What does it take to be an Eco Spa?

When it comes to holidays, you might not think a trip to a spa is the most environmentally-friendly choice. Consider all the power needed to heat the sauna and steam room, the water used to fill hot tubs and swimming pools, not to mention the thousands of towels that need to be laundered every year. So can an ‘eco spa’ really exist?

It can, says Warrick Burton, managing director of Titanic Spa in Yorkshire, which opened in 2005 and claims the title of UK’s first eco spa. So what does an eco spa entail? At Titanic Spa, which is housed in an Edwardian textile mill building in Huddersfield, water is the most prominent feature.

“Originally, the mill hand an aquifer, which was 100 metres below the mill. We re-drilled that, so we’ve got a natural water supply,” Burton explains.

“Rather than putting chemicals into it, we use a filtration system and the entire mill runs off that water supply, whether you’re showering, drinking or even in the pool itself.

“If you’ve just spent £100 on a nice facial, you wouldn’t really want to go and bleach yourself in a swimming pool.”

Solar panels on the roof generate renewable electricity to power the ‘Heat and Ice Experience’, which includes herbal and crystal steam rooms, foot spas, a saunarium, an ice room and a bracing plunge pool.

The spa has its own on-site laundry, which uses ozonated water to disinfect towels and robes, even while washing at a cool temperature. There are energy efficient appliances fitted throughout and the restaurant serves locally-sourced, seasonal food.

There is now a variety of eco spas across the UK – from Cornwall’s The Scarlet, which has a chemical-free outdoor pool cleaned by reeds, to Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa in Dundee, which was named Scotland‘s first green spa.

Their popularity is part of the growing ‘green tourism’ trend, as holidaymakers become more conscious of how their travel choices affect the planet and contribute to climate change.

It makes sense. If you decide, for example, to opt for a staycation to reduce your carbon footprint from air travel, why would you then want to stay at a hotel that is hugely energy intensive?

So do guests choose Titanic Spa purely because it’s leading the way in sustainability?

“There are a few people who do,” Burton says. “They’ll come in their electric cars and use our charging points, they’ll do the whole thing based on that. The majority of people I think just like to know that they’re not doing any harm while they visit us, and everything is sustainable as much as possible.”

The company has a focus group that discusses how to introduce new technologies in the ever-evolving space and now regularly helps other businesses to boost their eco credentials, too.

“Quite frequently people will phone up or call in for a visit, and while we don’t tend to like to give secrets away from our actual spa, we’re quite happy to give away advice [on sustainability]. The more people that do something about it, the better.”

He admits that Titanic Spa is in the fortunate position of being independently run, whereas it’s harder for big corporations to implement sustainable features on a larger scale.

But consumers can help to encourage businesses by voting with their wallets.

While so many of us are taking steps at home, such as reducing the amount of single-use plastic used or opting for a renewable energy provider, shouldn’t we be considering our holiday habits, too? With so many spas on offer, why not choose an eco-friendly option?

How to get there

Spa Days start from £79 per person; Spa Breaks start from £129 per person. Visit titanicspa.com.

Katie Wright

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