Boulder, CO, has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the green movement. The community has taken strides to prevent pollution, thwart disruption to the natural landscape, and inhibit negative impacts on the local environment since the 1950s. Today, smoking is banned in restaurants and taverns; building in the adjacent Flatiron foothills is strictly curtailed; the development and maintenance of public parks is actively funded; recycling is free and heavily promoted; programs that encourage carpooling and the reduction of drivers on the road are thriving; and a special city commission works to help homeowners select products and designs for building green. Boulder-area resorts and hotels espouse an eco-friendly philosophy, as well. And nowhere is the green movement more in bloom than at the St Julien Hotel & Spa, home to the 10,000-square-foot, 12-treatment-room Spa at St Julien.
The hotel, which opened its doors in 2005 and is the first to open in downtown Boulder since 1909, employs a number of eco-friendly practices including the use of long-lasting and efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs, double-paned glass on guest room windows to reduce energy loss, an extensive recycling program, buffet options for breakfast and lunch to reduce food waste, low-flow toilets and shower heads, non-toxic cleaning products, and more. Additionally, the hotel, which is hosting the Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) Forum in June, doesn't use leather furnishings, supports humane methods of pest control including the use of balloons to scare pigeons off the roof, and works with an eco-consultant to improve and grow the environmental practices of the hotel. Plus, a Green Team meets weekly to brainstorm, plan, manage, and implement environmentally based programs. In October, the owners of the luxurious 201-room retreat declared that the property aims to be a Zero-Waste Hotel by 2010, which means the hotel will drastically reduce its consumption of resources and change its practices so that waste that is produced can be used as raw materials for somewhere else. "The St Julien Hotel & Spa believes that implementing a zero-waste policy will make us stand out as a progressive hotel organization within our community and at the forefront of the environmental movement," St Julien Partners said in a statement. "We hope to inspire our employees as well as the Boulder community to follow our example."
In keeping with its naturally inspired aesthetic, the entrance to the spa features a vaulted skylight that fills the space with soul-soothing sunlight.
In keeping with the spirit of the hotel, the spa also has an earth-friendly, organic, and locally inspired bent. Only products that are not tested on animals, including Éminence Organic Skin Care, Deserving Thyme, and Luzern, are used in the treatment rooms and retailed. Colorado-based Inara Organic Body Care and Wild Sage Botanicals are used, as well. "We always try to support local organic companies whenever we can," says spa director Candis Ayers.
The spa also employs several eco-friendly practices. Corn cups and plates are used to serve fruits and beverages pre-and post-treatment; hand towels are used in lieu of disposable towels in the locker rooms; and Ayers is in the midst of researching ways to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of bottled water in the spa. Also, all of the paper in the spa, including the spa menu, is recycled and accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Clockwise from above: Walnut wood floors, marble accents, and botanical-themed artwork create a welcoming, earth-focused vibe in the reception area; in warm-weather months, outdoor treatments are a popular option; several locally inspired sessions are performed in the spa's 12 treatment rooms.
Beyond the environmentally sound practices, the spa's design evokes the natural beauty of Colorado's great outdoors, the ultimate in green inspiration. "There is a natural elegance achieved throughout the hotel and especially the spa," says Ayers. "The spa was kept simple and natural with the marble floors and counters and walnut wood floors. The showers and steam room are all made from river rock and invite the feeling of the Rocky Mountains."
In fact, most of the offerings on the menu pay homage to the nearby Rocky Mountains and the natural bounty found therein. Stone crop, a plant that grows in the region and has been used for centuries to heal irritation, reduce pigmentation, and clarify skin, is used in several facials and body treatments, including the St. Julien Hydrating Wrap ($140, 75 minutes) and the Éminence Organic Facial ($105, 50 minutes), which incorporates Éminence Organic Skin Care's Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer. Plus, the signature amenities in the guest rooms and the spa locker rooms have a spearmint base, a fragrant herb that is also indigenous to Colorado. Another locally inspired option—and a favorite of Ayers—is the Rock ON! Massage ($150, 80 minutes), a hot stone massage that uses stones that are personally selected from a local quarry by the spa's lead massage therapist. And for a true Rocky Mountain high, outdoor treatments during warmer months, where guests can breathe in the scents of fragrant plants and herbs while enjoying incomparable views of the Flatiron Mountains, are also available.
An indoor infinity swimming pool located adjacent to the spa is ideal for pre-and post-treatment relaxation.
Other popular treatment options that incorporate natural ingredients include the spa's seasonal offerings. Boulder is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts year-round, so these sessions help soothe spa-goers' specific skin and body ails depending on the season. Winter-weary skin, for example, gets a hydrating boost with the Love, Olive Me! ($245, 2 hours), which takes advantage of the moisturizing properties of olive oil via a scrub, wrap, and massage specifically designed to soothe dehydrated, wind-chapped skin. The package, which was introduced in January and was intended to run through March, was so popular with guests that Ayers made it a permanent addition to the menu. Meanwhile, cranberry-and pomegranate-based treatments are enjoyed in the fall, and the signature springtime session, Divini-"TEA" ($175, 80 minutes), which debuts this month, helps clients achieve head-to-toe refreshment with ingredients that are infused with invigorating green tea. Though many clients do sample the seasonal offerings, massage remains the mainstay of the spa, consistently making up approximately 50 percent of revenue each month, according to Ayers. To cater to this demand, seven of the spa's 12 treatment rooms are dedicated to massage, and 19 massage therapists are on staff, with several on call for backup.
Like many mountain towns, Boulder has a seasonal appeal that is reflected in demand for the spa. According to Ayers, summer is the busiest season, with the month of December a close second. During those times, the spa is often at its 120-client daily capacity and employing the skills of the 50 staff members, 70 percent of whom are full-time. The spa tends to slow down at the beginning of the year and in October, during which time Ayers runs promotions to encourage hotel guests to partake in treatments. But no matter what time of year it is, the spa appeals to both hotel guests and locals almost equally, with a breakdown of about 60 and 40 percent, respectively. Hotel guests learn about the spa through in-room brochures and encouragement from a pre-arrival concierge service. Local guests are invited to purchase a spa club card, which offers discounted rates early in the week and includes a 50-percent discount for birthdays and validated parking. Additionally, Ayers markets the spa to Boulder-area residents through regional publications. "We also have lots of friends, mothers and daughters, and couples who visit us from nearby areas such as Denver and surrounding cities," says Ayers. "It feels like a getaway without having to travel very far."
Still, as the only resort spa in Boulder, the Spa at St Julien manages to attract guests from near and far, due to what Ayers says is the spa's incomparable "atmosphere of tranquility." For the future, Ayers says she and her team will work hard to maintain that atmosphere, focusing on consistency in 2008.
One thing that will remain a constant at the spa, and the St Julien overall, will be its status as a leader in environmental stewardship. "Being based at the foothills of the Rockies in an environmentally sensitive town like Boulder, sustainability and the environment have always been key ingredients in our values," says general manager Peter Walstra. "I'm excited by the possibilities here and think Boulder is going to see some really innovative ideas and programs from the St Julien in the next few years."