Eco-resorts go beyond recycling trash or reusing towels to address environmental issues. Refillable shampoo dispensers, for example, prevent those little plastic bottles from clogging landfills. According to industry estimates, energy-saving efforts range from switching to fluorescent light bulbs (saving $51,613 per year at Fairmont's Royal York Hotel in Toronto) to installing thermostats that regulate room temperature when you're at the spa (saving more than $50,000 annually at the Hyatt Maui). And re-use of towels and linens has multiple benefits: Housekeepers at Wyndham hotels shave one room per day from workload, cut water use by 10 percent, and reduce use of chemicals by 15 percent. Natural therapies with indigenous materials are increasingly featured at leading resorts. Here's how balancing body and mind can pay dividends.
Dinosaur Dust at Green Valley Resort
Change the landscape of your mind with dinosaur dust. Natural mineral salts from desert canyons where dinosaurs once roamed enhance baths at Green Valley Resort & Spa in Utah. Hand-blended onsite, Good Medicine skincare ingredients include crystallized minerals, powdered pearls, essential oils, desert botanicals, and milk solids. Said to accelerate physical performance, Fairy Dust Dinosaur Sea Salts in color-coded baths uplift your spirits.
Southwestern Utah is a hiker's paradise. Breathtaking treks include Zion National Park and Snow Canyon followed by a soak in the Pah Tempe hot springs. Surrounded by red rock canyons, high desert and pine forest, historic St. George is a retirement haven. For more information call (800) 237-1068 or visit greenvalleyspa.com.
Seawater & Suds on Newport Beach
Surf City is Newport Beach's claim to fame. But cross the coastal highway to Pacific Waters Spa at the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort and discover the only place in California with seawater baths. Supplied by aquarium services tankers, filtered and heated, mineralized ocean water bubbles in a newly designed Kohler tub. Just as in France, the home of thalassotherapy, seawater baths are said to revitalize you by replenishing essential natural elements and mineral salts.
Set in a garden court, the Andalusian-style Hyatt Pacific Waters Spa has four floors of treatment rooms that face the sea. Families enjoy dual treatment rooms where kids are treated to Chocolate Kiss Hand & Foot Delight and the Mommy & Me facial alongside their parent. Designed for men, the Hops and Barley Double Play draws on the therapeutic power of grains typically found in beer. Soaked in a sudsy mix, your hands and feet are exfoliated with natural grains in a carrier oil infused with the aroma of almonds. Guys say it's a perfect combination, beer and nuts. For more information call (714) 845-4910 or visit huntingtonbeach hyatt.com.
Swedish Zen at Stockholm's Sturebadet
Returning to her Swedish roots, Californian Kirsten Florian introduced healing traditions of the Sami, native northern Swedes, at Stockholm's state-of-the-art day spa, Sturebadet. Creator of European Kur cosmetics and bath products, Florian developed Same Zen, a two-hour experience blending ancient healing with aromatherapy and hydrotherapy to promote total tranquility. Nordic midnight sun music gets you in the mood for a gentle exfoliation followed by herbal bath and stone massage with arctic birch oil, used by Arctic Circle healers for centuries. Instead of Swedish massage, therapists work muscles with rose-colored porphyr stones, embedded with crystals called 'botestenar.' The combined effect releases energy and stimulates circulation, leaving the skin refreshed and vibrant, ready for your midsummer revels.
Sturebadet is the perfect place to sample Swedish lifestyle. Located in a central shopping mall popular with young professionals, it's both a health club and spa, boasting an impressive swimming pool in the central atrium. Built in 1885, Sturebadet means 'old bathhouse', but was modernized with some of the original Nordic Art Nouveau beauty. Balconies filled with workout equipment, exercise studios, and treatment niches are topped by an informal cafe serving spa cuisine. Staying at the nearby Grand Hotel helps with appointments, but visitors enjoy guest privileges by paying the daily fee. For more information call 46-8-545-01523 or visit sturebadet.se.
Maui Lavender Scents Four Seasons Resort
Hawaiian healing plants border the spa at Four Seasons Resort Maui. Dedicated to preserving the essence and beauty of island life, spa treatments incorporate many indigenous plants and herbs. But there's another side to Maui that few visitors discover; just an hour's drive inland, farm communities produce and export lavender, pineapple, and such flowers as protea and orchids. This is the Maui you can smell, taste, and touch, a place so removed from the glitzy coastal resorts that it could be somewhere else.
A swath of bright green agricultural land splayed across the midsection of the great Haleakala volcano, 'upcountry', as locals call it, has cool, misty mornings and a silver-blue light reflected off the ocean. Ideal growing conditions for lavender, says Alii Chang, the green thumb behind Nanea a'o Kula, which means, comfort and serenity of Kula, the town in which this lavender landscape is based. Gardens terrace down the hill behind Chang's home, where visitors are served scones with a lavender-blend tea. Walking in the garden is like wandering through a Monet painting, only tropical. With twenty-seven kinds of lavender, it's an olfactory overdrive.
Seaside massage is a special treat at the Four Seasons. Under a thatched-roof 'hale' hut, therapists apply the rare Hawaiian alae herb used for cleansing, sea salts hand-gathered along island shores, and lavender aromatherapy oil. Lulled by the sound of breakers on the beach below, I succumbed to this enchanted place.