The World's Top 5 Greenest Spa Escapes
Tabacón Grand Thermal Spa Resort in La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica. Photo courtesy of Tabacón Grand Thermal Spa Resort.
4. Tabacón Grand Thermal Spa Resort, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa RicaThe cascading, mineral enriched waters in this rainforest-centered spa are the sound that accompanies a visitor's every activity--all that rushing water is necessary to wash off the main feature here: mud. The 12 pools are kept naturally warm by the Arenal volcano nearby, as is the water coming out of the showers. Low-energy light bulbs are used to keep electricity needs down. Tabacón is striving to be carbon neutral, so it has (in the tradition of Breitenbush) built a micro-hydro power plant to help achieve this goal. Unlike Breitenbush, Tabacón is a five-star resort, so the emphasis on its green stewardship is pretty muted on the Web site. The spa has 11 outdoor treatment pavilions for guests to pick and choose from, in addition to the volcanic mud treatments, chocolate, coffee, and/or coconut scrubs, or massage with volcanic stones.
Nasu Onsen Hot Springs in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Photo courtesy of the Japan National Tourist Council.
5. Nasu Onsen Hot Springs, Tochigi Prefecture, JapanRather than a single set of baths, the "Seven Hot Springs of Nasu" are celebrated in Japan for their health-giving properties, and visitors can hike and tour to the different springs to experience different mineral concentrations in the waters. The water is credited with healing properties capable of curing different physical complaints. Legend has it that a wounded deer once soaked itself in the volcanically-heated waters and recovered. This year the Nasu Onsen Town Council received an award for its efforts to use the hot springs' geothermal heat from the Nasu volcano to reduce carbon emissions. The Council has been encouraging the different Japanese-style inns in the area to install heat pumps to tap the warm waters for showers, snow melting, and warming buildings. While the warm (and sulfur-smelling) baths here don't specifically tout other green features, the area's 1,300-year history says something for its ability to sustainably manage resources!
The Honorable Mentions: More Green Spas in the U.S.Of course, traveling to these spas if you don't live in the country could break the carbon bank, so here are a few Honorable Mentions of seriously green spas that might be more in your neighborhood--take a look at Vermont's Strong House Spa, and The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. Westcoasters might want to check out the El Monte Sagrado Resort in New Mexico--the property is heated and cooled 100 percent geothermally--or the Post Ranch Inn, with its great examples of "biostructures" with green roofs, in Big Sur, California. Last but not least, the LEED-approved Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa in Napa, where "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore replaces the bible in rooms!* many etymology sources disagree that SPA comes from the Latin and say this is a 'backronym' - an acronym later added. Instead, some believe the origin of the word SPA is from the same-named town in Belgium.More on Green Spas and Spa Treatments
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