Top Green Spa: The Spa Ritual in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A quiet hallway at The Spa Ritual

Every guest visit to The Spa Ritual in Calgary, Canada, begins with a slipper ceremony. An attendant asks the client to take a seat and remove her shoes, thereby “leaving the outdoors behind and embarking on a path inward to rejuvenation,” says president and founder Shauna Walker, who borrowed from Southeast Asian traditions in designing the ritual. The client then trades her footwear for sanitized slippers from Thailand, while her shoes are placed in a gift bag that’s green in both hue and origin: Made from non-woven, recyclable plastics, the bag can be reused for shopping. It’s just one of the many eco-savvy touches that help elevate this spa to Top Honors status.

The Spa Ritual, a 7,000-square-foot destination/day spa hybrid, was one of the founding members of the Green Spa Network before the Thai-inspired sanctuary even opened its doors in 2008.

And while its sustainability practices can seem humble when compared with some of its solar panel–bedecked, grey water–using peers, what makes this facility notable is that much of its green-fighting spirit is generated from within its day-to-day working ranks. For example, The Spa Ritual created a dedicated Green Committee early in its inception. Comprised of spa directors and representatives from different service departments, the committee meets monthly to discuss new initiatives for furthering sustainability.

“We’re currently trying to find ways to incentivize staff and guests to use public transit when traveling to the spa,” Walker says. “We’re also trying to encourage volunteering for green events in the community.”

Past committee decisions have resulted in the spa implementing programmable lighting and HVAC systems to reduce energy use; paperless appointment reminders, electronic guest surveys, and e-birthday and thank-you cards; water-efficient showerheads, toilets and tap aerators; recycled paper products including bath and facial tissues and paper towels; eco-friendly washing machines and detergents; and electric fireplaces.

All these efforts have paid off with high-profile distinctions from SpaFinder—including a 2011 Readers’ Choice Award—and the 2010 Industry Award for Sustainability from Leading Spas of Canada. Accolades aside, the spa has also endured its share of uphill climbing in its quest to be green.

“We struggle to find staff that are fully committed to our green philosophy; and when we first opened, there was no citywide recycling program and we had to outsource to find companies to come pick up our recyclables,” Walker says. “Still, I have always been very passionate about spa. It peaked when my husband and I traveled to Thailand. We fell in love with the people and the high level of gracious hospitality. Our goal here is to achieve that same level while also engaging our clients and staff in our ongoing mission toward greater planetary wellness.”—Katie O’Reilly