Tecate, Mexico (November 10, 2009)—Fifty spa professionals from all segments of the industry gathered for five days last week at historic Rancho La Puerta destination spa—the original destination spa in North America—to define the spa role in the health-care debate and the planet’s sustainability. 

The grand dame of spas in North America, Deborah Szekely, welcomed Green Spa Network (GSN) to the spa that she and her late philosopher husband, Professor Edmond Szekely, founded nearly 70 years ago (www.rancholapuerta.com). Visionary environmental and business authority Paul Hawken opened the congress with a compelling message of hope and challenge (www.paulhawken.com). Presenters also included green lifestyle expert Danny Seo who suggested ways GSN could spread its message through social media (www.dannyseo.com) and Ted Ning, director of LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability, www.lohas.com), who announced a strategic partnership with GSN.

Experts were on hand from the worlds of organic skin care, interior design, sustainability, spa operations, spa suppliers, organic food, education and marketing. Together they worked on action plans for the next 12 months as well as visioning what the industry could look like in the year 2012.

“This event was a true turning point for GSN,” explained Michael Stusser, founding president of the nonprofit organization. “We brought together a group of like-minded professionals and worked very hard to imagine our future and widen the scope of what we need to accomplish for the earth and its peoples. From here forward, we will be part of humanities immune-system response to what is happening on the planet by playing a visible role in the effort to transform mankind’s destructive tendencies affecting the environment and human health.” 

Sarah Livia Brightwood, daughter of Deborah Szekely, reminded everyone of the principles of proactive wellness that the Ranch was founded on and helped showcase inspiring examples of sustainable spa practices. Participants were given an extensive tour of the Ranch’s bio-intensive organic farm that covers nearly six acres and supply nearly 70 percent of the food served at the ranch. RLP’s farm has a highly evolved system of companion planting, crop rotation and optimal stewardship of soil and water.  The devotion and enthusiasm of the organic farm workers and managers underscored the importance of their work.

Participants visited the Ranch’s “Parque Professor” (Professor’s Park) in Tecate—a recreational and educational facility that provides services to 60,000 people annually. The GSN group learned about environmental education programs, festivals and recreational programs which Fundacion La Puerta, the Ranch’s nonprofit arm, provides to Tecate’s families. GSN also visited a community outreach program in a marginalized neighborhood, witnessing the 10-year transformation of an illegal dump site into a thriving community garden providing income to twenty families.  Brightwood explained that Rancho La Puerta has been cycling 10 percent of before tax profits into community projects for decades.

“It was so very appropriate that this powerful event was held at the birthplace of true spa-ing in North America,” Stusser adds. “With Rancho LaPuerta’s mind and body fitness programs fortifying us and its community outreach programs inspiring us, it was like holding our congress at a bona fide University of Wellness!”

Many vital connections were formed over the days as the group hiked together in the early mornings, enjoyed superb organic vegetarian meals and took part in the sessions and classes. Everyone left with a high level of intention and plans to evolve their green spas into vital places of health and wellness that will extend into our communities and support a graceful transition to the post carbon era.

About the Green Spa Network
Green Spa Network (GSN) is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, trade association whose purpose is to evolve sustainable operating practices for the spa industry and to promote the natural connections between personal well-being, economic sustainability and the health of our planet (www.greenspanetwork.org).

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