The world’s top five eco-friendly spas

JANET BRICE discovers a handful of Green retreats from Cornwall, to Costa Rica and Australia where you can languish in a lagoon warmed by the nearby volcano, relax in a French-style chateau deep in a rainforest or bubble in a hot tub perched on a cli

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort, Costa Rica - click here to visit the website >

Images: Courtesy featured resorts


Situated in Costa Rica’s northern region at the foot of the Arenal Volcano is this carbon-neutral spa resort offering adventure and relaxation in a rich rainforest setting. A natural thermal river flows through the grounds, cascading down picturesque waterfalls and forming 12 hot spring pools and lagoons which are naturally heated by the towering volcano. The Grand Spa is reached via a series of winding stone pathways and arched bridges and incorporates the mineral springs into its unique open air environment and various hydrotherapy experiences. Treatments are enjoyed in open air garden bungalows, each with private Jacuzzi, and guided yoga sessions and ancient style temazcal (sweat lodges) are available.




Signature treatments harness the powers of the nearby volcano by offering volcanic mud wraps and a volcanic hot stone massage. The lifestyle and wellness programme, which includes Ayurvedic food, advice from a nutritionist, time with a personal trainer and spa treatments, using natural ingredients, are not to be missed. The 102 traditionally styled guest rooms feature locally crafted furniture and private decks and you can dine in the Ave del Paraiso Restaurant, which is located in the lush gardens and provides buffet-style dining as well as dedicated spa cuisine.



Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Australia >


According to actor Hugh Jackson "The Spa Sanctuary at Gwinganna, Australia, is quite simply world class. One feels simultaneously immersed in nature and indulgent luxury." Fresh air, pristine water and the oldest rainforests in the world make this continent an exquisite location for cleansing the soul. Now you can cleanse your body and mind at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat - Australia's only 100 per cent organic health destination. This eco-friendly spa sits proudly on a plateau on over 500 acres in a hidden region of the Tallebudgera Valley and enjoys breath-taking ocean views towards Queensland’s Gold Coast. It’s just waiting to be discovered… Gwinganna translates to “lookout” which was the original name given to the region by the Aboriginal people as the views stretch from Moreton Bay to Coolangatta. Guests are encouraged to follow in the Aboriginal’s footsteps with Dreamtime.




This is a part of the day during which guests are urged to slow down and appreciate their surroundings and enjoy the environment. Each day after lunch you are invited to stop... visit the spa or book a wellness therapy, read a book, nap, sit by the pool, relax in one of Gwinganna's many lounge areas, wander through the organic orchard or take a stroll down to the rainforest. The 33-room Spa Sanctuary has two swimming pools, an elevated outdoor deck and llounge which overlook the native spa garden and Crystal Steam Room. Gwinganna cuisine enjoys a clean and pure journey from preparation to plate as most of the food is grown on site in the organic gardens. Resident botanist and social ecologist John Palmer offers early morning nature walks and gives talks to inspire guests to adopt a more sustainable approach to living in the modern world. He is also the beekeeper and regularly harvests the Gwinganna honey. The team at Gwinganna have now launched their first book From Garden to Gourmet which is a celebration of organic cuisine packed with recipes to create at home.



Karkloof, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa >


The spirit of Spa-fari looks bright when you visit Karkloof as this is you’re an all-singing health zone in the heart of ZwaZulu Natal. It lolls happily in a green bowl with acres of stunning countryside, craggy cliffs in the distance and the glittering waters of the Albert Falls Dam oozing freshness and light. Just soaking up the great outdoors can be mediation in itself. You can spot kudu, springbok, giraffe and zebra, go for daily nature walks, mountain bike, trek, fish and swim at Africa’s first destination spa which was designed and built in the most environmentally friendly way possible. There are 17 spacious treatments rooms each with magnificent views of the surrounding valley. The spa was designed to seamlessly merge with the natural surroundings and eco-friendly methods have been used throughout its construction. Living roofs, which allow the buildings to become part of the landscape, and thatched walkways are just two of the eco-conscious elements of the design.




Other eco-friendly practices adopted at Karkloof include recycling all grey water via the wetlands so that it re-enters the natural ecosystem, dual flush toilets and planting indigenous trees around buildings. All produce and products used are 100 per cent bio-degradable and eco-friendly. The spa offers everything from ginger tea and lemongrass wraps and Thai melon and honey facials to flotation, reflexology, mineral baths, kneipp pools and access to the spa’s hydrotherapy facilities. Personalised weight loss, detox and wellness programmes are also available at the wellness centre for those guests with specific health and fitness goals in mind. And if that wasn’t enough you can relax in colonial-style rooms and eat hearty game or cleansing raw food as nothing is imported or unseasonal.



The Chateau Spa & Organic Wellness Resort, Malaysia >


As you approach the pink castle you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the French countryside instead of deep in the rainforests of Malaysia. Located on Berjaya Hills, The Chateau Spa & Organic Wellness Resort sits poised amidst a thick rainforest landscape, 3,000 feet above sea level. Modelled to resemble the 18th-century “Haut Koenigsbourg” castle in Alsace, France, the award-winning haven, which calls itself the world’s first organic spa and wellness resort, brings European flair to Malaysia. The sparkling centrepiece of the resort is La Santé an organic spa, offering customised treatments, beauty and stress management programmes and nutritional consultations.




The spa is the first in Asia to offer its clientele the use of European thermal facilities which include a herbal infused sauna chamber, salt grotto infused with Swarovski crystals or mud chamber and a soap brush/aquaveda heated bed with automatic body scrub facilities. The resort boosts 200 elegant rooms and suites with complete luxury of 100 per cent organic bed and bath linens, exclusive VOYA organic bath products which uses seaweed harvested from Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard. La Sante Spa’s philosophy is: “We have a heart for our planet.” Therefore they use nothing less than biodegradable material throughout the resort. Ample fitness opportunities are available at the sports complex, golf course, and adventure park along with bespoke therapies design



The Scarlet, Cornwall, UK >


As you sit simmering away in a burnt red hot tub perched on the cliff top overlooking the breath-taking Cornish coast in the UK you almost become at one with nature. Scarlet’s is an award-winning 37-bedroom hotel spa for adults built to the highest eco standards, boasting delicious locally-sourced food and the best Ayurvedic-inspired spa you can imagine. Spa-goers get the chance to take a dip in Scarlet’s natural pool which uses a living reed bed as a filtration system; micro-organisms and plants balance the chemistry of the water ensuring clean, clear and hygienic conditions for an exhilarating outdoor, fresh water swimming experience. Having a chemical free, fresh water pool planted with flora encourages a high level of biodiversity.




The spa roof is planted with native Sea Thrift, a plant which naturally occurs along North Cornwall's cliff top. All the Scarlet spa journeys start with a consultation with a Tri-Dosha qualified practitioner and include an ayurvedic diagnosis to determine your body type, known in Sanskrit as ‘Dosha.’ There are three types of ‘Dosha’ – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These identify and assess your body’s individual combination of vital energies and it is the balance (and imbalance) of these energies that guides the therapists to create the most appropriate treatment for you.


How spas are becoming green

• The use of organic cotton linens, towels and robes and natural lighting

• Treatment menus in digital format to save paper and providing of eco-friendly literature to guests for reading

• The use of energy efficient light bulbs, floors of sustainable bamboo and low-flow shower heads, sink taps and toilets

• Water conservation efforts and a more managed laundry service. Water conservation efforts with a more managed laundry service and the recycling of all the plastic bottles that treatment products come in.

• Using soaps without phosphates, toilet paper made from recycled products and recycling grey water (dish, shower, sink and laundry water).

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