering inspirational learning and encouraging innovative thinking. Congress has been held at well-known environmentally friendly resorts, such as Rancho La Puerta, Westin Riverfront Resort, Sundance Resort, and Devil’s Thumb Ranch. GSN has also hosted visionary leaders in environment and social responsibility, such as environmentalist and green entrepreneur Paul Hawken, hospitality visionary Chip Conley, inspirational leader Jean Houston, global sustainability thought leader Simon Robinson, and world leader in sustainable design practice, David Oakey.
In 2012, GSN hosted its first annual Buyer’s Conference to connect spa leaders with eco-friendly products and companies. The event also financially supports GSN’s ability to continue providing education, resources, and events to its members. Buyer’s Conference has hosted attendees at award winning properties, such as The Claremont, Loews Ventana Canyon, The Inn & Spa at Loretto, Woodstock Inn, and Callaway Gardens.
In 2014, GSN launched the Sustainability Assessment Tool and associated GSN Toolkit, providing spa operators insight into their overall sustainability performance and best practices for taking sustainable actions. Currently, GSN has partnered with Mandarin Oriental Spas to adapt the SAT for spa groups, providing them with a comprehensive overview of sustainability performance across all spas within the group. The SAT also supports benchmarking in the industry by offering insight into the sustainable practices being implemented within the spa industry.