Heaven on Earth
In 1972, while traveling toward the moon, the crew of NASA's Apollo 17 took one of the most famous photographs of Earth from a distance of about 28,000 miles. The photo, named "The Blue Marble" because the astronauts aboard the shuttle likened its appearance to that of a glass marble, was a depiction of Earth's beauty and fragility amid the expanse of space. Named after that photo, the Blue Marble Spa at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina (San Diego) also takes into account the natural beauty of Earth and its need for immediate care. Opened in September 2007, Blue Marble is Hyatt Pure's first eco-friendly spa, which, according to spa director Kyra Johnson, required much more work than building a facility where care for the environment doesn't play a key role. "There are thousands of additional details to consider when building an eco-friendly spa, and starting early was paramount to the success and authenticity of the spa," says Johnson, who came on board seven months prior to the opening. "Environmental practices and products were put in place from the development phase. The entire spa operation is eco-friendly, reducing our negative environmental impact and our carbon footprint while not sacrificing our commitment to luxury and exceptional service standards."
The women's relaxation area includes a wall made of natural river rocks laid by hand.
Staying true to its mission that conservation can go hand in hand with luxury, Blue Marble sources as much as possible from other green companies, uses only recycled paper and environmentally conscious cleaning products, and offers its treatment menu online. The spa also provides eco-friendly literature for reading and further education, uses organic and natural skincare lines, offers organic fruits and food options, and uses minimal hot water. And while all of these practices are good for the environment, they do take a toll on the wallet. "There is no question that purchasing USDA-certified organic massage oils and earth-friendly guest amenities and sourcing recycled products for everything that you implement is a costly endeavor," says Johnson. "Certainly when we first started, there was an immediate and noticeable increase in opening costs. But as more and more green companies emerge and the demand increases, these products and services are becoming more reasonable in price, and the margin is narrowing, making the environmental choice more economical and profitable."
All of the furnishings throughout the spa are inspired by nature.
Situated on the edge of San Diego's Mission Bay, Blue Marble's location is ideal for appreciating the beauty of the natural environment. "We are surrounded by bird estuaries, the amazing Mission Bay Park, and some of the best beaches in the world," says Johnson. "It is a natural location for this concept." Although it is Hyatt Pure's first eco-friendly spa, Johnson says it is definitely not the last. "Hyatt Pure is focused on forward-thinking environmental practices and is committed to making earth-friendly choices in all our spa properties worldwide," she says. "Many of the things we implemented at Blue Marble, such as using USDA-certified organic oils in all massage therapies, have become a new global standard for us."
The reception area features sustainable bamboo floors and a saltwater aquarium.
The desire to be environmentally friendly is evident in everything from the spa's decor, with color schemes inspired by the ocean and Earth, to the products used in treatments and sold in the retail area. When deciding which lines to carry, Johnson chose Farmaesthetics and Naturopathica because they are "leaders in the sustainable beauty movement without compromising their commitment to luxurious skincare," she says. Ayuroma was chosen for its USDA-certified blend of wheat germ, sunflower, and olive massage oils. But when it comes to the role retail plays in the spa's overall revenue, Johnson insists it is not all about making money. "It is less about retail and more about extending wellness and the spa lifestyle into the home and into the everyday lives of our guests," she says. "It is about celebrating life and taking better care of yourself."
In addition to five treatment rooms, including an oversized suite for couples, Blue Marble features a manicure and pedicure lounge, private men's and women's locker rooms featuring LEED-certified rain showers and water-efficient steam rooms, a co-ed relaxation lounge with a saltwater fish tank, five outdoor cabanas, and an outdoor Earth Garden where clients can connect with nature. There are 12 full-time therapists on staff to accommodate guests, and that number is growing, according to Johnson, who says that many employees have sought jobs at the spa because of its environmental commitment. "I think it is safe to say that human beings care about the planet and are ethically charged by the positive or negative environmental actions of their employers."
The couples' suite features hand-held rainwater wands used for a unique water massage ritual treatment that combines warm rain showers and massage.
When designing the treatment menu, the emphasis was on helping clients cultivate their environmental and spiritual awareness. For example, the spa offers four Blue Marble Journeys based on the elements of air, earth, fire, and water. The Earth Journey ($212, 2 ½ hours), which is designed to promote balance, includes a 60-minute Warm Stone Ritual and a Blue Marble Manicure and Pedicure. Providing hydration, the Water Journey ($342, 3 hours) includes a Detoxifying Seaweed Wrap, a Moisture Drench Facial, and an Aromatic Moisture Massage. Clients looking for purification can choose the Air Journey ($367, 4 hours), which includes a Jasmine Flower and Soy Scrub, a 60-minute Organic Aromatherapy Massage, and an Organic Hand and Foot Treatment. Representing the final element, the Fire Journey ($267, 2 hours) promotes stimulation with a 60-minute Deep Tissue Massage, a 60-minute Pure Organic Results Facial, and an Enzyme Peel.
In the comfort of the relaxation room, guests enjoy infused water purified by reverse osmosis and organic snacks.
The biggest challenge Johnson faces, which she says is a positive one, is maintaining profitability without compromising the spa's integrity and commitment to the planet. "With the growing global environmental awareness and the staggering statistics of consumption and waste, it is extremely important to make smarter decisions, make more environmentally friendly choices, incorporate sustainable practices and products, and reduce our negative environmental impact," says Johnson. "But, in essence, it is not about the scary statistics, it is about celebrating the planet and learning to make small changes in the way we live that can result in a big impact on the planet." And on the sandy shores of California where the land meets the sea, Blue Marble Spa is doing just that.
BLUE MARBLE SPA
OWNER: Hyatt Corporation
SPA DIRECTOR: Kyra Johnson
OPENED: September 2007
ages 16 and up
3,500 square feet;
5 treatment rooms and 5 outdoor cabanas
COST OF SPA
Approximately $3 million
- body treatments
- couples' treatments
- energy work
- hair and scalp treatments
- hand and foot treatments
- outdoor treatments
- prenatal services
Age Gracefully Facial ($140, 60 minutes; $180, 90 minutes)
$45 for a Blue Marble Manicure to $367 for the Air Journey
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