How important is an eco-friendly spa break to you?
"Globally, sustainability is rated as an important purchase criterion for 60% of consumers" reported Business Wire at the end of 2021. It continued that "85% of consumers have become ‘greener’ in their purchasing in recent years".
The environment and its wellbeing has been a growing topic of conversation for a number of years. However, with more knowledge and more awareness, and more evidence of climate change, more sustainable business practices are being driven, in large part, by consumer demand.
So, how important is an eco-friendly spa to you, and how are spas working to reduce their carbon footprint and support the natural world?
Does your perspective depend on your generation?
GenZ is largely being heralded as the generation driving sustainable demand; they're proactive, cause led and call industries to account.
"The Global Sustainability Study 2021, conducted by global strategy and pricing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, reveals significant global paradigm shifts in how consumers view sustainability and the associated generational differences in willingness to pay for sustainable products and services."
24% of Baby Boomers and Generation X have significantly changed their behaviour towards being more sustainable.
32% of Millennials have significantly changed their behaviour towards being more sustainable, and 1/3 will choose a sustainable alternative when available.
Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for brands that try to have a positive impact on society (56%) or run their business in a sustainable way (53%) - Research Live.
Does being sustainable mean being more expensive?
This last point is a curious one because there is a belief that sustainable products are services are more expensive. Is that true?
It's not a foregone conclusion that for any business to adopt more environmentally friendly policies and processes it means more expensive business practices. However, for a lot of spa environments it means investing in systemic and even structural changes.
That might be new swimming pools, new heating systems, more composting efforts, and so forth. Often products (like skincare as well a food and drink), are more expensive to source as well because there is time and research that goes into provenance, and raw materials often take longer to produce. For example, sustainably grown crops often take longer to produce and process without corner-cutting chemicals.
Prices of these items are also often higher than more mainstream ones because there is still less demand. So there's some truth in the idea that the more of us who can manage to make sustainable choices, the more cost is likely to be driven down - at least in theory.
That said, depending on what a spa business doing, there are green loans and grants available for environmentally-friendly projects or objectives, when businesses choose to make proactive, sustainable choices. Of course, even with those grants, sustainability projects also take time and human resource to implement as well.
What are spas doing to be more sustainable?
True to form however, the spa industry is working to make changes to meet the values of its customer and to work in harmony with the environment. After all, our wellbeing is intrinsically linked to the wellbeing of the world around is, isn't it?
Thanks to knowledge, industrious and aware spa owners and the ever growing number of resources available, spas are working to be more sustainable. Some are even aiming for (and achieving) net zero.
For the most part, those changes fall into categories that you will no doubt have heard of in other spheres as well, namely waste, water and energy practices.
When it comes to waste, more and more spas are proactive around waste management, reducing plastic consumption wherever possible, recycling and monitoring waste.
Water is obviously a big part of the spa experience, and nearly 80% of spas reporting to the Sustainable Spa Association not only monitor and record water consumption, but have also implemented water saving and reduction strategies.
When it comes to energy, the majority working with the Sustainable Spa Association also have energy-efficient practices and more than half use energy from renewable resources.
Spas leading the way in sustainability
Of course, these figures don't account for all spas across the UK and beyond, but there are those who are leading the way. For example, The Salthouse Hotel in County Antrim has its own windmill to generate electricity, everything is biodegradable and they actually have a negative carbon footprint.
South Lodge in West Sussex is another leader when it comes to environmentally friendly spa breaks. The luxury hotel spa has a wild swimming pool and a sedum roof. Meanwhile, Appleby Manor Country House Hotel in the Lake District has been using a bio-fuel energy system since 2013, reducing CO2 emissions by 100 tons per annum; they have their own water bore hole and they had a composting system installed for 50% of food waste.
Cycling is a wonderful way to exercise, explore new places and get outside. With many spa destinations located in beautiful (and often extensive) grounds, not to mention the countryside beyond, why confine your exercise to the gym when you can use cycle paths and bicycle hire to get out into the fresh air?