World's Best Eco-Spas

by Madhu Puri

La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

The spa: Tabacón Grand Thermal Spa Resort

Green peace: It's hard not to think about the environment when you awaken each morning in a rain forest beside mineral springs in the shadow of a volcano. Tabacón uses that ecological trifecta to its advantage: All treatments are performed in outdoor pavilions amid the privacy of dense greenery to a real-life soundtrack of rushing water, twittering birds, and howler monkeys. The spa includes locally grown coffee, sugar, coconut, and chocolate in some treatments, but its main focus is on mud. The near-endless supplies of naturally warm, mineral-rich volcanic goop has long been favored by locals to soothe aches, improve circulation, and soften skin; the spa incorporates it into soothing massages and body wraps. The on-site springs provide additional therapy, relaxing muscles and boosting oxygen flow through the skin. The mineral-rich waterfalls and pools are kept warm naturally—anywhere from 80 to 104 degrees—courtesy of the active Arenal Volcano. That same water ends up in all of the showerheads and taps on site, eliminating the need for artificial heating systems. All outdoor and guest-room lights have low-energy bulbs and operate via sensors, so they click off when not in use. Tabacón hopes that these initiatives—combined with the development of hydroelectric power systems and the planting of trees to offset emissions—will allow it to be carbon-neutral by next year.

Signature treatment: The 75-minute Tabacón massage begins with a series of bends and stretches to regulate energy flow and concludes with a volcanic mud massage ($160).

Tabacón Grand Thermal Spa Resort
Tel: 877 277 8291
Doubles from $260

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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